The Power of Colour

In the mid seventies snooker emerged from the smoky rooms of middle-aged men in three-piece-suits to make a big splash on prime time TV.

The arrival of colour TV in Australia meant program makers were looking for something that illustrated the power of the new medium and a program called “Pot Black” with those coloured balls was a perfect opportunity.  Nowadays it seems hard to believe that TV programs were only in black and white. 

While we might take it for granted, I’ve learned to never discount the power of colour in communication and branding.  As a communicator you might think I am driven by words and to a large extent that is true. But human beings are emotional creatures and we respond powerfully to stimuli from the eye – in the same way we have an industry built around the intoxicating power of smell and music is said to calm the savage beast.

Think about the distinctive purple wrapping on Cadbury chocolate and the Coca Cola red. More than that, think about traffic lights – imagine the chaos if drivers couldn’t distinguish green from red!

A few years ago one of my clients noticed it was losing its edge up against competitors and we identified that one of the contributing factors was losing the power of identity.  The agency had been playing around with different colour combinations to identify specific product types.  Nothing wrong with that but it highlights one of the critical factors in great branding – using a distinct colour that consumers can associate with you and your brand in a nanosecond.  I once met a man whose job had been to travel the world making sure that the Coca Cola red was consistently produced in all the company’s marketing and promotion.  Sounds a little extreme but not when you think about the power of that red Coke logo – transcending boundaries of language and culture across the globe.

In centuries past, kings would lead their armies into battle flying their distinctive colours.  Men were prepared to die for the colours on their banner and what it represented to them.  It just goes to show that you should never underestimate the power of colour.