Six Tips for Putting Color to Work in Your Communications

Color is one of the most powerful tools a communicator has to work with. Here are six insights about color that can help your communications be noticed and drive the results you want.

Red + yellow = hungry for fries

There’s a reason the logos of many fast-food companies, including McDonald’s, Burger King, and In-N-Out Burger, are red and yellow: it’s because red has been found to stimulate hunger and yellow evokes happiness. It’s proven to be a winning formula. Want people to want something? Try combining red and yellow and watch what happens!

The power of the “isolation effect”

Ever notice how in marketing emails, the color of the button or text the marketer wants you to click on to make a purchase is different than the rest of the email? Savvy marketers understand that an item that stands out (such as one surrounded by a different color) is more likely to be recognized and remembered – a phenomenon known as the “isolation effect.” The color doesn’t matter – what matters, and what makes the isolation effect work — is simply the difference. You don’t have to be a marketer to make the isolation effect work for you – give it a try!

Use color to make even internal messages POP

Research has found that 60-percent of the time, a message’s “attractiveness” to recipients is determined by its color. That’s clearly an important finding for brand managers, but it’s also something anyone responsible for communicating internally should understand – and capitalize on. Your corporate standards probably include both a primary and secondary colors – and it’s likely you use that primary color most of the time. How about putting a lesser-used secondary color to work to add emphasis and surprise your readers?

Want to attract a following? Use blue

If you like the color blue, you are far from alone. The results of several international studies have shown that blue wins the “favorite color” honor by a wide margin (purple comes in a distant second). Blue is preferred by both men and women, although more strongly by men. The color is associated with serenity, intelligence and confidence, among other attributes. Communicators who want to use color to attract a wide audience probably probably can’t go wrong with blue.

This is the color that signifies you “made it”

What do Chanel, Armani and Yves Saint Laurent have in common? If you answered that they are all high-end fashion brands, you are absolutely correct. And each company also has a black logo. Which is logical, because black is associated with elegance, taste, superiority and power. (See also: limousines and tuxedos). If you want to show the world how tasteful you are, go with black.

Pink: not just for girls

Pink has gained a reputation as an extremely calming color. So much so, in fact, that the interiors of some prisons have been painted pink to keep the inmates from getting restless. Pink is a feminine color, right? Not so fast! That’s certainly true in western cultures, but in Japan pink is associated with masculinity. That leads to an important point – when it comes to assigning meaning to color, it’s important to know your audience!

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