Let’s play a game! Think of the color GREEN. What feelings does this color evoke within you? What attributes do you associate with this color? Looking around the room you’re in now, where do you find the color green? (Okay, I know this is starting to sound like an episode of Sesame Street…but bear with me) 🙂
By asking these questions, your brain starts to categorize and draw up areas that green shows up in your awareness. It’s associated with the feeling of growth, going and growing, plants and energy, sustainable products, and of course, money. That’s a pretty powerful call-up, isn’t it? Just mention or see a color and your thoughts react accordingly.
Colors have a psychology embedded within them. Our brains respond to colors without us noticing. Leveraging this neat little trick is a core element of marketing – especially marketing within the food and beverage industry. You may recall in a previous article on the subject, I mentioned that we eat with our eyes by taking in emotional, cultural and symbolic cues simply when looking at something. Our brain fills in the details based on previously learned context, which then elicits a reaction. It may be subtle, but it’s there.
Okay, now let’s put this psychology into context. You’re in the design phase of your new product’s packaging. You and your marketing team have decided that the target audience for this product are 20-something adults that love to eat healthy, but don’t want to eat anything boring. Your packaging design needs to evoke feelings of hunger, but also something fun, creative, and sustainability. Yellow is associated with feelings of hunger/appetite, orange is fun and exciting, and red brings in a passion-based emotional connection (and can stimulate taste buds… for real). Don’t forget though, in this example, we also need to create that healthy vibe too… so in comes green and a variation of earthy and natural elements.
There are also some colors that discourage feelings of hunger and desire. Blue for example. When was the last time you ate something bright blue? Exactly. It’s not common associated with food. Purple may also have a similar effect on our brains because of its proximity to blue on the color wheel. Black is generally tied to feelings of sophistication and elegance, but in terms of food and consumption, it is used often within luxury products such as chocolate.
Getting the right balance of color and psychology can be tricky, and like I’ve said before, colors don’t work alone. It’s a blend of font, color, content, context and imagery that make achieve that “AHA” moment in package design. Keep in mind, too, that choosing the wrong colors can break the sale before the customer even realizes why they’re not considering your product. Subtle and subliminal, color selection can disqualify your product before the consumer has even given it a chance. So choose well, and cook up something scrumptious for your customers by visually telling them all about your product before you say a word.