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TRUE COLOURS: the power of colour in brands and branding

   

ALAN GUNNING BA (Hons) MARKETING APRIL 2013


Acknowledgments I would like to thank my supervisor David Comerford for advice, comments and positivity. Thanks Also to my family for their support and patience with me over the past few years of study, especially on the run up to deadlines.


Abstract This dissertation aims to explore the use of colour in brands and branding. It will seek to indentify what factors can affect how the consumer associates human attributes to a brand, and if this can be related to colour. It will look at the current and relevant literature, which is in both psychology and marketing academic domains in order to indentify gaps, opportunities and methodology and means of testing, for example Aaker’s brand personality dimensions. The dissertation will explore and relate the literature through conducting its own colour and brand questionnaire and experiments in order to identify any links and support previous research through the use of several hypotheses. The experiments will be graphically focused in order to make it easy for the consumer to make split decisions. The final outcome aims to provide designers with a visual reference guide. This will be in the form of a colour tool, based on the results from the experiments, in order to allow designers to make informed choices when embarking on branding and other design projects.


Contents

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1 INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................. 1   1.1   Background and Aims......................................................................................................... 2   1.2   Purpose of the Research .................................................................................................... 3   1.3   Investigation ........................................................................................................................ 3   1.4   Significance of the Study..................................................................................................... 4   2   LITERATURE REVIEW ......................................................................................................... 6   2.1   Colours as Emotions ........................................................................................................... 6   2.1.1   Associative Learning ................................................................................................ 7   2.2   Colour in Marketing ............................................................................................................ 8   2.2.1   Colour in Marketing.................................................................................................. 8   2.2.2   Differentiation........................................................................................................... 9   2.2.3   Brand Recognition .................................................................................................... 9   2.2.4   Colour as Atmospherics ......................................................................................... 10   2.2.5   Online Environments .............................................................................................. 11   2.3   Brand Personality ............................................................................................................. 13   2.3.1   Anthropomorphism ................................................................................................ 14   2.3.2   Gender Colours ...................................................................................................... 15   2.1   Characteristics of a Logo .................................................................................................. 15   2.2   Colours in Packaging ........................................................................................................ 17   3   METHODOLOGY................................................................................................................. 19   3.1   Research methods ............................................................................................................ 19   3.2   The ACME Logo ................................................................................................................. 19   3.3   Sampling ........................................................................................................................... 21   3.4   Questionnaire .................................................................................................................... 21   3.5   The Colour Experiments ................................................................................................... 22   3.5.1   Study 1 – Colours linked to human emotions ........................................................ 22   3.5.2   Study 2 – Economy of Colours................................................................................ 23   3.5.3   Study 3 – Colour to Trust........................................................................................ 23   3.5.4   Study 4 – Colour Differentiation ............................................................................. 24   3.5.5   Study 5 – Masculine and Feminine Colours........................................................... 26   3.6   Limitations of the research method ................................................................................. 27   4   ANALYSIS ......................................................................................................................... 28   4.1   Study 1 (Favourite Colours) Analysis ................................................................................ 28   4.2   Study 1 (Brand Personality) Analysis................................................................................ 29   4.2.1   Sincerity .................................................................................................................. 30   4.2.2   Excitement.............................................................................................................. 30   4.2.3   Competence............................................................................................................ 31   4.2.4   Sophistication ......................................................................................................... 31   4.2.5   Ruggedness ............................................................................................................ 31   4.2.6   Masculine / Feminine ............................................................................................. 31   4.2.7   Low Cost ................................................................................................................. 32   4.3   Study 2 (Economy of Colours) Analysis ............................................................................ 33   4.4   Study 3 (Trust) Analysis .................................................................................................... 34   4.5   Study 4 (Differentiation) Analysis...................................................................................... 35   4.5.1   ACME Cola .............................................................................................................. 35   4.5.2   ACME Water............................................................................................................ 35   4.6   Study 5 (Gender) Analysis ................................................................................................. 36   4.6.1   ACME Washing Detergent ...................................................................................... 36   4.6.2   ACME Shower Gel................................................................................................... 37   4.7   Order Effect Analysis ........................................................................................................ 37   5   CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ...................................................................... 39   5.1   Conclusion......................................................................................................................... 39   5.1.1   What can be learned from the brand personality results in Study 1?................... 39   5.1.2   Is there a link between colour preference and choice of product?....................... 39  

TRUE COLOURS: the power of colour in brands and branding


5.1.3 What can be learned from Studies 2 – 5? .............................................................. 39   5.1.4   Was there a difference between the demographics? ............................................ 41   5.1.5   Can this be turned into a tool for graphic designers? ........................................... 42   5.2   Limitations ........................................................................................................................ 42   5.3   Recommendations and future research........................................................................... 44   5.4   Implications of Research .................................................................................................. 44   5.4.1   The Colour Brand Personality Model..................................................................... 46   5.4.2   Final thought .......................................................................................................... 46   6   REFERENCES ................................................................................................................... 48   Appendix I.   QUESTIONNAIRE 1......................................................................................... 50   Appendix II.   QUESTIONNAIRE 2......................................................................................... 49   Appendix III.   THE GRAPHICS .............................................................................................. 50   Appendix IV.   BRAND PERSONALITY FIGURES ................................................................... 55   Appendix V.   STUDY 2 RESULTS ......................................................................................... 56  

TRUE COLOURS: the power of colour in brands and branding


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INTRODUCTION

INTRODUCTION My red is so confident he flashes trophies of war and ribbons of euphoria. Orange is young, full of daring but very unsteady for the first go round.

My yellow in this case is no so mellow. In fact I'm trying to say it's frightened like me.

And all of these emotions of mine keep holding me from giving my life to a rainbow like you. Jimi Hendrix, Bold as Love (1968)

The lyrics above by Jimi Hendrix associate colours with human emotions, behaviours and feelings, from the confidence and war-like power of red to daring orange with youthful enthusiasm. Hendrix also visualised sounds as colours, which he linked to human emotions and inspired what he played; he tried to recreate the colours in his head through sound. Colours are all around us in life and in nature and are intrinsically linked to humans; they can affect moods and behaviours, for example the happy, smiling sunshine that a child draws in yellow or when somebody feeling melancholy is said to have the ‘blues’. For example, the use of red as a colour to alert people to danger, be it a stop sign, traffic light or a poisonous insect, Mother Nature’s way of warning its consumer.

Colours also play an important role in

setting the scene in theatre and film production, which can similarly be transferred to television and print advertising. Therefore, as per atmospherics setting in movies, colours can also affect a consumer into feeling or thinking differently when they are exposed to certain hues. The aim of this research is therefore to investigate the power of colour in brands and branding and whether it can steer consumers towards, or away, from making a brand choice. The wider aim of the research will be to provide marketers with a point of reference when advising companies with regards to colour choice of their branding collateral, helping them avoid any potential consequences of damaging their brand through incongruent choices.

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INTRODUCTION

Background and Aims

1.1

People often judge books by their covers. The same can be said about a company’s branding choices, be it the logo design, name, packaging or colours used. A company’s branding is normally the first contact with the consumer and first impressions are most often the ones that stick with you. As the human eye is instinctively attracted to colour, it could be argued that the colour is the main element of how your brand is first perceived. The research will examine to what extent colour has an effect on brand perception and the how it affects product choice.

It will also look at conditioned colour relationships, metaphoric or

anthropomorphic relationships of colour, for example, green with envy and happy yellow, gendered concepts of masculine and feminine colours and the relationship these factors have on the consumer’s purchase choice. The idea for this research stemmed from advice the author received from in the early years of a graphic design job. The advice was that when supplying corporate identity designs to a customer, to initially proof it in black and white so as to remove any bias the customer might have towards a colour scheme therefore resulting in a logo being rejected simply due to the colours used. Furthermore, where colour schemes are left up to the designer to choose, in most cases there was no real thought process behind which colours suit the product association or sector to which the company operates in and are often chosen simply because they look nice. Therefore, this research intends to provide graphic designers and marketers with further knowledge to make a more informed choice when embarking on branding and corporate identity projects. The research will aim to answer the following questions:

Is there correlation between a brand’s colour and the personality it conveys?

Do consumers’ colour preferences influence which brands they choose?

Do gender related colours on packaging influence consumers and does it affect which brands they choose?

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INTRODUCTION

Purpose of the Research

1.2

With the above in mind, the main reason behind this research is to ascertain whether the consumer holds colour related preferences towards new brands based on colour likes and dislikes. It will also look to establish if they associate human-like characteristics to these brands based simply on their choice of colour. This initial research on brand personality colours will provide the data for the next round of visual studies that will investigate:

Trust and whether colours dictate product choice in categories such as banking;

Budget/economy colours and whether low cost can be attributed to colour and therefore influence the consumer;

Whether a colour differentiation between a brand and its sector rivals can influence the user in their choice of product; and

1.3

Gender related colours and the impact it has on male and female consumers.

Investigation

The first part of this research will review the relevant literature in the area of colour, relating to human emotions and other colour associations that are intrinsically learned. There is a vast amount of literature that relates to branding, however, literature relating to the relationship between the personality of a brand and its logo, colour and packaging is somewhat lacking. It is important therefore to understand how colour can impact upon a brand’s personality as the logo or packaging is often the first point of contact between a consumer and a brand, and is essential therefore for successful relationship building between the brand and the consumer. An exploration of colour and brand associations will be done in relation to colour in a brand’s logo in relation to brand personality, which will go on to form the basis of our further studies.

