Ever wondered what the combination of scarlet and white can do when you have a sudden twinge of hunger? Perhaps, in this ravenous condition, you have envisaged the Zinger Burgers, Hot Wings and Brownie Blast. Wait, now you are already in half a mind to satiate your appetite. At the mention of Red and White pattern, it is highly probable to think of the immensely popular fast food chain KFC.  The caricature image of the smiling Colonel is displayed against a red background that equates his scarlet apron with the company name in bold black inscription below his chin. The distinctive and affable visage of the founder, Colonel Sanders with his signature goatee and glasses have been a benchmark in the fast food industry. Qualifying colour as a hunger-inducer can genuinely sound ludicrous at times, however, it has been proven that colour affects cognition and mood, which in turn exerts an influence on consumers’ decision-making. Each and every colour symbolises something unique and therefore in the consumer market serves as a key element in brand selection.

Colour is a salient feature in the marketing field and has a broad spectrum of applications. It is vital in brand recognition and serves as a tool to identify a product, as in the case of the aforementioned example of KFC. In the market for production, colour is often used as a direct or indirect estimate of lineament. It is also ubiquitous and a powerhouse of information. Research reveals that people make a subconscious judgement about a person, environment or product within 90 seconds of initial viewing and 62-90% of this assessment is based on colour alone. The prudent use of colour not only contributes to the distinction of products in the competitive market but also triggers certain emotions which collectively play a pivotal role in the perception of certain products. Keeping in mind that human beings are temperamental and there is no uniformity in the perception of colours, the mavericks of marketing have to capitalise on it and place their products in the vanguard.

Choosing the Right Colour:-

Some brands such as eBay use a motley of colours which typifies variety. The differences in cultural interpretations have to be taken into consideration in order to convey the appropriate message and express the right impressions in the market you are present in. For example, in the Western Hemisphere, white symbolises ‘’Purity’’ and ‘’Peace’’ whereas, in the Eastern Hemisphere, it stands for ‘’Sinisterness’’ and ‘’Death’’.

There can be two scenarios which enable you to opt for a particular colour for your brand.

If you have competitors in the market, then the colour of the primary competitor is polar and molds your decision. It’s wise to go for a contrasting hue in order to stand out in the ecosystem. Opting for the same colour or a similar shade to your principal competitor can make your product a ‘’me-too’’ product and often yield disastrous results in creating finest impressions among customers.

If you are pioneering an industry or market segment, you have the liberty to choose a colour that describes your product and its various attributes in the best possible way.

 Food industries way of using Colours:-

The red colour and its various shades have a marked effect on our metabolism and stimulate our appetite. Scientific studies prove that it magnifies your heart rate and increases the blood pressure. This makes red a popular choice and it is applied extensively. The colour yellow is employed by fast food moguls to impress customers’ interests. More often than not, the marketing tactics employed by them succeed in bringing out the gluttons in us. Even a confirmed dyspeptic can’t boldly claim to resist the temptation of KFC’s ‘’Chicken Bucket’’ and McDonald’s signature ‘’McChicken Burger’’ and ‘’Fries’’. Without a shadow of a doubt, it’s the best way to generate sales.

By contrast, restaurants with a ‘’formal’’ ambience use a pleasant colour like ‘’Blue’’ to usher a sense of tranquillity among customers. This augments the chances of a customer to linger longer. Longer stays may correspond to generous meals, more wine and beverages thereby resulting in high revenue. This is a cardinal strategy to increase sales by formal restaurants. Michelin-starred restaurants have resorted to this time and again.

Although ‘’Blue’’ is associated with placidity, its extensive use can actually serve as an ‘’Appetite Suppressant’’. Ideally, formal restaurants can’t afford to opt for this method as its outcome would not be desirable. However, the ‘’All-You-Can-Eat’’ style restaurants that offer a buffet at a subsidized rate can benefit enormously from this. Using the colour blue excessively can save the restaurant owner from financial loss if the patrons don’t indulge in gourmandizing. Instead of generating high sales, the owner benefits from plummeting costs. The outcome is the same- increasing the bottom line.

Colours & Brands:-

Colours enkindle brands. Whether it is Heineken’s distinct green label, Coca-Cola’s red, Shell’s yellow or Cadbury’s purple- they all have a different appeal to different customers. Barclays, for example, uses blue to give a message of ‘’trustworthiness’’ and ‘’dependability’’ to its customers. The high importance laid on colour is basically an acknowledgement of a manufacturer’s understanding of human psychology. Designers frequently use the 60-30-10 rule, which implies that the three different colours are used in the ratio of 60%, 30% and 10%. This rule provides a simple way to create a professional colour scheme for your brand. Holograms, a cutting-edge technology and metallic coloured packaging has managed to entice customers and given an edge to Colgate over its primary competitor Proctor & Gamble’s.

Colours & Trends:-

The fashion savants predict trends by taking into account the idiosyncrasies of various segments of the population. They often stick to a timeless hue such as ‘’Black’’ which symbolises ‘’Power’’ and ‘’Elegance’’. Most of the fashion labels like ‘’Giorgio Armani’’, ‘’Prada’’, ‘’Givenchy’’, ‘’Louis Vuitton’’, ‘’Calvin Klein’’ etc are synonymous with using this classic colour to establish their authority. It lends a touch of sophistication and boldness to their products.

Colours & Startups:-

The startups keep in mind the demographics and the psychographics before choosing a colour. It needs to resonate with the audience. In case of an online brand which aims at driving traffic, it’s advisable to choose high contrast colours like black-yellow, red-white to garner attention from a wide audience. A good number of startups use the combination of black and yellow. One such startup is GuitarClub. ‘’We are an event management company which cater to a young audience. Warm and vibrant colours like black and yellow truly complement each other and spell vibrancy and optimism. It represents the emotions that our brand intends to elicit. It’s flashy and fun’’ says Aditi Aggarwal, the Co-founder of GuitarClub. A number of startups which offer fintech solutions observe the landscape of their competition and go in the opposite direction. They place all the colours on a board/screen in order to see all the colours they are going to eliminate. Differentiation is a key to build a charismatic brand.

The colours should match the positioning. A healthcare startup tends to structure itself differently from a hipster clothing store. PharmEasy, a lead generation platform which serves as a platform that connects you to your local pharmacy or registered vendor for the services you have opted for and offers access to the best and most genuine health products opted for green which symbolises ‘’nature’’ and ‘’growth’’.

Colour magnifies the importance of a product. Packaging and store wall colour can drastically affect the sales of a company. Research relating to the choice of colour should be conducted and concluded before launching a product as it has a pivotal role to play in creating the image of the product and the company. Colours also lend credence to the generally accepted confidence in the psychological and marketing of commodities. Global managers keep in mind the need to acknowledge the different meanings associated with specific colours and its role in facilitating multi-segment marketing opportunities. This would ensure that the product achieves its biggest customer base and consolidates its position as a client’s ‘’first choice’’ in its respective domain.

Rusha Sen
A vivacious person who takes keen interest in learning new things and acquiring new skills. She loves all forms of social interaction and is a bibliophile and a fervent writer.
She is an alumnus of St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai and holds a PGDM in HRM from St.Xavier’s College, Kolkata and have written articles for eminent papers like Hindustan Times and Economic Times.