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

On Purpose – Consciously Creating with Colour

On Purpose – Consciously Creating with Colour

For as long as I can remember I’ve been drawn to colour, perhaps as a means to express my individuality and personality, perhaps it also reflects how I’m feeling as I do believe colour has an energy, a flow, and the power to change how we’re feeling: Just as listening to music has the ability to influence our state of mind, because of the rhythm, beat and lyrics, colour has the ability to change our mood and influence how we feel in an environment – both natural and man-made.

Texture also has the ability to alter our state of mind – from rugged, rough, and spikey to smooth and soft – when our fingertips and flesh come into contact with different textures it will react in a mixture of ways. For example, from a pleasurable sensation if the texture is soft and sensual, which would make me want to lean in and get cosy – to painful if the texture is hard and angular, which would make me want to lean out and move away. It really all depends on what you’re aiming to create. 

We all have the ability to consciously create with colour – to make us feel confident, comfortable and charismatic when the need arises, and marvellously mellow when we’re at the end of a long week and we’re looking to relax, re-cooperate and refresh our senses. 

Colour yourself – brand me 

The way we dress and present ourselves also has in instant visual impact on the people we meet – this doesn’t mean that their interpretation is right or wrong, it just means a bigger picture of who they think we are (or may be) has been instantly formed in their minds, quite literally in a matter of milliseconds. One stereotype being the freshly pressed suit and tie wearer representing a serious corporate city type; another being the Diesel jean, fitted shirt and brogue wearer being a London Westend Agency type. Whatever you choose to wear, you’re reflecting ‘brand me’. 

As for my choice of attire, be it smart or casual, for some reason I just don’t feel like me when I wear black. I have a couple of select items that are black, for example a leather jacket, a knitted roll neck, and several pairs of lycra cycling shorts (it’s the most flattering colour when you have curves). However, I’m more drawn to colours that are warm, are evocative of an emotion, stir memories of times gone by, or locations and environments visited – usually the colours I choose reflect how I feel or how I want to feel on any given day. 

Moreover, I like individuality and items that have a history, like silk scarves from second hand shops – their distinctive colours are rarely seen in more modern, mass-produced clothing lines. My niece Issy thinks I have a somewhat eclectic taste – her saying being “That’s very you Em” – I take her comment as a compliment that I choose and select items that are unique, both to wear and to have in my home. 

I also enjoy wearing colours that are opposites on the colour wheel – such as orange and blue, and pink and green – they fuel me with good energy, yet other opposite pairings like yellow and purple don’t feel good on me at all, so I avoid them. Our skin tone has an influence on the colours we choose to wear – yellow makes me looked washed out and I associate purple with Cadbury (I don’t wish to walk around looking like a chocolate bar). What colours are you drawn to? How do they make you feel?

Colour your environment – home and office

As an adult, the two places we spend the majority of our time is either at home with our families and friends, therefore an environment where we want to create comfort, stability, nurturing, and warmth – and our office space – where hopefully our employers wish to create something similar, only with a commercial, collaborative brand lead influence. 

For me my home is my sanctuary and it’s very much a reflection of myself. I have objects that are IOU (Interesting, Old and Unusual) that I’ve lovingly sourced from my travels, brocantes and car boots sales (I love finding a hidden gem). Each room has a different purpose – my lounge is painted a dark grey neutral green called Treron, houses a pair of mid-century modern 1950s Italian chairs, and has a hint of pink and silver in the soft furnishing and accessories; my bedroom is painted an exotic and adventurous pink called Rangwali and houses a gorgeous 1930s haberdashery unit purchased from the Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair held in Battersea twice yearly; and my kitchen / dining room is painted a calm and serene protective olive green called Bancha, which connects the inside with the outside (an extension of my garden), and also lets the orange accessories stand out and sing. Yes, in my kitchen I have an orange fridge, a beautifully ornate orange glass vase from a brocante in France, chunky orange candles on the fireplace, an orange and green glass light fitting on a lamp featuring a semi-naked reclining lady found in a car boot sale about 15 years ago, and the curtains that dress the French doors into the garden have a bold orange, pink and silver leaf print – combined together, the choice of colours and objects in my home radiate my unique taste and personality.