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INTRODUCTION

Grossman and Wisenblit’s (1999) research into associated learning theory will help to identify how consumers are programmed to identify colours to certain feelings and moods and will help identify how this thinking can apply to logos and branding (Grossman, Wisenblit 1999). Research into anthropomorphism, the way in which people identify non-living objects as having human characteristics will help identify how consumers can attach human attributes and personalities to brands and branding (Aaker 1997, Fournier 1998, Aggarwal, McGill 2007). Most of the early literature on colour and behaviour is from psychology journals.

This

research therefore hopes to help fill the gap that currently exists between how colours can affect a brand’s perception in the marketplace.

1.4

Significance of the Study

There is a limited amount of research of the perception by consumers of brands based simply on the use of colour in a corporate identity. For example, Hynes (2009) looked at colour in relation to corporate identify and found associations in this regard, although it failed to investigate brand personality as part of the analysis.

Therefore, a better understanding of

colours and how they affect the consumer will help designers and marketers in choosing colours that impact positively on the brand in their specific market. Designers and marketers spend a lot of time creating logos and branding and are either dictated the colours by the client or are left to decide for themselves. An experienced graphic designer will have an idea of what colours work best for certain market sectors, but in some cases the colours will simply be down to the designer’s own preference. Colours can also aid brand recall and recognition, for example, red and yellow together can make you think of McDonalds, black with Guinness and purple is heavily associated with Cadbury’s (Bottomley, Doyle 2006). Colours are seen to be the heart and sole of a brand that many companies aim to protect against competitors. For example, Cadbury successfully prevented Nestlé from using its “famous colour purple” after the Court ruled in favour of

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INTRODUCTION

Cadbury when they agreed to trademark their specific shade of Pantone purple (Abbott 2012). This demonstrates the importance of colours in the eyes of brand owners and shows that other brands attempt to capture slices of a leading brand’s market share by sharing its use of colour. In Cadbury’s case a colour that it had built its association with for nearly 100 years.

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LITERATURE REVIEW

2

LITERATURE REVIEW

This section will review the relevant literature that surrounds colours, human emotions and its use in marketing.

2.1

Colours as Emotions

Wexner (1954) was one of the first to associate colours with human emotions and in his study on hues relating to moods. In this research, he found red to be associated with ‘excitingstimulating’, blue with ‘secure-comfortable’, orange with ‘distressed-disturbed-upset’, blue again with ‘tender-soothing’, purple with ‘dignified-stately’, yellow with ‘cheerful-jovialjoyful’, and black with ‘powerful-strong-masterful’ (Wexner 1954). The study also showed that there was no noticeable difference between answers of male and female respondents. The basis of Wexner’s study will help influence the questionnaire in the subsequent chapters. Moller et al. (2009) say that red is used to associated negativity in day to day life from the red danger signs, stop traffic light and phrases such as “caught red handed” or “in the red” when you have negative amount of credit in your account. Red can simulate anger or aggression (Bagchi, Cheema 2013) and the phrase “seeing red” is a direct example of colours used to convey emotions (Moller, Elliot et al. 2009). Moller et al. (2009) go on to suggest that green, in contrast to red, promotes positivity and success, the difference may be related to the associative learning of the traffic light; red to stop (negative) or green to go (positive). Red is often used in food retailing as it is said to evoke feelings of appetite and hunger (Hynes 2009) and may be the reason that it is used in many fast food colour schemes, for example, McDonalds, KFC and Pizza Hut.

Red conjures feelings of excitement, whereas yellow

portrays happiness and cheerfulness (Clarke, Costall 2008). Green also has associations with the environment, and can be used in order to influence the consumer to show that the company is eco friendly, for example BP’s colours use green and yellow in order to show that they are committed to sustainability and renewable energy sources.

TRUE COLOURS: the power of colour in brands and branding

They also note

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LITERATURE REVIEW

however, that some negative associations with green through “green with envy” for example (Moller, Elliot et al. 2009). Colour preference is difficult to explain and does not appear to correlate to moods. Blue, for example is most often associated with sadness, but is one of the most preferred colours, whereas yellow, most associated with cheerfulness, is one of the least preferred colours (Ou, Luo et al. 2004, Clarke, Costall 2008). Labrecque & Milne (2012) found it to be consistent across the studies that people link the same emotions to colours, for example, cheerfulness and happiness is often associated with yellow (Labrecque, Milne 2012). Culturally, colour meanings can be extremely different from Eastern to Western cultures and there are many potential pitfalls that can be made by simply using a colour. According to Aslam (2006), the associations attached to red can vary from culture to culture, being linked contradictorily to love, lust, fear, anger, jealousy, happiness, luck and adventure. White has meanings of death across Asia whilst Western cultures associate with purity, life and happiness (Aslam, M.M. ( 1,2 ) 2006). Previous research by D’Andrade & Egan (1974) found colour emotion relationships to be consistent across a range of cultures (D'Andrade, Egan 1974). Moreover, in recent years, as global brands cross from east to west and now vice versa, any cultural barriers that may have existed are gradually becoming smaller. 2.1.1

Associative Learning

Associative learning is when colour preferences are determined through associations they have made through experiences associated with that colour and which the consumer can then extend to brands and product choices (Grossman, Wisenblit 1999).

Therefore positive

experience with colours can influence a person’s colour preference and this can go on to provoke similar feelings towards a brand. A study by Palmer & Schloss (2010) found a correlation that people would favour colours when there was positive association of that colour with the colour of the object it was being paired with (Palmer, Schloss 2010). Therefore, it may be that colours that promote positive feelings may enhance a brand’s likeability, however, this can be subjective where you can attract one person but not another.

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LITERATURE REVIEW

2.2

Colour in Marketing

2.2.1

Colour in Marketing

One of the earliest instances of colour in marketing was by Henry Ford who famously said that a customer could buy a Ford Model T in any colour they wanted “as long as it’s black” (Heath 1997). Rival car brand General Motors went on to capture some of Ford’s share of the market by offering the consumer a choice of colour, which demonstrates an early identification that the consumer is attracted to colour. A more recent example of this is in 1998 when Apple Macintosh launched their new iMac. The personal computer market was a colourless industry with dark grey or beiges being the norm; the iMac was offered in a choice of five ‘neon’ colours and helped boost Apple’s appeal (Garber, Burke et al. 2000) and colours in personal computers is now the norm.

Apple repeated this by refreshing the white iPod

design by offering it out in several bright colour hues, which ran alongside their colourful dancing silhouette adverts of the 2000s, again reinventing the colour of the category in which the silvers and greys of walkmans and portable compact disc players was the norm. In advertising, Lohse & Rosen (2001) found that colour attracts the attention of the reader as it leads the eye to certain points within the advertisement (Lohse, Rosen 2001). It is used to attract the attention of the consumer, to differentiate a brand from its competitor, and to provide visual clues or hints what the product is or belongs to (Gorn, Chattopadhyay et al. 1997, Kotler 1973). Throughout history colours have strong ties with religious, cultural and political associations, from the scarlet red robes of catholic cardinals, the purple robes of royalty and colours of political parties.

Also, in nature, flowers use colours to attract insects; the more colourful

they are, the more insects they attract; therefore, this has parallels to marketing where the flowers use colour to attract its consumers, the insects. Leatrice Eiseman of the Pantone Color Institute commented that:

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LITERATURE REVIEW

“When humans see red, primordial memory kicks in. The bright scarlet of glistening blood, the red of fire, evoke images of heat and danger and send instant messages to the brain. When our ancestors saw red, they knew it was time to fight or flee. Red causes a physiological reaction. When we see red, we must pay attention" (Heath 1997). With this in mind, will a brand be less liked if predominantly uses red? Moreover, will this warn the consumer away from choosing a brand based on a simple negative associated colour? 2.2.2

Differentiation

“One way to make yourself

using colour

stand out from the crowd

is by

in ways nobody else thought of”

Josef Albers (Stone 2008) Colour plays an important roll in differentiating one product form another, a simple differentiation of colour from a competitor may be all that is needed to stand out from the crowd. When a customer approaches the in store display or shelf, “up to 60 percent of the first impression” is directed from colour that the eye takes in (Heath 1997). Therefore, it could be argued that brighter, bold colours are best for product designs in order to attract the consumer’s eye. With regards to differentiation, Bottomley & Doyle (2006) found that more than 50% of US supermarket own brands borrowed from market leader brands in terms of colour, size and shape which can be seen as an attempt to reassure the consumer to know what to expect from a new brand or product (Bottomley, Doyle 2006). The studies in the Section 3 will explore colour differentiation to determine what, if any, influence it has over the consumer. 2.2.3

Brand Recognition

Colours can also be key for brand recognition, for example red and yellow signal McDonalds, Coca-Cola with red, Pepsi with blue, Cadbury with purple or Heineken with green (Bottomley,

