Colour of the year 2022

Colour of the year 2022

Every year in December Pantone announce their ‘Colour of the Year’ for the forthcoming 12 months. This year, breaking with tradition, they have created a totally new colour called Very Peri, ‘a new Pantone colour whose courageous presence encourages personal inventiveness and creativity’.

From a global perspective, in the last two years we have all experienced huge changes in our work lives, our personal lives, how we operate in our homes and what we want our spaces to create for us. What seems to be becoming ever more present is the capacity and ability for colour to communicate, to connect, and elicit subtle yet extremely powerful changes in our behaviour.

What the experts say…

It was interesting to see the article shared by Pantone announcing the Colour of the Year and to read what Laurie Pressmen, Vice President of the Pantone Colour Institute said about Very Peri…

“The Pantone Colour of the Year reflects what is taking place in our global culture, expressing what people are looking for that colour can hope to answer”.

Executive chairman of the Pantone Colour Institute says…

“As we move into a world of unprecedented change, the selection of PANTONE 17-3938 Very Peri brings a novel perspective and vision of the trusted and beloved blue colour family, encompassing the qualities of the blues, yet at the same time with its violet red undertone, PANTONE 17-3938 Very Peri displays a spritely, joyous attitude and dynamic presence that encourages creativity and imaginative expressions.”

There are many influences that go into shaping the selection made for the Pantone Colour of the Year from art collections, travel destinations, artists and fashion, to believe it or not, sporting events and technology – who would have thought the latter would even be considered in the process. But it’s technology and digital in particular that have played a huge part in enabling new ways of working in these times, as well as enable the birth of several new entrepreneurial business, both large and small. And especially at a time when people are considering their life choices and how they want to transform and evolve in the year ahead.

The influencing qualities of Very Peri

Looking at the positive effects of this slightly lavender – lilac colour, we can make a connection with spirituality, self-awareness, composure and wisdom. For many our priorities have changed in the past 24 months and colour has the capacity to support our wellbeing and in helping people in making more changes in the 12 months ahead.

Picking up on the positive effects of light blue it’s fair to suggest that Very Peri will encourage and create feelings of calm and serenity. Moreover, blue is a psychological primary colour and affects us mentally, and will often help to give us clarity of thought.

Carrying both positive and negative traits, colour affects us all in ways many would not readily be aware of or even consider. In fact, it affects how we behave more than we realise, as well as influencing those around us in our immediate vicinity. Yet whilst colour subtly shifts and influences our behaviour, our choices, and what’s happening subconsciously around us, we all will relate to colour differently – through personal, cultural and psychological associations.

Colour, emotion and action

In addition to trend forecasts, and consultation with global brands, I believe it’s the psychology of colour that plays the most influential role in choosing the ‘Colour of the Year’ and changing our emotions. It’s what people feel, it’s how they connect with colour that drives change, that drives new behaviours, that causes people to make new, different choices that are more in alignment with their true authentic selves.

At a time when people need serenity and calm, coupled with inspiration and creativity, perhaps Very Peri will be the colour that creates emotions that people can’t ignore – turning these emotions into action. Perhaps this colour will inspire the change that people want to see in many areas of their lives – not only personally and in their work life – but in now they connect with themselves and others – mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

For me, I find Very Peri calming and centring. It may not be the colour I’d choose to paint my kitchen and dining room as it may suppress my appetite (not necessarily a bad thing after Christmas), but it would possibly be a good choice for a bedroom or a space I wanted to just ‘be’ or to meditate to encourage awareness and allow whispers of wisdom to appear.

Header image – Photo by Sonny Sixteen from Pexels

Autumn Adventures – Playing in the Lakes with Vinnie

Autumn Adventures – Playing in the Lakes with Vinnie

This Autumn I wanted to strike out and go on another Vinnie Adventure before Winter truly arrived. Over the summer various friends had been up to Cumbria, the Peak District and into the Lakes and I began to feel the beginnings of a plan being hatched.

Being fuelled by the attraction of discovering new places and walking on new ground – well for me at least – I found myself checking out some new spots around Windermere. A big lover of my name-sake Miss Beatrix Potter, there was a natural pull to visit Hill Top and remind myself of all the ground breaking things this extraordinary lady did in her time. Back then women were not championed in carving their own path, they were expected to stay home, choose a husband and marry ‘well’ (whatever that means), and fall into what society expected of them. But Miss Potter was different – she had a love of nature, drawing, and painting, and she had a vivid imagination that conjured up the most amazing stories like ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’, ‘The Tale of Jemima Puddle Duck’, ‘The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin’ and many more.

I’m not too sure why I’m sharing this now – but I guess I’ve just noticed a synchronicity that it was Barbara Hepworth that inspired my trip down to Cornwall, and it was Miss Potter that inspired my trip to the Lakes. Both extraordinary women do extraordinary things.

