What’s the real colour of Santa’s suit – red or green?

Posted in Branding, colour, colour - psychology, colour education, colour training, Graphic design, Green, Interior design, Red, white on December 11th, 2012 by Bernay

When asked which are the colours that you most associate with Christmas? Most of us are likely to say red, white and green that remind us of snow, holly and berries and also of the legendary figure of Father Christmas.

Different variations of this mysterious gift giving character we know also as Santa Claus or ‘Santa’ have existed in European folklore since before early Christian times. Typifying the spirit of the season, this mythical and historical figure dates back at least as far as the 17th century here in Britain. Surviving pictures of Santa from that era portray him as a portly bearded man dressed in a long, green fur-lined robe!

The red and white images of Father Christmas that are most commonly used today first found popularity in the mid to late nineteenth century in the U.S.A.  Research shows that Coca-cola was not the first soft drink company to use the image of red and white Santa in its advertising. White Rock Beverages used these colours to promote their mineral water in 1915 and ginger ale in 1923. However, it is acknowledged that the massive Coca-Cola campaigns have been largely responsible for the modern red and white Santa image now so ingrained in the public psyche.

But aside from these more commercial associations with red, white and green, we also respond instinctively to the seasonal colours of winter. The brightness and crisp whiteness of snow represents clarity, illumination and renewal. With the warmth of red we associate passion, energy and survival, and a deep pine green relaxes and reassures us.

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Colour psychology: ‘Brit branding’ – is red, white and blue good for you?

Posted in Blue, Branding, colour, colour - psychology, colour education, colour training, colour-psychology, Graphic design, Interior design, Red, white on July 18th, 2012 by Bernay

Just opened at Gatwick, Jamie Oliver’s new restaurant and food concept combines Jamie’s Italian, bakery and a Union Jacks bar with a new food-to-go brand inspired by ‘the joy of flying.’ (The brands’ red and blue colours also neatly associate with what could be described as Britain’s national airline – British Airways!).

Jamie Oliver’s ‘Food-to-go’

Now of course this is THE year for ‘Brit branding’, and so many products from food to clothing and home wares seem to be wrapped in the red, white and blue of the national flag but what do these colours really represent to us? Are they the most appropriate colours to communicate how special and different any product is and appeal to its target market?

The use of colour is an opportunity to communicate the values of the brand. Red and blue are not usually the first colours you would think of to associate with food. The ‘male’ properties of red, and conservative but trustworthy elements of blue in this particular palette combine to give a slightly more traditional look to the design.

I like that the brown packaging style and design seems to marry both the rustic look of Jamie’s Italian with the quirkiness of the Union Jacks restaurant themes. ‘Rustic’ and ‘quirky’ are qualities we more often associate with a palette of muted, off-beat, yellow based colours which being more ‘earthy’ tend to link more in our minds with food. A slightly more orange/red (uncoated) colour such as Pantone 173 would put a little more emphasis on ‘enjoyment’ and our feelings of feeling comfortable or satiated. Adding a little more warmth to the blue with the addition of a little yellow takes it to something like Pantone 7470 which will also sit a little more comfortably with this palette, moving it a little closer to the product proposition (food) and maintaining integrity of both the product and the brand. The colours still retain close enough links to traditional Brit branding and look great with the rustic look of the brown packaging material too.

Pantone 7470

Pantone 173







Other articles you may also like:

3 quick tips for using colour in branding

Going green – McDonald’s?

Red and the Virgin empire



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Jubilee Inspired Colour

Posted in Branding, colour, colour - psychology, colour education, colour training, colour-psychology, Graphic design, Interior design on June 6th, 2012 by Bernay

There is no doubt that 2012 is officially the year in which the UK is officially ‘trending’. Following on from last years’ Royal Wedding, we have just enjoyed the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and are preparing ourselves to host the Olympics. The colours red, white and blue have manifested themselves across all manner of product design and memorabilia.

Pantone’s Diamond Jubilee Guide

However, it’s not just the colours of our national flag that have been trending for a while now, but attention has turned towards the personal colour palette of the Queen herself. Whilst Pantone and London advertising agency Leo Burnett have launched a limited edition Diamond Jubilee colour guide commemorating some of the Queen’s most memorable fashion colour choices, D.I.Y store and paint retailer Homebase have identified several paint colours inspired by the Queen’s colour choices that have been “flying off the store’s shelves”.

All these colours share common characteristics in that they are soft, light, blueish tones. These are typical colours we describe as being a ‘summer’ palette, their slightly ‘bleached’ out delicacy mirrors many of the colours we see around us in the natural world at this time of year. A summer personality is described as calm, balanced and understated. Classic, they appreciate quality and good design.