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LITERATURE REVIEW

Doyle 2006, Lee, Rao 2010, Singh 2006). An example of how powerful this is can be seen in many pre-school children who can recognise the McDonalds brand simply through their use of their trademarked ‘golden arches’ which dominate the skyline of many cities and towns. Children are also heavily targeted by brands from an early age through the advertising of products on children’s television. To attract a child’s attention for the duration of the advert the marketer mainly relies on strong sound and music; however, this is also reinforced through bright colours of the brands. In a similar way to brands existing in the consumer’s mind (de Chernatony, Riley 1998), colours exist and are interpreted differently in people’s minds. Colour is subjective, if you say ‘red’ to a room full 50 people, there will be 50 different shades in each person’s mind (Stone 2008). Colours can play a large part in how the consumer remembers a logo or brand; you only have to say the word McDonalds and the image in most minds will be the red and yellow or the ‘golden arches’. 2.2.4

Colour as Atmospherics

The majority of research relating to colour in marketing has been in the area of colour in retail environments. There have been several studies relating to retail atmospherics in which it is noted that colour acts as an attraction to draw people into the store. One example is (Bellizzi, Crowley et al. 1983) who examined the psychological effects of colour relating to store design. Further studies (Babin, Hardesty et al. 2003) researched how colour used in shops can influence customer choices. A study by (Bellizzi, Hite 1992) into colour related store atmospherics found that people preferred blue over warmer coloured retailing environments; as blue was found to be more relaxing, this extends how long customers browsed and therefore leads to greater purchase intention. Lee and Roa (2010) also found blue to have a calming influence and Babin et al. (2003) also found this to be the case (Babin, Hardesty et al. 2003). With this in mind, Lee and Rao’s (2010) study also revealed that warmer colours such as reds can have the opposite effect by boosting excitement levels which leads to increased blood pressure, more frequent

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LITERATURE REVIEW

eye blinks and increased hand trembles (Lee, Rao 2010). Bellizzi & Hite (1992) go on to argue that red has a negative affect on consumers in shopping environments. They state due to people becoming over stimulated by the red or warm atmospherics, the shoppers are impaired from making purchase decisions (Bellizzi, Hite 1992). Many sale stickers make use of red as an attention grabber, to cause excitement and alert the user into making purchase, therefore while red is a good colour for point of sale and product alerts, is may not be the most sensible choice for wider application. There is therefore a consensus of opinion in the current literature in regard to cool colour and warm colours in terms of the feelings and emotions that the consumer experiences. 2.2.5

Online Environments

More recently studies have explored colour relating to online behaviour. In a study by Gorn et al. (2004), they found that colours can influence Internet user’s perception of how long a website takes to load. As with the studies on retail store design, Gorn et al. (2004) found that when a site used cool colours it increases the mood of relaxation in the user, which in turn reduces their estimates of load time whereas warmer colours have the opposing effect increasing the perception of wait time (Gorn, Chattopadhyay et al. 2004). Bagchi & Cheema (2013) found that red and blue also influenced bidders on auction site, eBay. By adding red to the header of the auction this encouraged an aggressive mood in the bidder, which in turn, produced aggressive bidding in an attempt to win over rival bidder (Bagchi, Cheema 2013). Mehta & Zhu (2009) investigated how colours affect the way in which users perform different tasks and found that red helps users who perform detail-oriented tasks whereas blue is better for creative ones. Red is a colour most associated with danger or errors, for example the stop signs, traffic lights and even the red pen that circles school mistakes, whereas, blue is most associated with calm and relaxation, for example the blue sky or blue sea water (Mehta, (Juliet) Zhu 2009).

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LITERATURE REVIEW

When used in atmospherics of shop design, colour can be used to grab attention and entice people into the store (Bellizzi, Crowley et al. 1983). Warm colours can be associated with feelings of elation and excitement (Bellizzi, Hite 1992). Cool colours are more effective in creating relaxing moods and help enhance the user’s experience (Babin, Hardesty et al. 2003). In the case of company uniforms, colour can help distinguish workers from competitors and therefore become part of the brand’s visual equity and increase the brand’s image and recognition (Lightfoot, Gerstman 1998). Gorn et al. (1997) found that colours in branding were more often than not chosen from the designer’s own feeling, instincts or experience. Moreover, they interviewed twelve creative directors, of which only one had any knowledge or experience of colour theory. Colour theory is a set of principles that can aid the designer in making harmonic colour choices and “aesthetically pleasing colour relationships” (Stone 2008 pg. 20).

Corporations know about

the importance of colour in branding and often spend vast amounts of time and money creating and developing research into colour strategies specific to their brand. Most of this research however, remains classified due to concerns of competitors gaining this knowledge (Bellizzi, Crowley et al. 1983). Therefore, this research will aim to help discover current opinions of colours and how they impact upon branding which can be used as a tool by graphic designers and marketers. Today colour is everywhere, from iPods to Adidas Adicolor trainers, the consumer is offered multiple colour choices on a daily basis. An example of how colours have increased can be seen through Crayola’s increase from eight colours in 1903 to 120 colours in 2013 (Crayola LLC 2013). Production costs have also reduced over the years so whereas in the past printing would often be charged per colour, this is no longer the case with full colour being provided at the same if not lower prices in many cases. Therefore, with an infinite palette of colours to work with choosing the ones which best reflect or support your brand is essential.

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LITERATURE REVIEW

The focus on colour from a marketing viewpoint is focalised on shopping environment atmospherics with studies from (Babin, Hardesty et al. 2003, Bellizzi, Hite 1992, Bellizzi, Crowley et al. 1983, Gorn, Chattopadhyay et al. 2004) A criticism of some of the studies is that colours are divided into ‘warm’ tones such as reds and yellows or ‘cool’ tones such as blues and greens, therefore, bypassing some hues as a result.

2.3

Brand Personality

Brand personality is the set of human characteristics that consumers attribute to a brand based on the user’s perception of that brand (Aaker 1997, Grohmann 2009). In Aaker’s (1997) brand personality research, she developed a scale based on the “Big Five” traits of human personality: “sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication, and ruggedness” (Aaker 1997). Sincerity is based on attributes such as down-to-earth, real, sincere, and honest; Excitement, based on daring, exciting, imaginative, and contemporary; Competence, attributed with intelligent, reliable, secure, and confident; Sophistication, represented by glamorous, upperclass, good looking, and charming; and Ruggedness, which is associated with tough, outdoorsy and masculine (Aaker, Benet-Martínez et al. 2001). This is the standard and most recognised framework for measuring brand personality (Keller, Lehmann 2006). Therefore, these “Big Five” brand dimensions will form the basis of this study in order to help categorise the personalities that the respondents associate with colour. Consumers often attach personality traits to brands, and personality can be a unique aspect that drives a consumer to choosing that particular brand and can be a contributing factor to building brand trust and creating the basis for loyalty (Fournier 1998). Variables that can influence or change a company’s perceived personality can include brand name, product attributes, advertising, logo, and package design (Batra, Lehmann et al. 1993). Moreover, little or no research has been made into how other elements such as colours or

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LITERATURE REVIEW

sounds can impact.

For example a study by Gorn (1982) suggested that music in

advertisements can become intrinsically linked with a brand and generate brand association through paired associations.

In this study they paired liked and disliked music with a two

colour choices of pen, beige and blue. The results were that 79% of respondents chose the pen that correlated with the music that they favoured (Gorn 1982). This shows that stimuli such as sound and colours can impact upon the consumer, and can influence decision making. 2.3.1

Anthropomorphism

Anthropomorphism is a theory that associates how relationships between the consumer and a company can be developed through attaching human attributes and feelings to a brand (Freling, Forbes 2005). Anthropomorphism is when people apply human characteristics and attributes to inanimate objects (Aaker 1997, Fournier 1998). One of the most common forms of this is when people speak their cars and in some cases give them a name. The Volkswagen Air-Cooled Scene is a good example of this, where many have names for their vehicles and in some cases treat them like one of the family. This is also reflected in Disney’s family movie, Herbie, in which the car has a personality of its own and more recently with the Disney Pixar animation ‘Cars’. The latter inspired a range of American Volkswagen adverts in 2009 in which the old Beetle and Campervan were the grandparents to the newer VW models. This form of humanising brands can play an important role in building relationships between the consumer and the brand and often from the encouragement of marketers (Aggarwal, McGill 2007). Aggarwall & McGill (2007) divide anthropomorphism into three headings partial, literal, and accidental.

Partial is where the user see the object as having human attributes whilst

knowing the product not to be human; literal is where the consumer believes the product to be human, as in the example above with people talking to their cars; and, accidental when something occurs that causes the person to think the object is human (Aggarwal, McGill 2007). The importance of Anthropomorphism is explained by Aggarwal & McGill (2007) as a

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LITERATURE REVIEW

way in which customers can build strong relationships and attachments with a brand. Colours can also help to bring life to logos and can help represent human features or emotions. For example, bright colours such as yellow can visually represent a smiling happy face. Therefore, using liked or friendly colours may in turn may help to increase likeability. Fournier (1998) states that anthropomorphism is facilitated in companies by the use of logos or characters, symbols or mascots (Fournier 1998). Throughout history humans have been applying human attributes to animals in order to humanise stories and symbolise specific heroic traits. In marketing of products this is also commonly used, for example Kellogg’s cereal brand icon ‘Tony the Tiger’, or Michelin’s ‘Michelin Man’ (Aggarwal, McGill 2007, Luo, McGoldrick et al. 2006, Callcott, Lee 1995). It could be argued without these friendly icons, the brand would not have received as much brand recognition. 2.3.2

Gender Colours

Pink to make the girls wink. Gendered colours such as pink for girls and blue for boys are a common stereotype that is used in marketing (Grohmann 2009).