Honister Pass – Valley View

If it was not for Potters imagination, her following her passion, and writing her wonderful books that I loved as a child – we may not have been able to enjoy the Lake District as we are able to today. She preserved the landscape, the geography of the land, and in doing so, has enabled thousands, in fact more like millions of people to enjoy this luscious, mountainous, and adventurous part of our country.

So, whilst many politicians are busy knocking the great out of Great Britain, I wanted to experience something that is truly great about Britain – and for me, that’s the landscape in the Lake District.

Borrowdale and Honister Pass – exploring new territory

The last time I was in the Lakes was about seven or eight years ago over the August Bank Holiday weekend. Back then I’d joined a lovely guy I was dating at the time on a walking weekend near Windermere and we’d all stayed in a beautiful youth hostel. For this autumnal trip it was the middle of November, and it was a particularly soggy week, so I got online to check out which YHAs naturally caught my attention as I figured I may want alternative accommodation to Vinnie – my van. It was Borrowdale YHA that immediately jumped out and caught my attention. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it initially, but on arrival I think it was its remoteness as it literally is in the middle of nowhere, and only a few kilometres from Honister Pass – a cheeky little number I had in mind to cycle over.

Honister Pass – Slate Mine

Following my motto of ‘seize the day’ on arrival I took the decision to get into my lycra and set off on a two-wheeled adventure. Typical of me, I’d read a little (but not enough to put me off). So, 5 km into my ride I found myself going up Honister Pass! For those that don’t know, this is a long drag of a hill, that ramps fairly swiftly up to 25% and more. Laying as flat as possible over my handlebars to stop my front wheel bouncing off the tarmac as I continued to ride, I soon rose through the mist and arrived at the summit of the climb. Even in the wet, soggy, grey mist it was a beautiful, panoramic view.

Honister Pass before I drop down into the mist!

What also became quickly apparent was the acute drop the other side! Not only was it narrow, wet and slippery, it was 26% and more, but this time downhill. Too steep to whizz down without touching my brakes, and watching the time as I wanted to get back to Borrowdale YHA before nightfall, I slowly set off with my brakes musically echoing around the hills.

Borrowdale YHA and my little wooden pod

My cycle ride took me all around the rolling lanes and after 60km or so I cycled through Keswick and then back to my home for the evening. As the rain drilled down and wind whirled through the trees, I was relieved and pleased that I’d had the foresight to book myself a little wooden cabin. Nestled in the green entrance to Borrowdale these basic yet cosy pods sleep two, they have no running water or the convenience of a loo, but they are warm, comfortable and quiet which made me feel more up close and personal with Mother Nature. Not only that, I was able to enjoy the heat of a roaring log fire in the communal area of the hostel and chat with fellow adventurers before I retired for the evening, and to what turned into a 12-hour sleep.

Friendship, laughter and play – a hat-trick of happiness!

Going up ‘North’ also gave me the opportunity to catch up with a couple of lovely girlfriends I’ve known for many years but have not seen for some time. At the beginning of my trip, I caught up with Fiona. I met Fi, at University in Nottingham where we were both studying Textile Design – Fi focused on construction in ‘knit’, and I focused on surface pattern in ‘print’. We studied together for three years and also lived together for two and a half years. In that time, we made hundreds of amazing memories, laughed lots, skied lots, drank lots, and danced lots. This time round it was a little calmer as our time was quite compact and it was wonderful to sit down for dinner, catch up on many of the incredible life events that have happened in the time we’d not connected, and it felt like no time had lapsed at all.

On the tail end of my trip, I caught up with Heather, a fabulous and vivacious young lady that I met doing my one and only ski season in 1999-2000. Both finding ourselves in Courchevel 1850, in the Haute Savoire region in France, we worked for different ski companies, yet we bonded over drinks and playing games in the Jump Bar, chatting about boys that had caught our attention, and enjoyed many swooshes down the slopes over our five months in our snow bubble. In the 21 years that have passed we’ve lived in different places, worked different jobs, enjoyed several beach adventures on the south coast, and now I’m getting to join her husband and her family of three wonderful boys in the gorgeous home in countryside. From collecting the boys from school and walking in the woods, to creating pirate ships out of lounge room furniture and exploring new villages – it was a blissful, whistle stop tour and I loved every second.

Heather and I – Lovely!

What was wonderful about seeing both of these brilliant ladies was that it seemed like only yesterday since I’d seen them last. There’s a saying I heard, I can’t remember when, but it’s about friendship – it’s either for a reason, a season, or a lifetime – I’m very happy to say that both Fi and Heather are ‘lifetime’.

The seasons are changing, a new chapter awaits!

As we pass the winter solstice – the day with the fewest hours of daylight – we move into a new chapter. With everyday there will be a glow on the horizon as the days slowly lengthen and we move towards the new year, then springtime. I did have plans to watch the solstice sunrise but for one reason or another (Covid) I was unable to be outside. So, as the new year begins to unfold, I’ll be making an extra special effort to enjoy many a sunrise – be that near my home in south London, or further afield on more adventures in Vinnie. I’m excited to see what the new year has in store for me.