In addition, each room has two walls painted a colour, and two walls painted white – I do this because I want the colour to be reflected by the natural light on the white walls, and because I want each room to give me, and those that visit, a welcoming hug.  

With regards to our work life, the office environment and space we spend up to 40+ hours a week at is vitally important to supporting a thriving company culture and mindset. I recently talked about the importance of brand power, and the values that are driving your company and your competitor advantage. Your brand extends to all areas where there’s human and virtual interaction with employees, partners, agencies, sponsors, investors, and each touchpoint is an opportunity to deliver a memorable, engaging brand experience. How do you reflect your brand in your environment?

Colour your business – brand DNA 

Some business ideas evolve over time, some out of passion, some out of necessity, some from a light bulb moment experienced in the shower, some from a need to use a product that’s not yet been created, therefore the desire to create this product or service becomes your focus, and as such, a new market with a new audience is created. Who knew we all needed a smartphone – yet where would we, and many businesses be, without it now?? We use it communicate with friends and family, collaborate with colleagues, connect with industry leaders and influencers on social networks, purchase products on the move using the plethora of apps that are readily available at our fingertips – the list is endless. 

Speaking of smartphones, there’s still a battle between Apple and Android for market share – I’m not sure who’s winning that currently. But the brand that stands out as a brand that’s recognised globally is Apple, I view it as head and shoulders above Android on various levels. For me, the Apple brand represents sleek and beautiful design, forward thinking technology, secure products, excellent customer service, seamless simplicity, and an iconic, inspirational, detail orientated, fastidious founder in Steve Jobs. When thinking of my own or someone else’s transformational change, I regularly reflect on one of his many quotes…

“Follow your heart and intuition. Somehow they already know what you truly want to become.”

Steve Jobs

At any stage of your journey, you have the opportunity to set new goals, launch new services and target new markets to build revenue, become a unicorn even – all of these businesses have a few things in common – a core brand DNA and huge brand value – they incorporate their brand experience into every marketing and communications touchpoint, both on and off line. 

The business of applied colour psychology – let’s explore

The business of applied colour psychology – let’s explore

All my life I’ve been consciously creating with colour – as a student and artist studying textile design 25+ years ago, and latterly as a marketing and brand strategist. The colours we choose to wear, to dress our environment such as our home and office space, and those we choose to brand our business with, have a huge impact on human behaviour, and how we are perceived by others. It’s a subject I’m really passionate about. 

So last September I was hugely flattered and honoured to be invited by Debbie Pinder, the Programme Leader and Senior Teaching Fellow for the MA Luxury Brand Management course at Winchester School of Art, to be a guest speaker, to present to her international students. Debbie had read an article I had published in Hotel Designs Magazine titled ‘The psychology between colour in interior design and wellbeing’, so the remit for my talk was to expand on the piece, share my industry experience and real case studies on brand development, and guide the students on the key stages to develop a brand strategy.  

Arriving on the campus was pretty daunting but also exciting. Having not stepped inside a university building for many years, I found the smell of turps and paint oozing from the print rooms strangely comforting, and the sight of all the sculptures and pieces of clothing being made utterly beautiful. It definitely stirred many wonderful memories of being a student and appealed to my creative spirit. 

Luxury hotel design

When drafting an article titled ‘The psychology between colour in interior design and wellbeing’ for Hotel Designs magazine, I was asked by the editor Hamish Kilburn to checkout and review three luxury hotels from around the world, namely Plaza 18 in Andalucia, Spain; the Riveria Hotel and Spa in Mykonos, Greece and Nhow in London, UK. For now, I’m going to further explore the luxury elements of Plaza 18.

In many ways, luxury is in the eye of the beholder but for me there are some key ingredients that make something stand out as ‘luxury’. When I think about hotels, it’s a combination of the richness, depth and tone of the colours chosen, and the textures of the fabrics applied to the soft furnishings, to the reception and welcome experience, the dining lounge and bar, to the hotel rooms and suites. It’s also about the art, sculptures and artefacts that have been added to spaces to embellish the atmosphere and create a sense of mystery and intrigue. 

When I look at the design and colour applied to Plaza 18, this hotel showcases discreet, understated luxury with a hint of history and heritage. The choice of monochrome design and classic style, demonstrated in the chequered black and white floor tiles is bold and classic, and creates wonderful geometric lines. There’s also a splash of vibrant red that pops out in the artwork featured on the wall, in contrast to the soft green foliage that brings a hint of nature, softness and balance to the space. 

