Decoding colour – a catalyst for connection and business growth

Decoding colour – a catalyst for connection and business growth

Colour is one of the most important marketing tools. Did you know that humans connect with colour first and words second? That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to understand the huge impact colour has on connecting with our target audience – the words and the emotive message are secondary (yet equally important to convey the desired message).  In essence, colour has the ability to influence how we, as humans, emotionally connect with a brand or a product in an authentic, meaningful and positive way. Think strategically – never overlook the part colour plays as a key marketing tool. 

Since my teens I’ve always been curious about colour and how we use it in our lives. From a marketing perspective, whether we’ve chosen to acknowledge it or not, when we look at a marketing campaign, for a restaurant or item of clothing, the first thing that impacts us is colour. Of course, storytelling and the words chosen to accompany the colour and design style are important too as they reinforce the message a campaign aims to convey and enable customer to better emotionally connect, but are brands truly aware of the subconscious messages they communicate through the use of colour?

A powerful marketing tool – not to be overlooked

From a marketing perspective, colour is the most overlooked marketing tool. In this day and age we’re quite rightly focused on delivering digital experiences and crafting content that sparks action, but the first thing that a consumer will notice and subconsciously react to when looking at an advertising or marketing campaign are the colours employed – and our intuitive reactions are inherent – sometimes we just know something is ‘off’ but we can’t quite put our finger on it. Subconsciously we’ve instantly had a positive or negative reaction – that will either draw us in and make us curious to know more, or repel us and physically encourage us to move on – which of course results in a missed opportunity for a brand to build trusted, authentic relationships with their target audience and from a commercial perspective, lost sales.

Let’s look at a brand that in my opinion, has really nailed it. Famous for its ‘swoosh’ logo and ‘Just Do It’ slogan, active lifestyle brand Nike is one of the most well-known and probably most well-respected brands in the world. Known originally for making athletic footwear, they enable their customers to customise key products so they’re able to create a pair of trainers using your favourite combinations of colours – to look at an example check out ‘Nike by you’. This is a marketing person and brand strategist that understands the power of colour to influence a purchase and to deliver a personalised, memorable experience that has the ‘talkability’ factor amongst friends and family. When it comes to marketing, personal referrals are the holy grail – a conversation created in this authentic way is most likely to bring new customers. 

Make an impact – use colour strategically

Entrepreneurs and founders who really understand the benefits of building a brand, and understand what their brand stands for, are most likely to buy into the fact that when they are clear on who they are as person – their business benefits. In addition, brands need to show up authentically, just as humans do, otherwise people see through them and move on (like a magpie) to the next shiny object that’s caught their eye.

To apply this thinking on a personal level, applied colour and design psychology expert Karen Haller asks this question – “Why is it that you’re drawn to wear blue one day and green the next?” How do you feel when you wear red, or black – do you feel powerful and strong – or have you chosen to wear those colours because that’s how you want others to perceive you on a given day? 

To resonate with our target audience, think strategically about how you build your brand playbook and guidelines right from the start. Everything you communicate stems from this critical but often overlooked piece of work. Your brand and all elements (visual, written, colour palette and more) must interplay and work cohesively together to establish and build your brand value over time. If a brand gets this wrong it can have a negative on their bottom-line and has the potential to push customers intio the arms of the competition.

On the subject of competitors – don’t copy what they’re doing. Understand who you are, what you want to stand for, who your customers are and don’t chase what someone else has got – remember to always be authentic to you.  Know your customers and be of service to them. 

Connect with colour

Never underestimate the power of colour to influence and be a catalyst for growth, it’s an incredible marketing tool so use it wisely. Fancy a chat? Then get in touch to talk more about consciously creating and connecting with colour. 

Featured image by Robert Katzki

Brand Power – what values are driving your company culture?

Brand Power – what values are driving your company culture?

There are many global businesses who’s brand has become a household name – for example technology giants like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon – to retailers such as Marks and Spencer, a quintessentially British brand that’s been around since 1884, who’s brand positioning is to ‘bring quality, great value food, clothing and homeware to millions of customers around the world’, and a John Lewis, another retailer that’s stood the test of time, who’s initial brand values were ‘Value, Assortment, Service and Honesty’, and that have now evolved to ‘Value, Integrity and Vision’.  Throughout the years their moto remains ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’.

On the technology front, under a guiding philosophy called the ‘Hacker Way’, Facebook are reported to have five core values, namely – Focus on impact, move fast, be bold, be open and build social value. In the early years, from an external point of view, one may say that they were living by these values, however in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and major data breach, one might argue that being bold went a bit too far, and that wasn’t quite the impact they were intending to make. 

Living your brand values

I read a really interesting article recently about an Australian software company called Atlassian, that helps teams work smarter and faster, together. Founded in Syndey, with 3000 employees, the company has opted to overhaul how they conduct their performance reviews, to shine a light on their ‘values’. This means that two-thirds of a performance review will focus on how their employees impact the wider team, how they live the company values, and will openly encourage staff to bring ‘their whole self to work’; the remaining one-third will be cover job skills for the specific role fulfilled.

If a business wants to attract and retain the right talent, then their company values need to shine through every division in their business to help build the desired company culture. For companies I’ve worked with, I’ve ensured the marketing team has worked collaboratively with HR so brand values are front and centre in the recruitment process; on-boarding process for new joiners; and the review process for employees. Moreover, from a commercial new business standpoint, these brand values will influence who a company chooses to work with, partner with, and build a long-term relationship with. Like any relationship, if values aren’t acknowledged and appreciated from the outset, the relationship can be very short-lived.

It’s important for employees to live a company’s values and for them to be exemplified in everyday behaviour when engaging with their team and co-workers, through to how they engage, collaborate and communicate with third parties – for example, partners, PR and digital agencies, creatives, sponsors and more. Your values are a core part of your brands ‘heart beat’ and ‘personality’, which is the thing that makes people love (or hate) a brand. 

Company culture and competitor advantage

Your people, practices and behaviours will drive a business forwards, but at its core, it’s your company culture that creates competitive advantage.  In the past 50 years, how companies operate and how people work has changed dramatically. The current nature of our working environment and the fact it’s evolved significantly in the past few decades, with the growing Gig economy, flexibility in the workplace, the rise of the four day week, and employees working remotely from home or other locations, makes it’s more important than ever that businesses live their brand values, to build a cohesive, collaborative, communicative team.  

Branding and mentorship from the best in the business 

In my early thirties I was lucky to have a mentor – the head of brand at O2. It was a fantastic experience to receive insight and guidance from Susie Moore, and to know we shared the same passion for how to build a brand, how to bring them into each marketing touchpoint, and the importance of working collaboratively with HR.

Our company values are not just word’s we mount on a wall in the reception area, in the vain hope they’ll penetrate employees, partners, prospects and clients as they pass – our values are words that have meaning.  

If you are an employee – Do you know what your companies brand values are? How are you encouraged to live and breathe them? Are they part of your review process? How are you rewarded for behaviour that underpins your employers brand values?

If you are a business owner – How are you living your brand values? Have your values been created with a sense of ownership from your employees? Are they present in your thinking on a daily basis? Are you creating a values-bases company culture? Have you evaluated what values most align with your higher purpose and business?

Never underestimate the power of your brand, it is the most important part of your marketing weaponry – love your brand and nurture it.