No doubt there will be much laughter, love and enjoyment of this beautiful journey we call ‘life’. Let also the new year be a celebration of doing things differently and carving my own path.

The last glimpse of daylight before night time arrived.

‘IF’ – The poem in the slate

This state stone has the word ‘IF’ carved into it, it’s located at the top of Honister Pass. For those that don’t know, ‘IF’ is a famous poem by Rudyard Kipling. The slate captures the first two sections only, so I’ve captured the full poem below.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master,
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

‘IF’ – Rudyard Kipling

Cornish Creations – Me, myself and I

Cornish Creations – Me, myself and I

For years I’ve wanted to go away on a multi-day solo adventure but for some reason I’ve never plucked up the courage. I don’t know why as I’ve travelled around the world to hundreds of amazing destinations with friends and joined several group cycling holidays to many a mountain range, yet a proper ‘solo, on my own’ trip has eluded me.

Why? I don’t know as I’m very happy in my own company. In the back of my mind perhaps I’ve always wondered what if I get bored or lonely, and “Will people think I’m strange?” so that’s stopped me from putting any ideas into action. However, in September 2020 (the crazy year when it all went a bit bonkers), I brought a VW campervan who I’ve named ‘Vinnie’. 12 months ago, I made a promise to myself that by the close of September 2021 I’d have gone on a solo multi-day trip with me, myself and I in Vinnie.

Initially I had planned to drive down to the South of France for my friend Adeline’s 40th birthday celebrations, followed by a few days in the Southern Alps enjoying the mountain air before I drove back to home. But all the travel restrictions put me off, so my van adventure across France will have to happen sometime in 2022. Having been gifted a rather fabulous book authored by Martin Dorey titled ‘TAKE THE SLOW ROAD’ which talks about inspirational journeys round France by Camper Van and Motorhome, the world is my shrimp (as my mother would say).

For now, the Cornish coast was calling! And I discovered a place called Mylor Harbour… not only was it stunning, the campsite was wonderful and the village had one of the most incredible seafood restaurants right on the harbour where I met a friend for a drink and watched the sunset. It was here I decided to treat myself so some local seafood delights and I wasn’t disappointed.

On a pedal adventure – taken just outside Mevagissey

Sculpture and art beckon

The inspiration for me taking a trip to Cornwall stems from 25 years ago when I was at Uni in Nottingham studying Textile Design. In my third and final year I discovered and felt rather spell bound by the work of Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, so much so my drawing and painting were driven by their genius.

For those that don’t know, the Barbara Hepworth Museum is located in St. Ives, way down the peninsula in Cornwall where the mining industry thrived many moons ago. Upon the arrival of Hepworth in St. Ives the town really began to transform into an artist mecca. Over the years she was heavily involved in championing the creative industries which attracted huge talent to the area. Now in St. Ives there’s a thriving community of artists, potters, painters, jewellers and other creatives who get their inspiration from nature – just as Hepworth herself did.

Barbara Hepworth Museum, St. Ives, Cornwall

Traditionally when I think of a museum a big, grand, and cavernous building is conjured up in my head, however the museum in Cornwall was quite the opposite. On arrival I discovered a small building, a tiny house in fact, with a fantastic studio space and perfectly formed garden where many of her sculptures are now homed. It felt quite special to be in the space where she spent many years creating some of her most well-known, world-famous sculptures. In the garden the pieces are preserved loving by a team of specialists who honour the material the pieces are created from, with the aim of maintaining them for art lovers to enjoy and admire for decades to come.

Nature is the inspiration

I’ve always been inspired by nature. The contours of the land, edges of lakes, curves of pebbles on the beach, the sculptural nature of flowers and petals, rugged spikes in the mountains, and the vast majesty of the Stawamus Chief which is located along highway 101 British Columbia, Canada between Vancouver and Whistler Village, at 700m in height it overlooks the nearby waters of Howe Sound. A little fact – second to Ayres Rock, the Stawamus Chief is second biggest monolith in the world.

In the garden of the museum there are many sculptures and what I love about them most is how they change in the light. The day I was there it was a feast between grey skies, showers and a sneaky peak of sunshine. But when the sun comes out it creates some wonderful contrasting light and the sculptures kind of frame each other as you walk around them and see them from a different perspective.

Barbara Hepworth Musem, St. Ives, Cornwall

When I first discovered Hepworth some 20 years ago, I didn’t appreciate just how big an impact she had made on me, and so many people before me. She really was quite a formidable woman – leading the charge, striking forward and carving new ground, no pun intended, yet years on her sculptures are still utterly mesmerising. Her creations are timeless, sensuous, and beautifully modern.