In children’s toys for

example, girl toys are often produced in feminine colours such as the pink of Barbie dolls or use gentle pastel shades, whereas boy toys use blues and bright, bold colours (Auster, Mansbach 2012). It is through media therefore, that gender stereotypes are intrinsically learned in children and is used as way to steer children towards a certain toy relating to their gender. Auster & Mansbach’s (2012) research found that this was not always the case as research from the early 1900s found that “the generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls” (Auster, Mansbach 2012). Study 5 will examine if gender plays a part in product choices between male and female respondents by offering products using gender specific colours from Study 1.

2.1

Characteristics of a Logo

The word ‘brand’ is taken from the Norse word ‘to burn’ and branding was first used to burn a farmer’s identification mark onto their cattle, therefore as branding is used in marketing

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LITERATURE REVIEW

today, it differentiates the brand from its competitors. The logo is the focal point of your brand which “various elements of design which are important including the shape, image, style and size, as well as the colour(s) used” (Hynes 2009). A logo consists of a grouping of graphical icons, colours and typefaces, with a symbol or name that differentiates the company from other brands and corporate identities (Pittard, Ewing et al. 2007). Bottomley & Doyle (2006) say visual equity is “the value derived from ‘visual form’, that is the ‘look and feel’ of the brand” (Bottomley, Doyle 2006). Colour plays a major role in helping to create visual equity and the importance of how consumers feel about the specific colours used can therefore affect how the brand is perceived. In a study of children based on how they recognise brands and branding, Macklin (1996) found that the use of visual cues along side the brand name helped increase the recall rate (Macklin 1996). Furthermore, when pictures and colour was attached the results saw an increase in recall. Therefore, when used along side a brand name a logo mark helps increase brand recognition and helps to create greater recognition and increased brand equity (Kohli, Suri 2002). The power of brand equity or value can be demonstrated in De Chernatony and McDonald’s (1992) study in which they conducted a series of taste test between Coca-Cola and Pepsi. The initial test was carried out blind, where the user did not know which brand they were drinking; this provided results where 51% preferred Pepsi, 44% preferred Coke and 5% had no preference. The test was then performed when the participants could see which brand they were drinking and the results were that 65% preferred Coke and only 23% preferred Pepsi, with 12% undecided (De Chernatony, McDonald 1992 p.11). Similarly, Kohli & Suri (2002) found that Kellogg’s product likability increased from 47% when blind tested to 59% when respondents knew the brand (Kohli, Suri 2002). Therefore, it can be said that brand equity can influence or sway consumers into making choices or decisions on liking a product based on predetermined feelings relating to the brand or product. Kohlie & Suri (2002) say that brand names placed alongside a logo mark can increase the value of the brand as it helps stimulate brand recognition through visual cues, which also

TRUE COLOURS: the power of colour in brands and branding

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LITERATURE REVIEW

helps to break any cultural barriers that may exist if a brand relied solely upon their name (Kohli, Suri 2002). Based on these factors, the author intends to conduct the studies in this dissertation using a bespoke logo design and fictitious brand name to offer the greatest level of realism without any brand bias.

2.2

Colours in Packaging

Colours are often used in packaging design to give visual clues to the consumer, in order to aid decision-making. Food packing is an example of this, as many products follow colour norms or have colours to designate features, for example, red, green and blue milk to designate fat content. Green is associated with healthy options such as salads or low calorie options and the new traffic light system denoting how good or bad a product is based on red, orange and green, with green being most healthy. Brand leaders also dictate rival packaging, for example red is predominantly used for own brand cola drinks, which echoes market leader Coca-Cola, silver is used to designate diet drinks in female consumers and black is targeted at males, for example, Pepsi-Max and Coke-Zero. There are some brands however, that choose to differentiate, for example Pepsi who use blue to differentiate their brand from Coca-Cola. There is some argument that by using colour norms of product categories food branding is misleading the consumer, as a survey by consumer group Watchdog found out. Their recent research reports that supermarket ‘own brands’ that use similar or copy-cat packaging are misleading the consumer into choosing their product with “one in five” shoppers accidentally purchasing what they thought to be their favourite brand (Masters 2013). The study found that 150 supermarket own brands had used similar designs and colours from the leading brand in the specific product area. As more people are purchasing value label brands due to their financial situation (Masters 2013), offering a lower cost product on the shelf that uses visual cues such as colours can help reassure the consumer into making that purchase.

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LITERATURE REVIEW

Garber et al. (2000) performed a study with mock supermarket shelves and found that consumers were more likely to select a product that used similar colours to market leader brands (Garber, Burke et al. 2000). With this in mind, Section 3 will feature experiments based on differentiation to establish if it increases the consumers’ purchase likelihood if the colour is congruent with market leaders or norms. Increased brand recognition through the use of colour and logo marks helps the consumer with reassurance and offers visual clues in order to aid decision making, which is important as consumers spend “less than 15 seconds to make a purchase in many product categories” (Kohli, Suri 2002).

Therefore, when used

effectively, colour can be a persuasive factor in alerting the consumer to your product on a crowded shelf. With this in mind, using bright and bold colours may be the best chance at grabbing consumer attention. This will be examined in the packaging studies in Section 3.

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METHODOLOGY

3

METHODOLOGY

This section will set out and explain the methodology used, why it was used and any limitations that may have been discovered.

3.1

Research methods

As the factors affecting the research questions are of visual nature, a quantitative research method was used.

“Quantitative research is focused primarily on the construction of

quantitative data” which gathers market research via conducting techniques such as questionnaires, experiments and surveys (Kent 2007). Quantitative research was chosen over qualitative research due to the visual nature of the studies and by performing them on a computer screen in isolation, as opposed to part of a focus group, there would be less chance of other people influencing a respondent’s answers. Therefore, the honest and instinctive answers of each individual can best be achieved through quantitative research methods. The main feature of the questionnaire was the use of experiments. Kent (2007) states that experiments are “more effective when measuring cause and effect relationships” which is when the marketer uses a dependent variable, such as a generic logo and then controls certain variables, in our case colour, in order to examine and record what differences are found between different respondents (Kent 2007 pg. 224).

As this dissertation aims to

discover the use of colour in branding and therefore relies on a respondent’s visual senses, a survey with experimental focus was deemed to be most suitable and best way to achieve accurate results.

3.2

The ACME Logo

In order to allow for hypothesises to be tested in the following surveys, a generic logo was created that used a fictitious brand name. The logo was influenced by Hynes’ (2009) study into corporate logos but whereas Hynes’ research used multiple random shaped logo marks, this study decided to use a single logo throughout in order to create a more stable test

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METHODOLOGY

without influence of different imagery elements. In Hynes’ study they offered black and white logo marks, without the brand name, and asked the respondent to rate the brand personality and finally suggest which colours would suit, therefore this was heavily based on what the imagery of the icon mark conjured in the respondent. The tests in this dissertation will therefore be less influenced by the graphical elements and should provide clearer results based mostly on colours. For our fictitious brand logo (Figure 1) ACME was chosen as a generic brand name and a simple logo mark that consisted of an asterisk inside a circle was Figure 1 placed along side.

The logo was designed in the

graphic design software, Adobe Illustrator. ACME was typed in a plain sans serif typeface, DIN Condensed, which is commonly used in logo design projects. In similar tests on brand personality, the researchers would use a logo mark without a brand name or use existing real brands in which to conduct their experiments. This mock logo replicates a real life logo but helps to remain neutral by removing any bias towards a brand that may exist through a user’s experiences with that brand. By using a brand name along side the logo mark it adds more value as it provides a greater realism to the test as it tries to replicate the user’s first impression of a brand. Ten colour versions of the logo were created, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, pink, purple, black, white and brown. These colour choices were based on Wexner’s 1954 study of moods relating to colour hues but also included white to counter black and pink in order to fulfil the gender research. The questionnaires were given to graphic designers to complete via the printing.com’s internal message board and were also distributed to respondents through a series of social media posts. For the initial test a total of 40 respondents completed the research. The first test aims to re-examine the previous research that people attribute human characteristics to colours by supplying a questionnaire using the mock logo in different colours. The aim is to find out in further tests whether people will make product choices based on their feelings towards certain colours and does this correlate with preferred

TRUE COLOURS: the power of colour in brands and branding

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METHODOLOGY

colours. For example, blue is a colour often associated with trust and is often chosen by banking or finance firms. Other tests will include whether people choose products based on product category norms, for example, if a respondent normally buys Coca-Cola would they choose a red colour when trying a new brand or a brand that tries to differentiate from market leaders.

3.3

Sampling

For the initial test the survey was posted on Facebook and also on printing.com’s internal message board in order to attract answers from the graphic design world.

The aim was to

see if there was a difference in opinion between graphic designers compared with other respondents. A total of 40 people completed the survey. For the second questionnaire it was also posted to Facebook friends and printing.com employees. This time the users were prompted to recommend friends to complete the survey; this method is called snowball sampling (Goodman 1961). This process allows an accumulation of respondents whereby respondents are asked to share with other potential respondents. Facebook is an ideal vehicle for this process due to the ‘like’ and ‘share’ buttons in which a respondent can share to their audience with a simple click. This therefore helps to provide a varied range of respondents.