The colours blue and pink appear to dominate the Queen’s palette and the palette as a whole expresses her personality. Whilst blue can appear quite authoritative, softer hues can be soothing and inspire trust. Soft and approachable, a summer pink, (the ultimate feminine colour!) expresses the part of one’s personality that is nurturing and empathetic.

This palette of colours work well for a sophisticated, perhaps classically inspired interior. Softer blue can be mentally calming and so useful to consider in rooms where rest or quiet contemplation is required. Pink is physically soothing, and worth considering for bedrooms and bathrooms .

Other colours from the Homebase range that work well with this palette are: Meadow, Sky, Summer jasmine, Oyster, Mocha, Pebble, Dove grey and Putty.

Find out more about colour and your personality at in:colour’s ‘Exploring Colour in Your World’ workshop Saturday 21st July 2012! Click here for details!

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Going Green- McDonald’s?

Posted in Branding, colour, colour - psychology, colour and branding, colour education, colour training, colour-psychology, Graphic design, graphic design colour, Interior design on May 21st, 2012 by Bernay

Catching sight of some of the TV advertising and media for McDonald’s recently, I am fascinated by the latest strategy of the brand to place itself in the market as a more wholesome option for ‘fast food’. A sponsor for this year’s Olympic Games, McDonald’s aims to promote balanced options for its ‘Happy Meals’, including fruit, vegetable and dairy choices.

The last few years has seen McDonald’s image suffer as a result of unfavourable publicity and claims that alerted the public to its food being a leading cause of obesity. McDonald’s has since been working to rebrand itself as more health conscious by offering more healthy food options.

The two colours we associate with the global brand are red and yellow.  The combination of red (energy, speed, activity) and yellow (emotions, confidence) directly communicates to us that in McDonald’s restaurants we can be instantly satiated; get, eat and go. So far, so good.

Except…that it might not have escaped your notice but McDonald’s have also been busy updating their restaurants and have been changing the familiar red shop fronts to a very dark green. Presumably the thinking behind McDonald’s decision to get (heavy handed) with the green in their restaurant design is to influence our perception of the restaurant as offering wholesome food?

We associate particular variations of green with balance and health. However, my thoughts are that the colour green used for the new shop fronts is far too dark and heavy, and there’s far too much of it. The colour is not attractive enough to draw us in, as like a dark green sludgy pool, it looks entirely unappealing.  The McDonald’s yellow ‘M’ logo along with ‘McDonalds’ name in white (hygiene, purity) now look entirely incongruous.

Who are McDonald’s now? What do they want to be known as – a fast food restaurant offering healthier alternatives or a wholefood restaurant? Interestingly, the food promotions page on the website http://www.mcdonalds.co.uk/ukhome/promotions.html show a palette of colours that work far better to convey a more wholesome message, and has fresher appeal whilst still keeping in the ‘spirit’ of the brand. Using some of these colours in the design of the shop fronts would have updated it successfully whilst still working with the red and yellow logo.  The ‘healthier’ values of the brand would have been maintained whilst keeping visual integrity.

By sacrificing the well-recognised  red and yellow shop fronts, will McDonald’s be in danger of losing the public perception of the brand as a bright, lively place to get fast food?  Instead, increasingly unrecognisable, will it eventually become overlooked on the high street altogether?

What is colour? Why does it have an effect on us and how can we use it to influence the world around us?

Exploring Colour in Your World – A one day introductory workshop in to colour psychology with Bernay Laity Saturday July 21st 2012  Click here for more information and to book

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Reddy for Bed?

Posted in Branding, colour, colour - psychology, colour education, colour training, Graphic design, Interior design, Red on April 30th, 2012 by Bernay

Eyebrow raising research recently published in the Journal of Social Psychology confirms how the colour of clothing can have a powerful influence on how men perceive the opposite sex.

A survey of 120 male students conducted by researchers at the University of South Brittany, were asked to look at  images of a woman wearing a series of  red, blue, green and white tops. The woman was perceived to be the most attractive when wearing the red top. Furthermore, most thought that a woman wearing red was more likely to agree to sex.

Interestingly similar findings were reported from colour research by the University of Rochester (2010) which found that women were more likely to be sexually attracted to men wearing red. (See article Red Alert!)

While wearing blue will very likely communicate that you are trustworthy, green that you are even-tempered or ‘chilled,’ and white communicates a kind of ‘hands off’ purity (!); there is no doubt that any person, male or female is certainly likely to be noticed wearing red. Its physical effect is to increase stamina and energy, our ‘drive’ and motivation. Therefore any hopeful males (and females) will be subconsciously switched on to this strong colour signal that arouses interest and……yes, possibly passion!

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