Discovering Cornish Ports – Making it up as I go along

Whilst down in Cornwall I look the opportunity to explore some coastal paths on foot which was stunning, but ended up covering more ground by bike. One thing I remember from my childhood from visiting St. Agnes, Perranporth, and many other beaches is how pretty the coast is and how typically Cornish the coves and tiny ports are. After a long night of rain, I’d decided to check into an AirBnB in Portscatho where a met a lovely couple and their family. And once again I fell in love with the Cornish coastline. When bathed in sunshine it shines even brighter. Whilst keeping the sea on my right I made up a route as I went along… turning left, turning right, going down wonky narrow lanes to be greeted by curvaceous cove after cove, beautiful village after beautiful village, the rugged landscape just rolled on and on.

Cycling down into Mevagissey

My ride took me from Portscatho across the Roseland Heritage coast to Portloe, Portholland, Penare, Gorran Haven, Portmellon, Mevigissey (where I had the most amazing piece of cod for lunch and chatted to some lovely ladies on their holiday), through Tregiskey, Pentewan and up to St. Austell before I meandered through some more 17% and 1:5 hills en route back to Portscatho. Next time I’m down there I’ll have to make up some more routes and see where I end up.

The cycle ride I discovered when heading out of Mylor was pretty stunning too and it was definitely a novel thing to do to have to catch a ferry from Flushing to Falmouth only 3km in. I do like the sense of surprise when doing something unplanned and new, and also chatting to the people I meet en route, always lots of interesting characters with often funny and entertaining stories to share.

One of the many ports… Portloe I think!

New adventures on the horizon

My next opportunity to embrace a solo adventure is in mid-November. As much as I’d love some winter sun, I’m also feeling myself drawn to staying nearer to home – perhaps the Lake District or the Brecon Beacons… time will tell but the ideas are flowing. Wherever I choose to go I know mountains will be a feature, and hopefully some blue skies and sunshine.

Portscatho Beach just before sunset

A colourful return to nature creates a sense of wellbeing

A colourful return to nature creates a sense of wellbeing

The pandemic has created a seismic shift in human behaviour. We have adapted well to new ways of working and new ways of communicating with our friends and family, but how will the hospitality industry use colour to connect with the new type of customer that is emerging?

Reassuring the post-corona consumer

Colour is a powerful tool and it has ability to control the emotional noise that surrounds us. I think it’s fair to say that the last year has been a rollercoaster of emotions from worry and anxiety with the announcement of the first lockdown in March 2020 to frustration and confusion with the ongoing uncertainty as we enter a new year.

Like many other sectors, the hospitality industry has been hit exceptionally hard all over the world but I’m sure the appetite that many humans have to travel, see and experience other parts of the world remains. Having been cooped up in our homes and restricted to our local areas (in some cases only a 5km radius from our front-door) – as human beings we are craving a change of scene, to get away from our daily routine, and to have shared experiences with loved ones that help us reset, recharge and refocus.

Beach - reflect, recharge, refocus
Image by Thomas Lipke

The new meaning of colour in hotel design

As we continue to move through 2021, I believe colour will play an increasingly significant part in hotel design. Whilst the world is undergoing one of the biggest global ‘resets’ in decades – with many people re-evaluating their lives, how they use their homes, where they want to live, their choice of career, right down to the way they wish to show-up and be present in the world – this is also a tremendous opportunity for hotels to ‘reset’, refresh and reinvent themselves ready for the new customer that will emerge post pandemic.

In some instances that may be a guest that’s looking for a high-end, luxury and high-tech experience that gives them the power to control and operate everything in their room or suite from an electronic device, to the more environmentally values based guest who’s seeking to immerse themselves in nature and to find a destination that has focused on bring the outdoors in and adopted a more ‘biophilic’ style to their architecture and design that enables humans to reconnect with nature. Moreover, perhaps where a hotelier has sourced all their products locally and from sustainable sources – the two types of customer are very different and demand a different colour scheme and design style. Given the fact we’ve had so much screen time in the past 12 months post pandemic it’s likely we will see a surge of the environmentally values based consumer.

In addition, just as colour has the ability to create an effective and productive workplace, it also has the ability to evoke an emotion and a positive memorable experience at a hotel. Remember your guest’s make decisions based on their emotions and colour has the ability to influence our emotions and change our behaviour – so it’s imperative for a hotel to get their colour scheme right to establish true, meaningful connections with their guests.

Common pitfalls to avoid when choosing colour

Choosing a colour scheme for a hotel is hugely complex and an expensive decision to get wrong. It’s important to think about what the hotel brand stands for, who their ideal guest is (who do they want to appeal to), what do they want their hotel to offer that others don’t, what behaviours do they want to elicit, what feeling’s do they want to evoke, what memories do they want their guests to take away with them – all of these elements and more need a huge amount of consideration.

“Choosing a colour scheme because it’s ‘on trend’ means you’re following someone else’s version of ‘good’ or ‘great’.”

