Color has as much of an impact on our purchasing power as almost anything else. But where does color psychology come into play when brands go against the grain?
For example, green packaging is for cheese and onion crisps (or chips for our American cousins). Simple, right? Not so fast. Walkers, the UK’s leading crisp manufacturer, uses blue for its cheese & onion, but did it do Walkers any harm? Far from causing confusion, the difference in colour has seen Walkers chart an inexorable march to the top of the UK crisp market.”
Burger King, McDonald’s and KFC all prominently feature red on their signs. Red has been shown to stimulate the appetite, so it should give them a competitive edge over those food outlets that don’t adopt the colour in their branding. And, indeed, the majority of fast-food restaurants feature red prominently in their colour schemes. What do we expect the primary colours of the number one fast food chain in the U.S. to be? Certainly not pink and purple as is the case for Taco Bell.
So, is it better to stand out from the crowd or go with similar branding so that it leads to a universal standard? Perhaps turning left when all others turn right is the way to go. When Apple launched its iMac G3, instead of using beige or grey as was de rigueur for its contemporaries, Apple decided to offer a variety of bright colours. From that moment, Apple began the rise from also-ran to market leader.
Our brains register colour, shape and then text when it comes to a seeing a brand. And of course brands (at least the big ones) conduct extensive research when it comes to choosing colours for their products, depending on the target audience. Want to make something exclusive? Black is likely to be the predominant colour (think American Express’s most exclusive card).
While colour is far from the primary reason why any of these brands has reached the top, it is an example of the kind of mould-breaking thinking that takes them there. In the end, the true color of success can very well be a mark of familiarity or individuality.
Richard Musgrave is a financial assistant at gyro London.