Colours are considered the ultimate storytelling tool because even before anything happens, they set the mood for whatever it is to come. They propel and convey ideas and emotions and are well known to have a psychological effect upon people, with each colour having its own unique effect.
THE WARM ONES: Red, Orange And Yellow
These toasty colours are categorized as warm because as the name says, they remind us of warm things like sunlight or fire. Warm colours are associated with heightened emotions and passion. They are also associated with joy and playfulness, as well as being considered stimulating. Let’s have a closer look at how they affect us, and why.
STORYTELLING WITH RED:
Let’s start with the most attention-grabbing colour of them all: red. The reasons for this colour being so impactful may be evolutionary: red is the colour of blood, it evokes violence and danger. For the very same evolutionary reason, amazingly red also evokes life in its primal form: lust, passion and love are almost always represented in this hue. This colour is a true drama queen: it has the power to make anything stand out, and that’s why is one of the most used colours in commercials, where attracting the audience’s attention quickly is crucial.
1) SETTING A MOOD: ‘THE SHINING’:
A reminder of violence and danger, red is one of the most used colours in horror films. The bright red bathroom in ‘The Shining’ is a masterful example of that, as well as the ominous words Red Rum (murder in reverse) we see throughout the movie. Genius.
2) HIGHLIGHTING AN IMPORTANT FEATURE: IKEA’S RED LAMP
In the 2002 ‘Lamp’ advert of Ikea (directed by Spike Jonze), the red is used to both attract our attention and stir our warm feelings towards it when it’s juxtaposed against a cold environment.
3) REVEALING CHARACTERS: BABY DRIVER
Bats is very clearly the most violent character of all and, for that reason, he is dressed in red throughout the entirety of the film. A more interesting character is Buddy: he starts as being a cool guy, dressed in cool hues. But as the story evolves and anger takes over him, he becomes enveloped in red lights and red hues.
4) A STATE OF MIND: ‘AMERICAN BEAUTY’
Sam Mendes made full use of this colour in American Beauty: warmth, danger, love, sex, death, rage, lust, and beauty. Red is the colour used for the women’s clothing, the cars, the doors and also (spoiler alert!) it is the colour of Lester’s blood splattered across the white table.
5) GETTING NOTICED, IN A LEGENDARY WAY: COCA-COLA
The Coca-Cola red is iconic. We could write a book about Coca-Cola marketing successes, but let us just tell you this: we can thank Coca-Cola for Santa as we know it. Originally dressed in green or brown, once Coca-Cola featured him dressed in red in their advertising, the red Santa stuck. Forever.
STORYTELLING WITH ORANGE:
This colour radiates warmth and happiness. It’s associated with amusement, the unconventional, extroverts, warmth, fire, energy, activity, danger, taste and aroma. It’s not a coincidence that orange is the colour representing Buddhism, where it symbolizes illumination, the highest state of perfection. Studies show that the orange colour can cause actual physical effects such as increased hunger, heightened sense of activity, increased socialization, and stimulated mental activity. How cool is that? Guess what it can do for your marketing campaign! Let’s see it in action:
1) CHEAP AND CHEERFUL: EASYJET
It’s not a surprise that a low-cost airline chooses a bright, lively orange as their theme colour. It plays into the positive feeling of abundance: you can afford to fly away more often. It also communicates friendliness, helpfulness and being easy going.
2) BRING ON THE ENERGY: TNT
It’s all about energy and happiness for TNT: they have understood how to be unconventional in the best possible way.
3) HEAT AND DANGER: MAD MAX
It’s a trend for movies today to sport a palette of orange and teals (stay tuned for a feature on this topic), but here in Mad Max, the orange has been blown at its full potential, conveying the heat of the desert, the heightened activity occurring on screen as well as danger.
4) HAPPINESS: MEET RUFUS THE CORGI, MASCOTTE OF AMAZON
Even a die-hard cat person wouldn’t resist the happy vibes and charms of Rufus the Corgi! With this mascotte, Amazon conveyed trust and loyalty (the dog) but by using the colour orange, it added an element of happiness (the feeling you get when you receive your Amazon parcel) and dynamism (because obviously, you want that parcel FAST). Perfect.
5) WARM & FUZZY: COCO
Coco is set in the Land of the Dead, however, instead of being creepy, it looks even livelier than our world. Surprised? Not really: warmth and happiness are brought forward by the clever use of the Mexican marigold orange flower.
STORYTELLING WITH YELLOW:
The most noticeable colour by the human eyes, it’s also the brightest. Like the orange, it conveys happiness, but also energy and dynamism. However, it’s also the most bipolar colour: on one side, it’s very warm, playful, optimistic and happy. On the other side, it can also induce a state of anxiety, agitation and alert. It’s definitely a very powerful colour that needs to be treated with expertise.
1) POSITIVELY OPTIMISTIC: LA LA LAND
La-la-land was released in miserable January, and the costume designer Mary Zophres has intentionally utilised the positive power of this hue to make viewers feel great about the lead character Mia Dolan on screen, offering a joyful antidote to the post-Christmas blues.
2) HUNGRY? MCDONALD
The brain processes colour before it processes words or shapes, so the fast-food chain chose these two colours for their logo and brand. Red and yellow makes you hungry, encouraging you to want to buy the product they sell, while also making you feel happy.
3) FUNNY AND LIVELY: MINIONS
Yellow is the happiest colour, which suits the banter-loving, fast-moving Minions. It’s not a coincidence that when the minions turn evil after ingesting the potion in the movie they turn purple, which is on the opposite of yellow on the colour spectrum.
4) NOTICEABLE: POST IT NOTES
Colour in marketing is not always a science: as a matter of fact, sometimes it’s just bare luck, as it was for Post It notes. Its now iconic Canary Yellow colour was chosen by coincidence — a lab next door only had scrap yellow paper on hand, and they used it. And it worked! It is, after all, the most visible colour in the daylight, very useful for notes and reminders!
5) OBSESSIVE DICK TRACY
Yellow is the colour of caution, it brings power, energy and anxiety. Dick Tracy wears a bright yellow coat and hat, the screen becomes energised whenever Tracy enters. Because the yellow usage here is brash and daring, it represents obsession (according to scientists in fact, yellow is the colour a person sees first and forgets the least). Tracy is the obsessive detective caught up in his case.
Amazing, right? If you want to know which colour to use to improve your marketing campaign, send us a message, we look forward to hearing from you!
Stay tuned for the next post: The Cool Ones!