3.4

Questionnaire

The research method that was chosen was a series of questionnaires based on colour. The first questionnaire consisted of questions relating to colour likes and dislikes which was then followed by asking the user to match human behaviours or attributes to a series of identical ACME logos in 10 different colour hues. The results from this initial study were used to prepare colours for the next 4 studies that were based around product packaging design to determine what factors affect choosing one product over another. The questionnaires can be seen at Appendix I and Appendix II.

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METHODOLOGY

The experiments in the follow up questionnaire used mock brand packaging that was designed in Adobe Photoshop, an image editing programme, and made to look as realistic as possible by recreating supermarket shelving. Each item was then hand rendered with light and shade tools to provide a greater depth and level of realism. The idea behind this is to create a virtual shopping experience, whereby the user can visualise how they might find them on the shelf.

3.5

The Colour Experiments

The following sections will indentify the basis of each of the colour experiments and provide the hypotheses that will be tested against. 3.5.1

Study 1 – Colours linked to human emotions

This initial study was the core test in which the results determine what colours are used in the subsequent colour experiments. This initial experiment asked the user to pick from a list of human personality traits they felt the logo suggested from a list of Aaker’s (1997) brand personality traits. The respondent was first asked to list any colour likes or dislikes and was then shown the ACME logo in ten different colours and finally asked to state their preferred logo.

The first hypothesis is that the respondents will favour a logo based on colour

preference. H1

People will favour the logo based on their favourite colour choice.

The subsequent studies were carried out after this initial study was completed. It should be noted that the results from Study 1 were not shown to the respondents before asking them to complete the subsequent tests. See paragraph 4.1 for the results of Study 1. For the product mock-ups, low involvement products were used, as they are more likely to offer less attachment to high involvement products. The mock-ups were designed in Adobe Photoshop and rendered with highlights and shading and placed on virtual shelves to recreate a shopping experience as closely as possible.

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METHODOLOGY

3.5.2

Study 2 – Economy of Colours

This study was designed to identify what levels of value people attribute to a colour when attached to a product.

Yellow and

orange were selected, as they were the most attributed with low cost in Study 1. The two colours were then contrasted with highest scoring under sophistication, black and purple

Figure 2

and blue to see if there is correlation with the results from study one when respondents were offered a choice in a mock situation as opposed to colour logos in isolation. For this test the respondent was asked to help the ACME brand decide on a colour for its new value range and were then shown two products in the above four colours. They were asked to choose which colours they felt best reflects good value. The graphics for this study can be seen at Figure 2. This leads us to our next hypothesis: H2

People will favour orange or yellow as the most suitable for an economy range.

3.5.3

Study 3 – Colour to Trust

This study used the results from Study 1 to create five ACME branded bank credit cards

(Figure

3).

This Figure 3

experiment was carried out to see if there is correlation between a respondent’s levels of colour associated trust to the bank that they choose. This may be of particular interest as banking is a sector that has been badly affected by public trust due to the recent banking crisis of 2008. The respondent was asked to select a bank that they could trust with their money. The colours offered were based on the highest scoring trust and sincerity colours from Study 1,

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23


METHODOLOGY

blue and green and contrasted with red and yellow, the least trusted colours scoring between honesty and reliable from the initial study. Red is also the most associated with daring, excitement and therefore risk so was chosen as a contrast and finally yellow, a colour most associated with cheerfulness and therefore potentially thought to be less responsible and therefore least trustworthy. This leads us to the third predicted hypothesis: H3

People will choose blue and green as the bank in which they trust.

3.5.4

Study 4 – Colour Differentiation

This study again used the ACME logo but now transfers it to product packaging in supermarket environments. The idea behind this study is to help marketers that are bringing new products to market to identify any links based on current product colour norms and whether differentiation of colour is effective for new products in colour associated markets. Study 4.1 – ACME Cola In this experiment the respondents were asked to choose a can of cola from our mock

supermarket

shelf

(Figure

4).

Before asking the respondent to choose, they were informed that they had a voucher for a free ACME cola and were asked to select one from the available colours.

The reason for this was to

remove the choice of Pepsi or Coca-Cola but still have them visible on the shelf to Figure 4 allow for added realism.

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24


METHODOLOGY

Four colours were used, red and blue based on industry leaders Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola, which coincidentally were also the two most favoured colours in Study 1. The third colour was based on brown, the colour of the product itself and fourth was the colour purple. Purple was next most favoured after red, blue and pink; pink was not chosen due to the strong gender association. The prediction is that people will choose based on their preference to Coca-Cola and Pepsi, therefore most will select red, next will be blue then followed by the other colours. Brown is expected to get the least votes due to it being the leased favoured colour from Study 1. Following this question, we ask the respondent to state their favoured cola brand to help identify any correlation with colours choices. H4

People will choose a product based on the colour of their favoured brand when asked to purchase a new brand.

Study 4.2 – ACME Water As with the Study 4.1, users were asked to choose a bottle of ACME water from a choice of three colours (Figure 5). Blue and green are the most commonly used colours in the bottled water market as both colours are from the ‘cool’ colour palette.

Blue said to represent freshness, water

and sky and green suggests outdoors, health, so are both good choices for a natural refreshment. The third colour was a contrasting choice of red; a colour associated with excitement, which was also high scoring as a favourite colour for both genders.

Figure 5

This test is to determine whether the

user will stick to the industry norms or choose a colour that differentiates from the category norms. Therefore, this leads to the next hypothesis: H5

People will chose products that use congruent colours with the product category norms.

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METHODOLOGY

3.5.5

Study 5 – Masculine and Feminine Colours

The purpose of this final study was to identify whether choosing a masculine or feminine colour scheme can negatively influence the opposite gender into making or not making a product choice. The study again used ACME branded packaging and used blue, black and brown for masculine choices and pink and purple for feminine; these were the most associated colours from Study 1. H6

Male respondents will choose masculine colours whereas female respondents will choose from both gender colour choices.

In order to test the above hypothesis, the following two experiments were carried out. Study 5.1 ACME Washing Detergents The product chosen for this study was washing detergent, as it is a product purchase by both male and female consumers.

The respondent

was offered two masculine and two feminine colours and asked to select which one they would buy (Figure 6).

The prediction is that male

respondents will favour the black and blue detergents whereas female users will choose predominantly choose pink and purple, but will Figure 6 also choose blue and black.

Black is the colour

used for both Coca-Cola Zero and Pepsi-Max which are targeted at the male consumer. Study 5.2 ACME Shower Gel Shower gel was also chosen, as it is a product purchased by both genders. The respondent was Figure 7

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26


METHODOLOGY

only offered a choice of three colours, black, brown and purple; therefore it was masculine heavy on the gendered colours (Figure 7).

It is expected that the majority of male

respondents will choose black or brown rather than purple.

3.6

Limitations of the research method

As with most academic research, there are found to be limitations. One of the limitations was the sample size as the first study was completed only be 40 respondents, although, there was almost even split between graphic designers and normal respondents. The second round of studies received a better response with 105 people completing the study. This may be due to the first test taking longer to complete as the statistics showed that 87 people clicked on the link for Study 1 with less than half going on to complete the survey. The graphic design message board thread received no replies but over 200 views. Another limitation was that the studies were not conducted in a controlled environment and therefore variations in monitor screen calibration could impact upon the results.

Some

feedback with the mock washing detergent noted that the respondent felt the black coloured one looked more like motor oil, and was the reason they chose an alternate colour, therefore this may have similarly effected other respondents also.

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ANALYSIS

4

ANALYSIS

This section will explore the findings and results from all tests carried out.

4.1

Study 1 (Favourite Colours) Analysis

A total of 40 respondents completed this initial study and the results were collected automatically through a Google web shared drive. Out of the 40 participants, 52% were male and 48% were female, 45% were graphic designers, 13% were students and 43% were listed as other. 18% were in the 18-24 age bracket, 43% were aged between 25-34, 33% were 3544, only 3% between 45-54 and 5% were over 55. This provides a balanced view, as there is a relatively equal male to female ratio and almost half were graphic designers. In terms of favourite colours of the respondents, red was the most favoured colour with 32%. Blue had a 25% share followed by pink and purple with 17% and 13% respectively. Green was favoured by 5%, black, white and orange each received 3% of the vote and yellow, brown and ‘no preference’ all received zero votes. The highest number of votes for colour dislikes was ‘none disliked’, which received 38% of the vote. Most disliked colour was therefore brown with 25% of the vote followed by yellow with 15%, pink with 10% green and orange both with 5% and purple with 3%. Red, blue, black and white were disliked by none of the respondents.

Red, from the literature review was often

associated with negativity or danger; however, in this study it was found to be a favourite colour in a high percentage of both genders. Table 1 shows the results from the most favoured logo colour in Study 1. The results showed that 9 respondents preferred white as their logo preference, 8 preferred blue with red and black both equal in third place with 6 votes each. Therefore, 37.5% of people chose black or white as their logo preference and so could be argued as people are more attached to a brand if there is no colour hue association. It may be, however, simply as they were seeing the logo isolated and not in context in a normal branding or packaging situation.

