Chances are, one of the first things that you’ll be wanting to do when setting up a new business is creating a logo which forms part of your new brand image. Graphic designers will spend a lot of time working with new clients trying to understand their target market so they can better align your brand with that market. Having a very clear idea of your target market will save you money and time and your graphic designer will be much more likely to design exactly what you want and need, so you better connect with your ideal customer.
One of the key components of any brand is colour. This forms the foundation of any design, but did you know that different colours elicit different feelings and convey different messages? Psychologists have long known about the influence colour has on people’s perception of brands and have used this to help marketers better engage with their target market.
I remember when studying my undergraduate degree in psychology, being astounded at how much thought had gone into a brand’s development of their image from the colour of their logo, their advertising, store design through to packaging and staff uniforms. The best brands have a consistent and thorough execution of their brand at every level of their business.
You only have to walk down a supermarket aisle to see they myriad of different products there to tempt us. I’m sure you’ve noticed that some items jump out at you more than others. Chances are, the marketing team knows that you are their target market and designed their product to connect with you visually and emotionally.
Canva, a website that allows you to create your own marketing collateral, has a great description of what colours mean in branding. Below you can see the descriptions they ascribe to various colours.
- Red – For Danger, Passion, Excitement & Energy
- Orange – Fresh, Youthful, Creative & Adventurous
- Yellow – Optimistic, Cheerful, Playful & Happy
- Green – Natural, Vitality, Prestige & Wealth
- Blue – Communicative, Trustworthy, Calming & Depressed
- Purple – Royalty, Majesty, Spiritual & Mysterious
- Brown – Organic, Wholesome, Simple & Honest
- Pink – Feminine, Sentimental, Romantic & Exciting
- Black – Sophisticated, Formal, Luxurious & Sorrowful
- White – Purity, Simplicity, Innocence & Minimalism
- Multicolor – Variety
Using colours that resonate with the psychographics of your target market will help you to create a brand that cuts through the noise of the competition and engage directly with your target market. If you’re a small business, your marketing will most likely be call to action based, so you’ll need to connect with your customer as quickly and effectively as possible, which is why understanding colour is important.
Think about websites that you visit. Which ones resonate with you? If you’re prone to Online shopping it’s highly likely that the web designers have thought about trying to connect specifically with you through use of colour (as well as imagery, graphics and usability). They’re using exactly the same tricks traditional marketers have been using for many many years in bricks and mortar businesses.
I remember going to New York many many years ago and walking down Fifth Avenue and seeing for the very first time an Abercrombie and Fitch store. I was staggered by the fact that the place had no windows dressed with products – in fact, there were no windows at all, you couldn’t see inside. Instead, very attractive young kids wearing the product (gym toned boys were shirtless and the model-like girls) were standing outside engaging the crowds. There was a massive queue outside of equally attractive young people wanting to go inside, they knew their target market.
Being fascinated by the way brands develop, I couldn’t help myself but go in and explore the store. Inside loud dance music was pumping out and the place had a distinct nightclub feel. The contemporary fashion was absolutely on the mark and the cash registers were working overtime taking the money off happy consumers. Of course, I wasn’t their target market but I was absolutely fascinated by the fact at their ability to connect with their ideal target market and were clearly making a lot of money doing so. The store was predominantly brown, black and white – looking at Canva’s list of colour, you can see that A & F were saying “we’re wholesome, simple, honest and sophisticated”. They nailed it!
Another classic example of colour and brand alignment is McDonald’s. I don’t think there are many other organisations out there that know their customers better than McDonald’s do. They’ve been doing this for many many years, of course, McDonald’s have designed their brand to be fast, friendly and youthful, which is everything you want in a fast food restaurant – get them in, feed them cheaply and get them out so more happy customers can eat there.
These are both retail examples but doesn’t matter whether you’re a retail or bricks and mortar or online your brand image will determine whether or not you connect with your ideal target market. Think of banks and financial institutions. Most of them have very conservative brands blue, black and green because they want to demonstrate a feeling of security, trustworthiness and sophistication.
I was recently at a networking event at took the card of a Financial Planner who had just started her new business after leaving a bank because it was ‘too restrictive’. He card was bright Yellow and Red and extremely busy – so much information I could hardly read it. Her personal brand image was also extremely colourful and she was wearing (fashionably) ripped jeans, a white t-shirt and a yellow blazer.
I couldn’t help thinking to myself that her brand image was misaligned with what she was doing. Then I thought perhaps she was looking to connect with younger fashion conscious women, in which case she may well have been on the mark. When I asked her who she was looking to do work with, I was surprised to hear her say she wanted to work with ‘everyone’ (my first alarm bell) but was wanting to do business with people ten years out from retirement so she could help them with strategies and because they had the most money. Now I’m sure she would be very good at what she does but can guarantee if that is her target market, she will find it almost impossible to generate work.
Think about who you want to connect with and see whether your brand conveys the right kind of image. Humans make decisions very quickly, picking up on visual cues like colour, so it’s vital you select colours that resonate with your target market.