Emma Potter

So, when choosing a colour scheme, consider this:

Brilliant white

I would recommend that you avoid choosing brilliant white to paint a space, whether it’s big or small. From a psychological stand-point white may be perceived as perfection to bring a sense of calm and quite; yet on the flip side it makes a space feel sterile, cold and lifeless. It reminds me of stark, clinical hospitals which is not a vibe or experience a hotelier wishes their guests to experience whilst on vacation. However, I do appreciate that some architects may be a fan of using white as it shows off the lines in the design and construction of a space, or the sculptural fluid curves that may be been employed as part of the design – but it does nothing to invigorate and comfort the human spirit in post-Covid times.

- Over satiation

Just as it’s important not to saturate a space with brilliant white, it’s equally not advisable to saturate a space with any ‘one’ colour. All colours, with the exception of pure greys, have positive and negative psychological aspects. Of course, grey may make us feel safe because it has the capacity to help us blend in with the background but for me it’s quite nondescript and when surrounded by it for too long depletes my energy levels, resulting in me feeling drained and lethargic. Equally if I was immersed in a red space initially, I may feel energised and excited but if I remain in a red room for a long period of time, I’m likely to become agitated and annoyed because I’ve been over stimulated by the colour.

Think about the space as a whole

When designing for a space it’s easy to get carried away with the colour scheme on the walls, but it’s important to think about the space as a whole. There are many elements to consider, from the walls, carpets, and cabinetry, to soft furnishings (including fabric type and textures as well as the construction of and / or print pattern), to lighting, glassware and the many accessories that adorn and embellish an environment. Think about the design journey and space as ‘one’ and the experience you with so take your guests on will flow.

Tonal harmony

A colour scheme will always come together and be a success when the colours chosen relate and come from the same tonal group. When colours don’t harmonise it generally creates a sense of confusion or disharmony which guests will pick up on innately, but what they won’t always be able to identify or articulate is ‘why’ they feel this sense of discomfort. In essence it all comes down to selecting a colour palette that has tonal harmony.

Choosing a colour because it’s on trend

I imagine opting for a colour scheme because it’s ‘on trend’ is more common than we realise. Yet to help us choose the right colour scheme it would be good to understand how, as humans, we relate to colour – be that psychologically, personally and symbolically. Additionally, it makes senses to understand the influence of both the positive and negative traits, plus the application and proportion of colour used to create the desired results. Choosing a colour scheme because it’s ‘on trend’ means you’re following someone else’s version of ‘good’ or ‘great’, and not tuning into your intuition to discover your own. There are many well-respected paint-manufactures who make trend predictions at the beginning of every year like Pantone, Dulux, Farrow and Ball or Benjamin Moore – these are great places to go for inspiration, but in the end, make sure you select a colour palette and design style that’s right for your brand and the experience you wish to create – in the end it’s all about creating an immersive and memorable customer journey.

Clever ways of injecting colour to enhance your wellbeing

The idea of connecting hotel design and hospitality with nature is not new, yet in response to the pandemic there has been some discussion of the re-emergence and rise of biophilic design – which builds on the idea that as humans we have an innate attraction to, and love of, the nature world. This would possibly explain why people will happily pay more for a room with a view of never-ending mountain ranges or the expansive horizon of the sea – as these vistas will most likely deliver an incredible glowing sunrise to start your day whilst sipping on a delicious cup of freshly brewed coffee or tea, or to end your day with a mesmerising sunset whilst enjoying a chilled glass of rose or perhaps a gin and tonic as a sundowner.

Sunset
Image by Pixabay

In essence ‘Biophilia’ means ‘love of life’, however, when it comes to biophilic design this does not mean putting in a few plants as a token gesture. It means embracing all elements of biophilic design, a true engagement of all our senses – sight, taste, hearing, touch and smell – to help us understand and absorb what’s going on around us. This means using natural materials such as wood, maximising natural light, making organic shapes a priority, and using a range of plants to create a sense of the great outdoors – all of which helps to balance our emotions and support our emotional wellbeing whilst introducing a natural range of tones, shapes and colours. In this way, not only do we create a space where guests feel safe and secure, we enable them to better connect with themselves by creating a peaceful, tranquil environment, making it a memorable meaningful experience that they’ll want to come back for, time and time again, year in, year out.

Feature image by David Clode on Unsplash

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

Influencer Marketing – the do’s and don’t’s from specialists in their field

Influencer Marketing – the do’s and don’t’s from specialists in their field

Last week I joined a networking event hosted by the Surrey Blogger Collective. A totally new event for me as my usual stomping ground is London, but in recent month’s I’ve made a conscious decision to connect with entrepreneurs in the great boundaries of our wonderful capital. Why? Because there’s so many inspirational people out there living incredible lives, establishing new career paths, that in previous years were unimaginable. 

The rise of the influencer  

With Fatima Truscott, Fashion Journalist and Lifestyle Blogger behind the FT Times hosting, the Autumn Social networking event titled ‘Success Behind The Squares’ presented a fantastic line up of speakers, namely psychologist and blogger Anna Mathur, YouTube Star and Channel Mum SJ Strum, Parenting and Lifestyle Blogger Keely Busby, and Co-Founder and Company Director of Wickerwood, Shirley Leigh-Wood Oakes. 