TRUE COLOURS: the power of colour in brands and branding

Red, again, was

28


ANALYSIS

selected by 15% of respondents, so any negative associations seen in when reviewing the literature do not seem to be transferred in terms of logo choice. Table 1

RED

ORANGE

YELLOW

GREEN

BLUE

PURPLE

PINK

BLACK

WHITE

BROWN

6

2

1

3

8

1

4

6

9

0

Figure 8 shows the break down in terms of male and female preference male respondents most preferred blue with 38% choosing as their favourite, female was only 11%.

Both

genders favoured red with male 33% and female 32%. Both male and female respondents also favoured pink with 21% of female and 14% of male, as was purple with 5% of males and 21% of females choosing it. Yellow (5%) and green (11%) were the only other colours favoured by female respondents.

White and

black received 5% each for the male votes.

Figure 8

Hypothesis H1 was that the respondents would favour a logo based on their favourite colour. The results found this not to be the case as only 9 out of 40 respondents favoured the logo that matched their colour preference, so whilst there was some support of this it was only found to be true in 22.5% of respondents’ answers.

4.2

Study 1 (Brand Personality) Analysis

The results from the subsequent questions was analysed by grouping the results under the “Big Five” headings from Aaker’s (1997) brand personality test, sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication, and ruggedness. For the purpose of the subsequent studies relating to masculine, feminine and economy colours, two other categories were produced, gender and low cost. A breakdown of the make up of each category is as follows:

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ANALYSIS

Sincerity:

Down to earth, family orientated, small town, honest, sincere, real, wholesome, original, cheerful, sentimental, friendly

Excitement:

Daring, trendy, exciting, spirited, cool, young, imaginative, unique, up to date, independent, contemporary

Competence:

Reliable, hardworking, secure, intelligent, technical, corporate, successful, leader, confident

Sophistication: Upper class, glamorous, good looking, charming, smooth Ruggedness:

Tough, rugged, outdoorsy

Gender:

Masculine, feminine

Low cost:

Economy, cheap

The following sub paragraphs provide analysis of each heading. 4.2.1

Sincerity

Green was seen as the colour most associated with sincerity receiving 60 votes, with brown in second with 52 and then orange with 46 votes. Red was least sincere with only five votes across the sincerity headings. Brown and green are most associated with earth and the environment, so this may have had an effect on the results seen. Yellow, orange and pink were most associated with cheerful and friendly. 4.2.2

Excitement

Purple and pink were most exciting colours with 64 and 61 votes respectively; white received 56 and red only 50 votes, although as expected, red received most when taken in isolation under the ‘daring’ heading with 26 compared to purple and pink with 21 each, which correlates with previous literature.

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ANALYSIS

4.2.3

Competence

As predicted, blue was chosen as the colour most associated with competence with 56 votes followed by black with 38 votes. This corroborates the research that blue is a colour most associated with trust and is ideal for branding of financial companies. Black was next most competent with 38 followed by red with 24. 4.2.4

Sophistication

Black was the most associated with sophistication with 19 votes. Purple, a colour historically linked with royalty, also received a high share of votes with 15.

Orange was the least

sophisticated colour choice, and could be due to the colour’s positive association with low cost. 4.2.5

Ruggedness

Brown was most voted for under the ruggedness heading with 44 votes and green next choice with 31 votes. These two colours have a link with earthiness and nature, which may help provide an understanding for the reason behind respondents’ votes. Brown and black were most associated with tough and brown and green most outdoorsy colours. Ruggedness could also be seen as a masculine personality trait and the following gender results for black also support this suggestion. 4.2.6

Masculine / Feminine

Pink was, as expected, the most feminine colour with 32 votes and purple was second with 23 and white, possibly due to traditional bridal colours, was third with 11. Blue is the gendered norm for male colour, but our research revealed the black logo to be most associated with masculinity with 23 votes and blue received 21.

Brown was third most masculine with 15

votes. Therefore, black, brown and blue will be used for our masculine colours and pink and purple for feminine in Study 5.

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ANALYSIS

4.2.7

Low Cost

The most associated low cost colours were as predicted yellow and orange with 18 and 17 votes respectively. Supermarkets’ economy ranges are most notable for using colours to highlight them to the consumer. Significantly, Sainsbury’s use orange as the main colour of their ‘Basics’ range, Morrisons range was yellow and Tesco’s was blue and red. Therefore, there is correlation between the top two colours associated and the respondents’ answers. Although, each supermarket uses their brand colours to signal their economy range so this could affect the respondents’ answers subconsciously. However, in 2012, both Tesco and Morrisons rebranded their economy ranges and both now make use of a varied colour palette. In Morrisons’ example, the product itself dictates the packaging colour, for instance, the M Saver ketchup is red whereas the saver salad is green and Tesco similarly use colours mostly based on their product, for example the everyday value Jaffa Cakes use orange as their primary colour. Therefore, a move away from being perceived as economy colours may be the reason behind these two rebranding projects.

The M Savers packing is visually

exciting and uses hand drawn graphics and typefaces; its use of colour helps freshen up the previous yellow value range, which could be a contradiction in its intended place on the shelf as it could be argued looks more aesthetically pleasing than the regular brand. Table 2 shows the complete set of figures from Study 1 with the total amount of votes for each colour across the seven categories. Table 2

Sincerity

Excitement

Competence

Sophistication

Ruggedness Male

Green 60 Brown 52 Orange 46 Yellow 33 White 27 Pink 24 Purple 19 Black 14 Blue 10 Red 5

Purple 64 Pink 61 White 56 Red 50 Yellow 27 Orange 24 Blue 22 Black 16 Green 8 Brown 2

Blue 56 Black 38 Red 24 Green 16 White 13 Pink 12 Purple 11 Brown 7 Orange 6 Yellow 5

Black 19 Purple 15 White 15 Pink 14 Blue 6 Yellow 6 Red 2 Green 2 Brown 1 Orange 0

TRUE COLOURS: the power of colour in brands and branding

Brown 44 Green 31 Black 21 Red 16 Orange 14 White 2 Yellow 2 Blue 1 Purple 1 Pink 0

Gender Female

Black 23 Blue 21 Brown 15 Red 10 White 4 Green 4 Orange 3 Purple 1 Yellow 0 Pink 0

Pink 32 Purple 23 White 11 Yellow 4 Red 2 Green 1 Blue 1 Orange 1 Black 0 Brown 0

Low Cost Yellow 18 Orange 17 Brown 9 Black 4 White 4 Pink 4 Red 4 Green 2 Blue 2 Purple 1

32


ANALYSIS

The expanded colour chart based on the colours above can be seen at Appendix III. The “Big Five” colours

The following figures show how many votes each colour received across the Aaker’s “Big Five” categories, removing gender and low cost from the equation.

In order of most

associations first: Green 117, White 113, Pink 111, Purple 110, Black 108, Brown 106, Red 97, Blue 95, Orange 90, and finally Yellow 73. Green received most associations throughout the behavioural tests but was not selected as favourite colour by any male respondents and only received 11% of female votes. This correlates with Ou et al. (2004) that colours are not favoured simply due to their positive emotions (Ou, Luo et al. 2004). Questionnaire 2

The following studies, Study 2 through to Study 5, were conducted as part of the second questionnaire. 105 respondents completed this of which 57% were female and 43% male, 28% were graphic designers.

4.3

Study 2 (Economy of Colours) Analysis

The findings from this study were mostly as expected with orange and yellow receiving the most votes with 29% and 27% respectively. The surprise was that blue, which only received two votes for low cost association in Study 1, received 22% of votes in this study. Purple also received more than expected with 14% and black was

Figure 9

least associated with 9%, which is somewhat congruent with Study 1. The breakdown of votes can be seen at Figure 9. Slight differences were noted between female and male respondents (Error! Reference source not found.). In females yellow received 30% votes and was most associated, blue was next with 27%, orange received 22%, purple 12% and black 10%. Whilst yellow received most votes, blue was next most selected for economy or low cost attributes, which somewhat

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33


ANALYSIS

differs in relation to the figures in Study 1. In male respondents the most selected colour was orange with 38% followed by yellow with 22%. Purple and blue votes were close with 18% and 16% respectively and black only received 7%. With this in mind, our hypothesis H2 was supported overall, but when broken down in gender results was only partially supported.

4.4

Study 3 (Trust) Analysis

As seen in Figure 11, blue was the dominant colour choice for the study on trust with an overall 56% majority of votes. Green was next most trusted with 26%, which is in line with previous research, including the figures from Study 1, that blue and green are most sincere and trusted colours. Red received 13 votes and yellow with 6 Figure 10

was, as expected, least trusted colour. In consideration of different genders, the only distinct differences between them were that 18%

of

male

respondents

chose

compared with only 8% of females.

red, Both

favoured blue as main choice of trust with 53% of males and 58% of females and green was also both sexes preferred second most voted for with 22% of males and 28% of Figure 11

females. See Figure 12 for the break down. Although green did not receive an equal share of the votes between blue and green, it did receive a considerable amount more than red and yellow, therefore it can be concluded that hypothesis H3 was found to be supported.