Black as a colour portrays glamour, elegance and sophistication and for many gives a sense of allure and mystery. In this room it adds gravitas and presence. However, if used excessively it will create an experience of heaviness and oppression. 

White as a colour suggests clean and quiet, and helps us keep our emotions in check. In other environments white can feel stark and cold, therefore it’s important to use colour with context and purpose. Here the white creates contrast next to the black, and the ­sharp lines draw a guest into the space.  

It’s worth remembering that all colours have psychological duality in how they can change and influence our behaviour, both positively ­and negatively (with the exception of grey – it has no positive traits). Also, we never see colour in isolation so it’s always a combination of colours that evokes an experience, feeling or behaviour.

Developing a brand – Workshop framework 

Whilst the students at Winchester University learn the theoretical knowledge and practical skills required to succeed in the management of complex luxury brands, they were keen to hear about some case studies of how a brand is created and developed outside the luxury space, and to identify where there are synergies. So, it was fantastic to share my experience of 20+ years of building brands in the agency and technology space, and to give them guidance on a workshop framework to kick-start conversations when building a brand from the bottom up. 

The business of applied colour psychology 

To expand my knowledge and to better understand the behavioural science of colour and its impact on us as human beings, I’m studying a course aimed at professionals in applied colour psychology. It’s funny going from guest speaker to student, but I’m a firm believer in paying it forward, giving back when I’m able, and in continuing to grow ­– personally and professionally – to better serve myself and those around me. 

In this course I’ve been recapping on colour terminology, debunking colour myths that exist in the colour industry, understanding more about the psychological properties of the 11 main colours and much, much more. As the months progress I’ll be learning about colour physics with colour psychology and how, when brought together, they can evoke predictable psychological responses, to how to apply specific colour combinations to create positive behavioural effects in any given situation and space – from building a brand, to creating a home, an office, and every other environment or building space you can think of. 

It’s time to get creative and consciously create with colour 

So, this is where you come in… If you’re curious about colour and how you can better apply it in your life, your home and your business, I’d love to hear from you. I’m keen to put what I’m learning into practice so I’m inviting friends and family to experience a little of this journey with me – we will grow together. 

Initially this will take the form of us meeting (most likely virtually for 30 minutes) and us exploring your thoughts around colour. Over the duration of the course, the end result for me will be me embedding my learning and knowledge, and hopefully you will have a better understanding of your relationship with colour and how to apply it in various areas of your life. 

Transformative, immersive, revolutionary – what’s your experience with colour?

Transformative, immersive, revolutionary – what’s your experience with colour?

Continuing the theme of colour and its subconscious impact on our lives – physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and on our environmental wellbeing – last week I visited an amazing company in Soho called MyCoocoon. For those that are not familiar, MyCoocoon are experts in colour wellbeing products and they design bespoke colour experience solutions. Based on chromotherapy (wellbeing, light and colour therapy), and aimed at relaxing and re-energising, they combine ancestral beliefs with cutting-edge technology. I appreciate that for some people who are unconvinced of the impact colour has on our lives this may seem a little ‘woo-woo’, but for me I was like the cat that got the cream, all my Christmas’s had come at once. 

Speaking with Valerie and her team of colour experts was incredible – I knew I had found an inspirational group of people that were speaking my language. For years I’ve had a fascination with colour, its energy, it’s vibration, and its subconscious power to influence our mindset, our heart rate, our decision-making power and even our body temperature. My approach and interest is quite holistic covering all aspects such as nutrition and the food we choose to put into our bodies, clothing and how we choose to dress on a daily basis, interior design and how we choose to decorate our homes to nourish and nurture our souls, business and how we choose to create a brand and identity for a company, its products, and services. 

Whether we like it or not, the colours we choose to feature and be present in our lives say a lot about us. 

A fully immersive experience – Spectrum Yoga Meditation 

From my experience, the only way to understand the power and influence of the MyCoocoon approach to colour is to get inside a Pod for a 30-minute meditation. There are no words to describe it… immersive certainly doesn’t do it justice, it’s more like embodiment through every fibre of your body and beyond.  