Here are some of the insight’s speakers shared on the night…

Quality and authority 

Focus on quality and authority, both micro and nano influencers, look at who they are, what stories are they telling, are they stimulating their audiences, and are they real, authentic and honest? Your followers will see through content that isn’t genuine, especially when sponsored ads pop into their feed. It’s essential to engage with your followers… reply, comment, feedback… and have a voice. As consumers, we have a love hate relationships with ads – the lines are becoming more blurred. Do consumers even know or recognise one from the other?

Authenticity 

Write about what you think and be authentic. As an influencer you are the middle person between the brand and the audience, you have a responsibility to have a two-way communication, and feedback audience comments to the brand. Be natural. Be human. Focus on great followers, know your community, and don’t be anything that you are not. 

Recognise your worth 

Know your value and what you’re giving to the brand. Remember brands have a budget to work with so don’t work for free. Be confident in yourself and recognise your worth. We proud of the brands you work with, and work with brands that fit into your lifestyle. Influencers used to be at the end of the conversation, now they are right at the start – for example a real mum showing how a product fits into her and her family’s life, in her home – for a brand this is priceless. 

Be relatable 

Be gentle, relate to your audience, and understand how you connect. Think audience first, how will my audience feel about me sharing this post and be responsible for your representation of a brand. 

Gifting 

It’s been suggested that influencers need to make it known when they have been gifted a product that they are posting. Or do they? It’s not legal, but remember your audience and community want authenticity, so it’s probably best to reflect reality. It’s an interesting question to ask and address as currently celebrities are not subjected to this… so why the influencer? Do you think influencers should write a disclaimer if they have been gifted a product? I’m sure this conversation will continue…

Click and pay 

Platforms and new technology have launched features that make it easy for the consumer to ‘click and pay’ on social, so in theory a follower is only three clicks away from making a purchase. If that’s the case for Instagram, imagine what’s coming for TV?

Use the features available 

Maximise what’s available within Instagram, use all of their features and get familiar with IGTV. Understandably they want to keep users within the Instagram platform and video content is more-sticky; it also helps to increasing dwell time. Embrace the changes and be the early adopter of new features and channels. Instagram TV has vast volume and reach. 

Themed content and frequency 

It’s incredibly useful to have a schedule, not only for your structure, but it also provides a reason for your followers to come back and check in with you. For example, create one themed video a week on YouTube on a Monday – your followers will grow to expect an engaging piece of content from you, so give them what they want. Read the YouTube bible, go to workshops, they will show you how to use the channel and tools available. When picking a theme, stay true to what your content is and stay true to you. Stick to your principles, share what you’re passionate about and know what you are there for. 

Establish your boundaries – Instagram is always hungry, what are you feeding it?

It’s good to understand why you have chosen to use Instagram. It’s also good to know what it’s giving back to you – for example escapism, financial freedom, community, friendship, connection, a place to freely express yourself. With this in mind, know and establish your boundaries, the frequency that you wish to post, and stay healthy. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you need to respond straight away, DM and reply to everyone who’s messaged you, follow up and review all notifications… but this can be a challenge and also very time consuming. 

Here, Anna Mathur – psychotherapist, mum, writer and speaker – discusses and shares her thoughts about the pros and cons of being an influencer on Intragram. With 79K followers, there’s potentially a lot of people for her to respond to – yet she makes a point of responding to all of her messages. People are emotionally connected to influencers, however, being a psychotheratist means Anna follows an ethical code of conduct and can’t give mental health advice. 

Without knowing it, people and Instagram will take and take and take, so it’s imperative to know what Instagram is giving back to you. As an authentic influencer our soul is in our content – it’s hard therefore, to hear negative feedback. But there’s always more positive than negative. Be mindful to not base your value on what other people think (they may be having a really bad day). Trolling can also become an issue… so remember to stand strong in your foundations, know you are loved, these are the truths, and know you are enough. 

Moreover, as an influencer it’s not uncommon to get what Anna calls an ‘Insta wobble’ or ‘funk’. She deals with them by taking the pressure off having to post every day. It’s also important to remember that not every post will receive the same amount of likes and that’s OK, not everyone or everything appeals to your audience. People are drawn to authenticity so going back to a point mentioned earlier, be true to you and stick to your principles. Don’t be scared to take a break and don’t filter yourself.

On the flip side of being connected to thousands of people, downtime must also be a priority. Leave your phone in another room so it’s out of reach. Find a balance and do things that fuel and energise you – exercise and doing something physical is really important. If yoga keeps you stable, do it daily or weekly. We need to find ways to reinvest in ourselves to stay healthy. Selfcare (or self-preservation) is essential. Everyone benefits when we look after ourselves. 

Don’t berate yourself for not finishing things… life happens 

To all influencers… some final words for @annamathur – My content enables other people to have a voice. I consider the content that I put out, there’s thought behind it – it is filtered to keep my boundaries in place. I value my family’s privacy therefore I don’t show my husband or my children’s faces, and that’s the right decision for me and my family. I am a professional and I have to be accountable – when necessary I signpost people for help – see their GP, call 111, or call 999. 