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ANALYSIS

4.5

Study 4 (Differentiation) Analysis

4.5.1

ACME Cola

Coca-Cola’s dominance of colour association of the cola market echoed the results from this study with red holding a clear 66% majority among respondents (Figure 13). With only 13% of votes, blue did not perform as well as expected, even when respondents chose Pepsi as their favourite cola in the subsequent question, only

Figure 12

five Pepsi drinkers chose the blue ACME cola, four were female and one was male. Figure 14 looks at the differences between male and female votes. We can see that the majority of males (84%) chose red as their ACME cola of choice, with only 9% blue and 7 % purple. Male respondents selected zero brown ACME colas. 52% of female respondents chose red followed by

Figure 13

20% purple, 17% blue and 12% brown. 4.5.2

ACME Water

Figure 15 shows there was a clear preference for the blue packaging with ACME water with 72% of the votes and green saw 21%. Red, as predicted was least chosen with only 7% of votes. The results from this test correlate with the market norms for the bottled water market with the majority of brands using blue colours. Figure 14

As you can see from Figure 16, the break down of gender

voting

shows

there

are

no

major

differences. Figure 15 TRUE COLOURS: the power of colour in brands and branding

35


ANALYSIS

Blue is also the natural colour associated with water from childhood so may be an intrinsically learned association.

Likewise, red and blue are closely linked with water

throughout the world due to hot and cold water taps, therefore psychologically this may have also influenced the respondents’ answers from choosing cool blue rather than warm red. Also, the majority of bottled water branding uses blue or cool colour palettes. With this in mind, and with the figures from this research, choosing such a strong warm colour would not be a good differentiating colour scheme. Hypothesis H5 was therefore supported in both tests.

4.6

Study 5 (Gender) Analysis

4.6.1

ACME Washing Detergent

This first gender test intended to show that male respondents would choose blue and black detergent over purple and pink and female respondents would show no gender colour bias.

Overall, the

results for blue, pink and purple were evenly spread with pink receiving 33%, purple and blue each with 30%, whereas only 7%

Figure 16

chose black (Figure 17). When female and male votes are broken down (Figure 18) we can see that female respondents favour pink with 37%, then purple with 30%, followed by blue with 27% and black with 7%. With the male respondents, 33% chose blue, 31% chose purple, 29% preferred pink and black was least also with 7%. Therefore, female respondents favoured feminine colours, whereas with male respondents although blue was highest scoring, feminine colours were of almost equal percentages. Black was expected to feature in more in male respondents choices due to its associations from Study 1. Figure 17

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ANALYSIS

4.6.2

ACME Shower Gel

This second gender test offered only three colours, purple for feminine, black and brown for masculine.

It was expected that

female respondents would mostly choose purple followed whereas males would favour black and brown. The purple shower gel was chosen by 72% of respondents, 21% chose black and just 7% chose Figure 18

brown (Figure 19). Figure 20 shows that the majority of both genders chose purple, 82% of females and 60% of male respondents. A larger 36% portion of male respondents chose black compared to only 10% of females. Brown was least chosen Figure 19 amongst both sexes with 4% of the male vote and 8% of female votes, which correlates with the figures from Study 1 that selected brown as most disliked colour. With this in mind hypothesis H6 was found to be incorrect and could be reversely applied in relation to female respondents.

4.7

Order Effect Analysis

There is some suggestion that order of placement supermarket shelves can determine which products are selected. For example research shows that consumers favour products on left hand side as the human eye scans from left to right, and products that are at eye level, near the top are more attractive to the consumer. Bruegelmans et al. (2007) found that the same ideas could be transferred to online shopping websites where items at the top were found to be more popular (Breugelmans, Campo et al. 2007)

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ANALYSIS

The first two tests in relation to economy and trust feature left to right product positioning, therefore, can be tested for how they perform in relation to how the human eye reads or views from left to right. In the economy test, the top row of products performed better than the bottom row. However, orange was positioned on the right and received most votes. The ACME bank test found that each colour received a higher percentage of votes the further left it was, therefore the ordering could have contributed to the results. It may simply be due to them being placed with the strongest trust colours on the left, and weaker on the right.

Therefore, ordering

effects on these first tests do not appear to be connected with the suggestion being that colour is the driving factor behind the respondents’ choices. The other tests were ordered from top to bottom, therefore ordering effects would suggested that respondents will prefer the top products over bottom placed items. In the ACME water studies, the respondents’ answers again correlated with order effects with top, middle then bottom receiving most votes. However, as in the trust study, the strongest colours were placed in order from top to bottom, therefore, it cannot be concluded that there is correlation with order effects and the respondents’ product choice. This can also be demonstrated by the ACME cola test. The red cola was most chosen which was on the top of our virtual shelf so therefore shows some support, however, next most selected was purple which was at the bottom, which does not correlate with the order effects research. Finally, the two gender product tests also do not correlate as the black ACME detergent is on the top shelf and receives least votes, whereas pink, blue, and purple all receive an equal share. Similarly, the brown and black ACME shower gels are placed on the top two shelves but receive 28% share of the votes over purple, which was on the bottom shelf and received 72% of votes. Therefore, the evidence above suggests that colour is the dominant factor in determining which products are selected.

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CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

5

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

5.1

Conclusion

The aim of this dissertation was to identify to what extent colour used in a company’s brand and product packaging can influence the consumer into making a product choice. The main findings are summarised in the following paragraphs. 5.1.1

What can be learned from the brand personality results in Study 1?

The findings from Study 1 were interesting as there was definite correlation with previous research. Green, brown and orange were all highly associated with sincerity. There was dominance of blue in the competence and in regards to trust. Red was most associated with excitement and green, brown and black with ruggedness.

These were all found to be

consistent with previous literature. 5.1.2

Is there a link between colour preference and choice of product?

Hypothesis H1: that people will favour the logo, and therefore brand, that correlates with their favourite colour. This was found not to be the case with only 22.5% of people selecting the log that matched their favourite colour. With this in mind, it shows that colour likes is not a major factor in brand choice. However, it could be suggestive that colour dislikes may play some part as the most disliked colours were brown (25%) and yellow (15%), which received 0 and 1 vote respectively for favourite colour of logo.

Again, this may be simply due to the

logos being viewed in isolation and not as part of the overall branding; for example, if the brown logo was used as part of an outdoors activity brand it may have scored better than blue would. This therefore may benefit from further research in the future, but at the moment the hypothesis was found to be false 5.1.3

What can be learned from Studies 2 – 5?

The results from these tests and hypotheses are explained below.

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CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Hypothesis H2: People will favour orange or yellow as the most suitable for an economy range. This was supported in terms of overall votes between both genders with orange and yellow receiving the most votes. As mentioned in the analysis, only partial support was found when focusing on the female respondents in which a high number selected blue, which gave an similar share between orange, yellow and blue. Therefore there is partial support when broken down, and is fully supported when combined genders vote. When thinking of economy or value products, the supermarkets’ own low cost brands may have influenced the colours of this test, with orange and yellow most as associated. Sale items are often reduced with a yellow knocked down price sticker, so again this may have some influence.

Moreover, the word ‘economy’ has an association with economy airlines

and the bright orange of value brand easyJet, which most consumers will have at some experience of.

Therefore, the respondents may have subconsciously been attaching

easyGroup’s economy brand colour association to this study. Hypothesis H3: People will choose blue and green as the bank in which they trust. This was fully supported and the results showed that the majority did choose either blue or green. The dominance of blue in bank branding can be an influencing factor as the following list of banks use blue as their primary colour: Royal Band of Scotland, Bank of Scotland, Halifax, Barclays, Nationwide and Citibank. Green, however, is relatively unused in banking sector branding and with its high level of sincerity associations would be a good differentiating colour for a new bank or a rebrand project. Red was also interestingly not valued as being a good choice of bank as two of UK’s largest banks, Santander and HSBC, both use red as their main colour. Hypothesis H4: People will choose a product based on the colour of their favoured

brand

when

asked

to

purchase a new brand. In Figure 21, the break down of what each genders favourite cola brands were.

Figure 20

When

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CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

further dissected into who chose what compared to their favoured brand, the following information was found. In the male respondents only one respondent who favoured Pepsi chose blue ACME Cola, whilst the remaining 8 Pepsi drinkers all chose red. However, 25 out of 29 male Coca-Cola drinkers chose red ACME cola. When looking at female Pepsi drinkers, 4 out of 13 chose blue ACME cola, with 6 choosing red and the final 3 selected purple. There was also a pleasant surprise in that one female respondent chose ACME as her favourite cola brand. Again, female Coca-Cola drinker showed preference to red ACME cola with 18 out of 30 selecting it.

Hypothesis H4 is therefore not fully supported.

Moreover, it helps

demonstrate the powerful brand equity that Coca-Cola has in that a high number of respondents from both Pepsi and Coca-Cola favoured red. Therefore, the evidence can lead to the conclusion that by associating a product colour with the market leader or brand with biggest brand equity could be beneficial in influencing a consumer toward choosing the brand. Hypothesis H5: People will choose products that use congruent colours with the product category norms. There was support for this in both Cola and Water tests so could be argued that differentiation is more damaging for brands in these two particular sectors. However, this would need further research to fully accept that it is true across a wider range of product categories as it may not be the case for all. Hypothesis H6: Male respondents will choose masculine colours whereas female respondents will choose from both gender colour choices.

As the analysis discovered, this

was found to be unsupported. Male respondents did not appear to be limiting their product choices to masculine colours. 5.1.4

Was there a difference between the demographics?