Whilst laying in the Pod, with a blanket over my body to keep me comfortable, I place the headphones over my ears, the pod is lowered so I’m literally cocooned inside, the ‘play’ button is activated on the tablet, and then I hear the relaxing voice that will guide me during the meditation and talk to me through the experience so I receive the optimum benefit.  

Slowly and gracefully the transformation begins. My body and my mind are immersed in key colours in a pre-determined sequence. My eyes are closed but the intensity of colour makes me feel like I’m absorbing it through every part of my body.  Being a yoga meditation, the colour sequence follows that of the Chakras (red, orange, yellow, green, light blue, indigo and violet). What surprised me most is that as I’m lying there I’m transported to a completely different world – almost like an outer body experience. Some of the colours are so intense it’s like you become part of them, fully absorbed and almost living in them. They are not just present in front of my eyes, they occupy my body, extending past the ends of my finger tips and toes – the intensity, vibration and energy overflowing every aspect of my being – truly transformative experience. 

Feeing curious? I actively encourage you to find out where they are next exhibiting and experience it for yourself. There are various methods – the Pod, the Cloud, the Immersion Wall and Energy Hub. 

Let your senses come alive 

Designed to cater for each of our five senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch – the colour passport gives insight into how we can engage our senses. Did you know for example that our sense of smell increases when it gets dark? Why – because our sight is reduced another sense is naturally amplified. 

Feel rebalanced when taking time for yourself with purple 

  • See a lavender field, listen to the birds and the bees, smell the scent of lavender, taste a blueberry and touch amethyst to relieve stress  

Feel peaceful with blue 

  • See the sky, hear the sound of the wind, smell the scent of a geranium, taste elderflower and touch lolite to inspire creative self-expression 

Feel and project yourself to be successful with turquoise  

  • See the sea, hear the sound of the waves, smell the salty water, taste old fashioned lemonade and touch topaz to enhance your communications skills 

Feel balance with green 

  • See a forest, listen to the rustling of leaves, smell the scent of cedarwood, taste a kiwi and touch peridot to open your mind and gain clarity 

Feel optimistic with yellow 

  • See the sun, hear the sound of energy, smell the scent of bergamot, taste a grapefruit and touch citrine to cleanse your mind and regenerate 

Feel happy with orange 

  • See a sunset, hear the sound of joy, smell ylang-ylang, taste a carrot and touch cornaline to bring positive energy 

Feel connected to the earth with red   

  • See a fire, hear the crackle of wood burning, smell the scent of sandalwood, taste a tomato and touch red jasper which helps control our emotions 

Feel connected to love with magenta 

  • See a rose, hear sounds of love, smell the scent of the rose, taste a strawberry and touch rose quartz which symbolises love

From stimulating energy and encouraging self-confidence, to activating our memory and calming the nervous system, the benefits of colour to our wellness and wellbeing are endless.

What colour would you say reflects your personality the most?

Change your frequency – Connect with colour and vibe with your voice

Change your frequency – Connect with colour and vibe with your voice

For those that haven’t had the privilege of meeting or working with Judith, she’s the founder of ‘Your Whole Voice’, and is a public speaking coach, vocal confidence specialist and sound healer. With a background in acting, she is high energy, extremely inspirational and through her business, is on a mission to transform the lives of over 100,000 million people. From ripple to wave, slowly but surely her voice and vibe is going viral, globally. 

This year started with me participating in a competition hosted by Judith whereby I had to create, daily, a 60 second video following a specific challenge; each video was then shared in a closed group Facebook group with other great people from all over the world, vying for their chance to win the range of prizes Judith had on offer. To my surprise, I won a two-day workshop, to take place in London, that gave all participants the opportunity to explore their voice, and to improve their style of public speaking. I had not expected to be filmed during the training (before and after), but there was a marked difference. It’s incredible what 48 hours can do for your vocal confidence.  

Many of the exercises to explore and gain confidence with our voice stemmed from Judith’s professional training as an actress, she truly understands how to connect with your voice, and to find a natural pace and tone where your audience are able to receive and fully hear what you’re expressing. 

