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Brands talk the language of colours; advertisers decode their meaning

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Brands talk the language of colours; advertisers decode their meaning

It’s been proved that colours affect our moods, hence colour therapy. Colours signify different emotions, hence the care we take while choosing the perfect bouquet of flowers. So it’s but natural that marketers and advertisers colour wrap their products for the right appeal that, more importantly, translates into sale at the point-of purchase. exchange4media talks to leading ad honchos on how colour plays an important role for different brands.

In an environment of 360-degree product experience, colour trend serves as a very effective and relevant marketing tool. Colour is the continuity between designing the product, merchandising in the retail space and taking the product home. Colour trends are applicable across all industries – be appliances, fashion, paints, automobiles, technology or even advertising industry.

Keeping this in mind, Freedom Tree Design, which is in the field of colour forecasting, recently organised a Color Trend Conference that was led by international colour forecasting experts from across industries. Freedom Tree Design provides services to companies like Asian Paints, Portico, EID Parryware, General Motors, Godrej, Century Mica, and P&G, among others.

According to Latika Khosla, Creative Director, Freedom Tree Design, colour could give brands an instant recognition as it spoke a global language and transcended vocabulary. She said, “When companies spend millions building brands, an investment in distinctive colours is essential when it comes to logos or packaging or imagery for communication. Colours in advertising reinforce the story the brand is telling. Colours need to be rendered correctly and translate from logo colour to electronic media, to print to retail space in a believable and moderated manner.”

Sumanto Chattopadhyay, Group Creative Director, O&M believed that the colour used in an ad could evoke a certain response from the consumer based on his or her cultural conditioning. He added, “If one were advertising Indian food, for example, the colour saffron could be used to give people a sense of traditional quality and heritage. On the other hand, used in advertising an Ayurvedic spa, the same colour would convey a sense of spiritual peace. Then again, combined with other colours, saffron could cease to represent any of its traditional nuances.”

According to Sourabh Mishra, Chief Strategy Officer, TBWA\India, colours formed an integral part of a brand’s identity and advertising was an important means by which a brand connected with its consumer. He explained, “Colours can thus be used effectively in advertising to ‘brand’ the advertising, such that the ‘visual vocabulary’ used is the brand’s own. This makes it possible for the brand to keep its advertising distinctive.”

Citing examples, he said, “Besides keeping the brand’s identity very distinct in all its communications, colours can also be effectively used to convey a particular attitude or the mood of a brand. An obvious example to illustrate this point would be the communication created by some brands specifically for youth-oriented media like MTV. To connect with the youth and to highlight the youthful aspect of the brand, colours are often used in a much more vibrant and dynamic manner than in the regular communication for the brand.”

Agnello Dias, National Creative Director, JWT, said, “Colours like sounds can depict emotions, moods, time of day, seasons, even geography. So, colours are very important communication tools. Even ‘no colour’ can denote something if used carefully.”

Agreeing with Dias, M G Parmeswaran, Executive Director & CEO, Draft FCB Ulka, said that colours were used by brands to signal emotions, attitude and taste values. He added, “Food brands, for instance, use typical food colours like red, yellow, green, while financial brands use colours that stand for stability, like blue. Colour tastes tend to change with time, almost like a fashion trend. Brands need to be clued in to these trends in order to ride the waves of change.”

Few examples that Parmeswaran cited were those of durable brands like cars and motor bikes using specific colours to signal specific values. For instance, Tata Indigo, the sedan brand from Tata Motors, has often been shown in ‘business’ colours like black and gold. While Indica Xeta, the petrol version of Indica, is shown in fun colours like orange, sky blue and funky green.

According to Freedom Tree Design’s Khosla, some advertisements where great usage of colours was noticed, included Hutch, Amaron, Nerolac, and the recent Reliance ads.

She explained, “As newer areas of industry categories open up, we are seeing new colours coming in. Some of these categories are addressing the young. In the past five to seven years, we have increasingly noticed and recorded in Asia that the colours associated with sensuality has moved from red and scarlet to pink and mauve. This colour also has gained a unisex appeal. So, branding colours in the entertainment, communication and even news categories have moved to this area of colour expression.”

For Prasoon Joshi, Executive Chairman, McCann Erickson, said, “Every brand borrows from a bouquet of colours and associates the identity, the persona of the brand with them. A set of colours is like a language for the brand.”

Joshi added, “Subliminally it cues in instant recall of the brand. Even on occasions when there is no direct advertising message, the colour palette of a brand, if established strongly, can play an important role in brand association and unplanned consumption of the product.”

As an advertising professional, O&M’s Chattopadhyay believes that when creating advertising, one should not try to read too much into the significance of a colour. Connotations of colour are constantly evolving so in any case it is not a static picture. He added, “If we are culturally rooted, we are not likely to go wrong if we let ourselves be guided by instinct in the use of colour.”


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