Are you colour savvy?

June 12, 2018
June 12, 2018 Simon Ellis

Do you know why your brand uses the colour or colours it does? (We’re assuming that all your branding uses a consistent colour palette, as defined in your brand guidelines. If not, give us a call. Quick!)

The opening of the Pantone Café in Monaco for a second consecutive summer puts the relationship between colour and taste at the top of our agenda this month. Pantone is the design world’s gold standard when it comes to colour consistency – when you specify a Pantone colour you know exactly what you’re going to get, no matter where you are or what the application.

As Pantone Colour Institute vice president Laurie Pressman puts it, “Each colour has its own different taste, smell, texture, and personality, all of which come together to inspire the soul and whet the appetite.”

This is true. Certain foods are inextricably linked with their own distinctive colour. We all know that yellow suggests lemon, green suggests lime and orange, er, orange. It also explains why for so many years there were no blue smarties. Blue is the colour of poison (hence the cyan in cyanide).

Heston Blumenthal has toyed with this theory by serving up foods infused with an inappropriate colour. Charles Spence, the Oxford psychologist who worked with Blumenthal in developing some of his sense-deceiving dishes, points out that much more of the brain is given over to visual perception than to taste, so it follows that we are influenced in our attraction to food far more by what it looks like than what it actually tastes like.

One experiment saw people happily eating steak in the dark, but when the lights came on and they saw the steak was coloured blue, they stopped eating and some were sick on the spot.Pantone Cafe

Beyond food, the way we interpret colours can lead to mixed messages? Red, for example, is the colour of danger (bad) and bloodshed (bad) but also the colour of fast cars (good), heat (good) and passion (even better). Grey is bland but also distinguished and cool. Blue is sad if it’s the colour of your mood, happy if it’s the colour of the sky.

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to colour theory but there is personal taste and we shouldn’t underestimate the part that personal taste plays in our customers’ decision to buy. The subconscious influence of colour could be a deal breaker. So until you’re the only company in the world that does what you do, it’s surely worth spending some time considering what your brand colours are saying about you.

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