When in doubt, ground yourself by putting your feet on the floor. Be grounded in your truth, you are loved, you are doing good stuff (teaching and educating), everything else is just subjective, it’s noise, it’s opinion… 

You can find out more about the Surrey Blogger Creative here. I know I will be attending more of their events in the future. Feel free to come and join me. 

Marketing weaponry – Love your brand

Marketing weaponry – Love your brand

As someone who loves getting involved with the nitty gritty of what make a brand successful, working on projects to establish a brand’s identity, right from the outset, is one of the most exciting projects to work on. 

No only does your brand communicate your business’ beliefs, values, products and services to your customers, partners, suppliers, and other third parties – it also communicates to your competitors. It is therefore imperative to review your brand messaging at regular intervals, and when the market demands, to ensure you’re brand communications are on message and are relevant to your target audience. Moreover, from an internal perspective, your brand will also play an important part to attract, recruit and retain the right talent to your business. 

Why your brand message is so important 

Whether you are launching a new brand to market or you are looking at a brand refresh, various components need to be considered when you establish brand guidelines for your business. 

Here are some questions to get you thinking… What companies inspire you? Who are you up against from a competitor standpoint? What are your brand product and services? What’s your vision: what do you want to be? What’s you mission: how are you going to achieve your vision? What’s you brand essence: the core thought behind everything you do? What are you brand values? How do you want your brand (and people who work for your brand) to act? What’s your elevator pitch (this needs to be something you’d say to your mates down the pub)? What’s your tone of voice? What messaging do you need to specify around each product and service? Integrated with these questions is your brand personality – this helps to communicate what you want your customers to feel about your brand. 

When I’m working with a client to develop their brand messaging I always make sure each communication delivers a customer benefit, supports the brands values, communicates their personality and conveys a relevant message – always communicate in a fewer words as possible. 

Developing your brands look and feel 

To bring your brand to life visually you need to clearly brief your internal designers or external design agency with what you want you brand to represent. Having a comprehensive brand guidelines document to share at the briefing stage will help you do just that as they form the cornerstone and anchor for all branded communications. 

From here your design team or agency will be in a position to develop and propose various brand routes using the right colours, shapes, tones and imagery – all are equally as important as the written and verbal message you wish to communicate – they need to compliment and work together to successfully convey your brand clearly, succinctly and consistently. 

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

When to consider a rebrand 

Throughout a company’s lifetime it may choose to rebrand and create a new brand identity – this decision will be driven by a number of factors: 

Change in management and leadership 

All the CEO’s I’ve worked with have had a clear vision and direction for the business they are leading, therefore a new CEO may trigger a rebrand to breathe new life into a business. 

Customer engagement and wider audience appeal 

A drop in customer engagement with often prompt a business to re-access and refresh its brand communications.  Moreover, if you’re aiming to broaden your target demographic then your brand messaging will need an overhaul to engage a new audience. 

Mergers and acquisitions

These provide the perfect opportunity to consider a rebrand to encapsulate and update the brands USPs and to re-position a brand in the market. 

Demergers

When a company has been separated from a larger organisation it is essential for that business to establish it’s own brand identity to clearly demonstrate it is no longer part of the organisation. 

Differentiation

Every business has it’s own set of USPs that need to be clearly communicated through its branding. With such a competitive landscape, and rivals with similar messages to communicate, businesses need to make every effort to differentiate and create standout to stay ahead of the competition. 

There are a host of other reasons why a company many rebrand – to launch a new product or service to market; when expanding into new, international markets and the existing brand has negative connotation or associations; to create brand consistency that reflects transformation, and a new direction for a business – there are multiple opportunities and all need to have the right strategic plan in place.  

Building brand value and equity: what’s your strategy? 

Throughout the last 15 years or so I’ve had the pleasure of working along side some very inspirational, visionary CEO’s and MD’s to make things happen for their business. Together we have created some incredible, memorable journeys to establish and launch their brand to market, to incorporate the acquisition of new brands into their business, and build their brand equity to point of sale.

The power of content to engage your audience and drive lead generation

The power of content to engage your audience and drive lead generation

The motto ‘Content is king’ has been around for decades and at it’s core this statement still remains true. For those investing in content marketing there are several stages to consider from outlining your content strategy and selecting the right content platform, to content creation and defining the metrics that measure perceived success. 

Moreover, depending on your objectives, you’ll need to decide if responsibility for your content marketing resides internally with your in-house marketing team, or externally with your appointed PR or digital/SEO agency. 

One thing is for sure – both will want to get involved with defining, building and executing your content marketing strategy: And quite rightly so as they have different, yet complimentary skillsets to bring to the table. In my personal experience it makes sense for any agencies you’re engaging with to work together in a collaborative fashion to achieve the desired results for their client. 

