Colours count

Monday, 14 September, 2009

If the label and/or packaging does not win the consumer over in the blink of an eye, the product stays on the shelf, as people make instant decisions. The trick is to convey information quickly, both through the printed word and in a more subtle way based on feelings, using colours.

Colour is used in a targeted way as an information carrier in label and packaging design. It should transport a message to the recipient in the communication process, making it come alive and linking it to a pleasant emotion. For example, shades of green and blue combined with grey or black lend themselves well to communicating reliability and safety. By contrast, strong shades of red and yellow grab people’s attention. White stands for freshness, plus it makes labels and packaging look bigger or more voluminous.

There are also factors which are not connected to the selected shade but which transmit additional messages; for example, bright colours are light and friendly, while dark colours are gloomy; clean, saturated colours have a dominant effect and desaturated colours give a subdued effect; delicate colours convey the impression of sensitivity; warm colours create closeness; cold colours create distance; single colours create order and clarity; and many colours together are confusing.

In addition, the colour must suit the target group. The colours that appeal to young skaters are different to the ones that will win over wellness-oriented ‘best agers’. It is therefore important that both the colours and the message are coherent to the recipient and suit the brand and its manufacturer, or the product will not appear credible, giving rise to mistrust. And then that product will definitely stay on the shelf. For this reason, before every creative decision, all those involved should at all costs recall the two golden rules of packaging design, which are: less is more, and as much as possible usually helps very little.

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