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Article | September 30, 1998
The color of branding (sidebar)
What colors mean
Color specialists have long known that each color has a different impact on the human psyche. Forest Brumagen director of corporate affairs for Pride Container a corrugated converter in Chicago conducted research into these color meanings. The results published recently in Pride's newsletter are excerpted here. Though green is most recently associated with packaging of healthful foods it is considered to be the most restful color for the human eye and people who work in green environments are believed to have fewer stomach ailments. As an example of the psychological effect of green consider that suicides dropped by a third when London's Blackfriar Bridge was painted green. Blue is equally interesting because for the most part nature does not generate blue foods. Scientists have conjectured that when our earliest ancestors were foraging for food blue and black were visual alerts for possibly deadly food. They theorize that this instinctive signal has been passed on through generations. Even now blue is considered by some to be an appetite supressant. It has been suggested that all-you-can-eat restaurants use blue plates to reduce food consumption and therefore costs. The color red is thought to have the opposite effect: it makes food seem more appealing and causes people to eat more and linger longer. Pink can also cause some of these effects. How can package designers take advantage of specific colors? Dr. Morton Walker author of The Power of Color writes: "Marketing psychologists advise that a lasting color impression is made within ninety seconds and accounts for sixty percent of the acceptance or rejection of an object place individual or circumstance. Because color impressions are both quickly made and long-held decisions regarding color can be highly important to success." Carlton Wagner founder of the Wagner Institute for Color Research in Santa Barbara CA theorizes that colors can be categorized as either "classifiers" or "declassifiers" in a marketing campaign which includes packaging. Classifier colors raise the perception or ranking of a particular product and narrow the market for the product. Examples include forest green and burgundy which are said to appeal to the wealthiest three percent of Americans. They convey a feeling of high quality as well as price. Conversely these colors may not be appropriate for mass-market products. Declassifier colors widen the market for a product because of the popularity of the colors but can also "cheapen" the product. Examples include orange yellow and red. Wagner writes that "Orange draws attention is informal and indicates that a particular product is suitable for everyone. Orange may also be used to make an expensive product appear less expensive." Gray on the other hand "tends to move people or products up the socioeconomic ladder."
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