Immersive retreat – sound your voice 

From completing the workshop, I felt compelled to join a three-day sound your voice retreat being hosted by Judith in Sussex, to explore my voice, and sound, further. Just for the record, by now I’m feeling well and truly out of my comfort zone – as a child I had a lisp and a stutter, and to this day I still get stuck on certain words.  At a very early age I devised a strategy whereby if I got stuck on a letter or word, I was unable to speak, I’d deviate and find alternative words that meant the same thing, that more readily came out of my mouth. So, for the retreat, l decided to adopt the approach of ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’, with the caveat of ‘enjoy the journey, play, and have fun’. 

And what a journey it was – what I experienced over those three days was quite enlightening. From getting up early in the morning and doing silent walks and barefoot yoga on the grass, to sounding on a hill top in a bracing breeze and at the beach with waves crashing in, there’s no doubt in my mind that, for me, being in nature is an essential part of enhancing my wellbeing.

Prior to the retreat I was relatively familiar with chakras, energy and colour, but I had not fully made the connection with sound and yoga, which is strange because I’ve been doing yoga on and off for 20 years – perhaps it never featured as part of the classes.  Either way, as someone who’s passionate about colour, its energy, vibration, and in the business world how it’s highly influential in how we relate and feel about a brand, I was really intrigued to discover this extended knowledge. 

Colour energy – it’s relation to our body and our voice 

I’m going to dive right in… For those that aren’t familiar with what Chakras are, the part of our body they focus on, the colour they represent, and the sound they are associated with, I’ve provided a snapshot overview – in total there are seven.

Chakra – means ‘wheel’ in Sanskrit. A chakra is an area in the body connected with life energy. There are seven main chakras in the body – each is an interface for the flow of life energy. A chakra vitalises a physical body and is associated with interactions of a physical or mental nature… each carries a specific meaning and colour.

Red

  • The theme for the colour red is survival, security, grounding, family and community.  Red is representative of the ‘Root’ and ‘Muladhara’ chakra; located at our coccyx – the sound associated with the Root is ‘Haw / Hore’, and the yoga poses are warrior and tree.

Orange

  • The theme orange is sexuality, creativity and emotional stability. Orange is representative of the ‘Sacral’ and ‘Svadhisthana’ chakra; located by our belly button – the sound associated with the Sacral is ‘Hoo / Who’, and the yoga poses are wide-angled seated forward bend and goddess.

Yellow

  • The theme for yellow is power, purpose, and wisdom. Yellow is representative of the ‘Solar Plexus’ and ‘Manipura’ chakra, is located at our solar plexus just at the bottom of our ribcage – the sound associated with the solar plexus is ‘Hoe’, and the yoga poses are half lord of the fishes, boat and lion.

Green

  • The theme for green is love, healing and compassion. Green is representative of the ‘Heart’ and ‘Anahaha’ chakra; located at our heart – the sound associated is ‘Haah, and the yoga poses are cobra and camel. \

Light Blue

  • The theme for light blue is communication, self-expression and authenticity. Light blue is representative of the ‘Throat’ and ‘Vishuddha’; located at our throat – the sound associated with the throat is ‘Hi’, and the yoga poses are bridge, fish or shoulder stand.

Indigo

  • The theme for indigo is awareness, intuition and imagination. Indigo is representative of the ‘Third Eye’ and ‘Ajna’; located in the middle of our forehead – the sound associated with the third eye is ‘Hay’, and the yoga pose is child. 

Violet

  • The theme for the violet (or white) is spirituality, enlightenment and interconnection. Violet is representative of the ‘Crown’ and ‘Sahasrara’; located just above the top of our head – the sound associated with the crown is ‘Hee’, and the yoga poses are half lotus, corpse and head stand.

Raise your energy

I can’t remember the last time I did a head stand but over the last 25 years I’ve benefitted hugely from practicing yoga – more recently Vinyasa Flow (which focuses on the smooth way the poses run together), Yin (mostly floor based postures held for  3-5 minutes; it may sound easy but believe me it isn’t, however I do feel like a new person at the end of the class) and Bikram (90 mins, 40+ degrees, 26 postures, from head to toe, a full body and mind workout) – now when participating I have this additional knowledge to tap into. 

Speaking of vibe and tribe, synergies and synchronicities this year have been happening with a wonderfully warm frequency – with opportunities crossing my path, introductions being made through my network, new projects I’m being invited to participate in – perhaps the colours I’ve consciously decided to surround myself with and energy I’ve created around me is acting like a magnetic? What do you do to raise your energy?