Whilst there were some gender differences shown in some of the tests, the differences between genders were not as expected and, for example, pink was selected in a higher percentage of male respondents than expected. Age groups also did not provide any patterns in how people voted so were not further explored. Moreover, the research initially intended to

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CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

find out if graphic designers thought differently to the other respondents in relation to colour choices. There was found to be no pattern in relation to this so it was also not thought to be of any significance. 5.1.5

Can this be turned into a tool for graphic designers?

The research has certainly opened the author’s eyes to the impact different colours can have on branding projects. The results from the second round of studies may be useful to graphic designers in terms of advice in relation to certain product types and gendered colour preference, but it would need wider and deeper research across product and market categories in order to make a complete colour tool for designers to use. However, the brand personality results will be of interest to designers and marketers and could be used as a reference guide. With this in mind, a visual guide has been created to help designers and can be seen in the section 5.4.1 the Colour Brand Personality Model.

5.2

Limitations

As with most research, there are found to be limitations.

With these studies the main

limitation in the eyes of the author was time in relation to scope, in that it chose a wide range of studies rather than concentrating on one area. The following paragraphs will list specific limitations. Firstly, it could be argued that only using 10 colours was a limitation, however, for the purpose of this research it was deemed most appropriate to limit the colours used in order to keep the respondent interested and not ‘switch off’. The sample size of the initial test was also smaller than preferable. This was due to difficulty in getting respondents to complete the questionnaires, which may have been due to the repetition of the personality questions as respondents had to select from a long list of human personality traits for each logo. This can be demonstrated as more that double the number of respondents completed the second questionnaire, which took less time to complete and was therefore easier.

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CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The ACME coloured logos were made up of a single colour, whereas most logos consist of two or more colours so this could be seen as a limitation.

Therefore, more research could

be conducted using logos of two or more colours, which would add further strength to the research. This may be a difficult task due the nature of colour and how using harmonic colours or contrasting colours can change the mood of the colour. For example clashing colours schemes may work for bold and brash companies that target youthful consumers but are unlikely to attract a more mature demographic. Only the ACME cola study was followed up by asking the user to name their cola brand of choice. Therefore, not knowing the respondents’ reasons behind their choice may be seen as a limitation and by asking a follow up question could have provided more insight into what peoples’ reasons for choosing were based on. There has been a recent trend of new logos such as eBay, Google and Google Chrome and several others that use multiple colour palettes. This use of multiple colours may be to symbolise multiculturalism of the user and individuality of their colour choices, including multiple colours so as to not discriminate or negatively affect the consumer. A new trend of chameleon-like logos are emerging that use colours based on their surroundings. Media firms are rebranding with colourful new logos, for example channel the More4 and ITV rebrands both involve multiple colour schemes and ITV draws its colours from the colours in the image it is placed over. The author’s personal preference is for a logo’s brand name to be unsaturated in black or dark grey with the icon in either two or three colours. Therefore future research using logos of two colour versus multiple colours may provide a wider understanding of colour associations when combining colours. As touched upon in the section 3.6, another potential limitation is as a result of the tests being distributed via the Internet is the fact that each respondent’s computer screen will vary slightly from computer to computer. This fact may need to be taken into account and future studies be conducted in a more precise and controlled environment.

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CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

5.3

Recommendations and Future Research

Due to the vast nature and difficulty in obtaining a global sample, it was therefore decided to remove culture from our study. It is recommended that research into cultures could be undertaken.

Due to the global nature of brands this would greatly assist successful

worldwide brand strategies of small to medium born global companies to ensure that no offence is caused or confusion through incoherent brand messages.

For example, in China

white is associated with death and is used as a mourning colour whereas black is worn at weddings, which is the opposite of Western countries’ association (Stone 2008 pg. 31). Therefore, future research could involve respondents from different cultures to compare and contrast results. This may be a challenging task due to wide ranges of meanings throughout the world. This may be becoming less of an important factor though as with the rise of global brands, as these cultural differences are being more and more diluted as western culture crosses over. Recently, for example, a shift of the metaphoric meaning of white has been seen with traditional Chinese negative association of funerals shifting to a modern association with weddings and purity (Wang 2013). As touched upon above, due to the wide range of colours available to a designer, future research should be conducted involving a wider range of hues and shades. To add to the research, an exploration of colour norms could be conducted. Study 4 touched the surface of this, with the Cola and Water experiments. Therefore, it could be beneficial to marketers to have more research into how colours associated to certain sectors perform.

5.4

Implications of Research

This research has tried to cover some ground with regards to how people can perceive colours in branding and marketing of a product. Whilst there is still a large amount of research that can be carried out, it should hopefully add to what limited information that already exists on the subject. The aim or the research was to help designers embarking on design or branding projects to help them choose colour that best suit the brand or the sector

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CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

in which the brand sits. The results from Study 1 can form the basis as a quick point of reference to colour and how the consumer views colours in relation to human behaviours. Therefore, the author has compiled a chart of the colours associated with each personality attribute under each of the “Big Five” headings. Also included are the gender and economy colour results. This is a visual ‘quick reference’ guide that can assist or be shown to clients to help when deciding on colour schemes. The following model is a quick reference guide for graphic designers and marketers that can be used to influence their colour choices for brands which aim to appeal to the brand personality traits.

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CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

5.4.1

The Colour Brand Personality Model

5.4.2

Final thought

The theory behind colours and the effects they have on peoples’ perceptions is set in the realm of psychology and from where the majority of literature was located. Colours are intrinsically linked to the human psyche, where many associations are learned from a young age, through positive and negative experiences the person has with a colour and therefore is

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CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

difficult to fully predict. Whilst the majority of research is based in psychology, this research and more recent studies in marketing and brand literature hope to bridge the gaps in knowledge and further aid designers and marketers. With this in mind, marketers should direct more attention to the psychology of marketing as it can go a long way to help understand the consumer and could therefore be the difference in making or breaking a brand in discovering the true power of colours in brands and branding.

Words: 14,199

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REFERENCES

6

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APPENDICES

Appendix I.

QUESTIONNAIRE 1

Hello, I am in my 4th year of a Marketing degree at the University of Stirling and currently undertaking this research as part of my dissertation. This questionnaire aims to help identity and understand potential problems when deciding on colour choice in logos and branding. It will ask questions relating to colour personality to see if there is any link and finally have some example logos to help identify any links. There are two tests, please choose which colour associations you best feel. This should take no more that 5-10 mins to compete. All answers will be kept anonymous and used only for the purpose of this dissertation. Thanks for your time, Alan (favourite colour: red) What is your favourite colour?

Any colour you dislike?

Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Purple Pink Black Brown White No favourite

Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Purple Pink Black Brown White None disliked

Test 1. Colour and Personality The following list of words are mostly used to describe human characteristics or personality traits of people. Look at the different coloured logos below and tick as many words you feel suggest each of the colour personalities.

Down to earth: family orientated, small town Honest: sincere, real Wholesome: original Cheerful: sentimental, friendly Daring: trendy, exciting Spirited: cool, young Imaginative: unique Up to date: independent, contemporary Reliable: hardworking, secure Intelligent: technical, corporate Successful: leader, confident

TRUE COLOURS: the power of colour in brands and branding

Upper-class: glamorous, good looking Charming: smooth Tough: rugged Outdoorsy Masculine Feminine Economy/Cheap [This was then repeated for each colour].

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APPENDICES

Appendix II.

QUESTIONNAIRE 2

Hello, I am in my 4th year of a Marketing degree at the University of Stirling and currently undertaking this research as part of my dissertation. This is the second (and final) questionnaire - thank you to all who completed the first. The following questions are based on products and branding, please read the question and choose your answer instinctively. This should take no more than 5 minutes to complete. All answers will be kept anonymous and used only for the purpose of this dissertation. Thanks for your time, Alan

Q1. ACME brand are launching a low cost product to rival supermarkets' value product ranges. ACME need your help to decide upon colour scheme for their range. Please choose which of the following best conveys good value for money. Orange Purple Black

Yellow Blue

Green Red

Q3. You have a voucher for ACME cola please choose which appeals to you most. Red

Brown

TRUE COLOURS: the power of colour in brands and branding

Purple

Q3.1 What is your favourite cola? Coca-Cola None

Pepsi Other:

Q4. You have a voucher for ACME water please choose which appeals to you most. Blue Red

Q2. ACME financial services are launching next month and would like you to choose their brand colour. Which bank would you trust with your money? Blue Yellow

Blue

Green

Q5. You have a voucher for ACME washing detergent - which would you choose? Black Blue

Pink Purple

Q6. You have a voucher for ACME shower gel - which would you choose? Brown Purple

Black

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APPENDICES

Appendix III.

THE GRAPHICS

Economy:

Trust:

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APPENDICES

Cola:

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APPENDICES

Water:

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APPENDICES

Washing powder:

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APPENDICES

Shower gel:

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APPENDICES

Appendix IV.

BRAND PERSONALITY FIGURES

This is the basis of the Brand Personality Model in 4.5.1

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APPENDICES

Appendix V.

STUDY 2 RESULTS

Basic results from questionnaire 2

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APPENDICES

TRUE COLOURS: the power of colour in brands and branding

2

Dissertation final version  

My dissertation, which scored a 1C! Topic: colours and how they affect peoples perceptions of brands and branding.

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