8 reasons why investing in content marketing is good for business

  1. Releasing updated articles and interactive content within digital solutions can have up to 70% more conversions in comparison to static content, which is around 36% (Source: Markereer.Kapost)
  2. Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3x as many leads.  (Source: Demand Metric)
  3. 46% of UK marketers struggle to produce content consistently 
  4. 78% of consumers believe that organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships with them (Source: McMurry/TMG)
  5. 77% of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience (Source: Forrester)
  6. 78% of consumers will only engage offers if they have been personalized to their previous engagements with the brand (Source: Marketo)
  7. 72% of marketers are producing significantly more content than they did a year ago (Source: CMI)
  8. Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3x as many leads. (Source: Demand Metric)

The perfect pair – Artificial Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence

The perfect pair – Artificial Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence

Machine learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data – have we arrived at a point where, fundamentally, these buzzwords have merged into one and they mean the same thing? They certainly seem to appear to be joined at the hip.

For those that would like a definition, according to Tech Target ‘Machine Learning is a type of AI that allows software applications to become more accurate in predicting outcomes without being explicitly programmed. The basic premise of machine learning is to build algorithms that can receive input data and use statistical analysis to predict an output value within an acceptable range.’

The growth of MarTech 

The growth of MarTech platforms has been exponential. In the CRM space HubSpot and Salesforce probably have the highest market share when it comes to managing a businesses sales and marketing efforts, with both platforms offering a range of cool features to monitor and track prospect engagement throughout the sales funnel, including lead prediction and scoring. At launch, both businesses were relatively early adopters of emerging technology. The co-founders of HubSpot, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah set out to launch an online marketing platform, to address the flagging success of direct mail and other more traditional marketing activities – seeing amazing growth, the company brought in $82.3 million in revenue in Q1 2017.

Investment in AI takes centre stage 

I am a firm believer that the technology and software we have access to today needs to serve humans, and bring faster, more cost effective solutions for businesses seeking to solve challenges around customer engagement, loyalty and retention. 

Other big tech companies continue to flex their AI muscle – Microsoft, Amazon, and Google to name a few, all have huge research budgets to help them stay ahead of the competition.  Moreover, interest and investment into AI has experienced incredible growth with Google acquiring Deepmind for $400 million in 2014 and Microsoft launching a new fund for AI start-ups in December 2016.  

We’ve even seen industry associations such as the IAB launch an AI / ML Working Group to help marketing, technology and advertising executives understand, and navigate the impact new and emerging AI / ML MarTech platforms are having on the industry. As awareness in big brands and corporations is considered to be low, gathering knowledge on how this topic – and how you can use it – will definitely aide ones career.

GAFA – tech giants to watch 

The big four to watch in the tech space are Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. Big money is being spent on acquisitions and R&D with Google reported to have spent between $20 and $30 billion on AI in 2016 (with 90% spent on R&D and deployment and 10% on AI acquisition), according to McKinsey. Launched in 2014, Google’s Alexa has certainly become the leading digital assistant in many homes across the globe.  

Deep learning AI provides a wealth of data to help brands and businesses better understand their customers, and the insight and tools to better engage with them. Having already introduced facial recognition technology in 2010, Facebook now plans to personalise what matters to each user, populating timelines with things they genuinely care about, rather than presenting posts and people they would prefer not to see.

Moreover, it has speculatively been reported that Apple, post the acquisition of AI start-up Emotient in early 2016, will focus on facial recognition technology and customers reaction to advertisements.

Is it just me of is it all starting to feel a little bit ‘BIG BROTHER’? 

Emotional Intelligence – the human element 

Whilst technology continues to evolve and global businesses lap up solutions being delivered to market, in my eyes technology most certainly does not replace the human brain. Data, through AI does provide tremendous insight, along side the great minds of many a data scientist – but it does not automatically deliver answers to all of the challenges faced.

Many CIO’s and CEO’s maintain the view that the application of ‘Emotional Intelligence’ (EI) has been critical to the success and growth of the businesses they build and lead. In this era of digital transformation, more than ever businesses need senior level executives that have the ability to lead, to influence, to perform and to manage a growing team. And whilst AI provides rational, factual information, there remains a huge role for human interaction, authenticity and connection. 

It’s the team of people you wrap around your product or platform who are the ‘guardians’ to make your business a success. These ‘guardians’ build relationships with stakeholders; manage conflict by having strong social awareness, are aware of both verbal and non-verbal communications between peers, and have the ability to show empathy and really listen to ensure nothing being expressed is overlooked. 

In high-pressure environments those with high levels of EI out perform others – for example, Gartner reported that ‘Top performers in computer programming were measured to have a 1,272% higher productivity rate than the average programmer’. Imagine what you business would achieve if all of our team had high levels of EI? 

In very simple terms, it’s about enabling people and showing them the benefits of becoming super aware, being socially aware, choosing the right response, and being able to positively influence those around them to achieve a shared ‘end result’.