Colors (and shapes) of marketing

Every season has its colors. I love driving in New England in the early autumn to appreciate the aesthetics of their foliage with my radio tuned to WCRB, a classical music station. The colorful sights against the background of classical music seems like watching a ballet performance all around me. How can it not cheer me?

Every plate of food has its colors. Many chefs prepare food not only to tease you with the aromas or please your taste buds when eating, but rather to make you conscious of the final presentation of colors on the plate that the various foods represent to the naked eye. How about those fancy desserts with colorful designs mixed on the plate? My favorite restaurant to catch eye candy in all their dishes reflected by stain glass windows is The Abby located in Atlanta. I just wish the lights inside were a little brighter.

Every school has its colors. School Bus Yellow. Red Brick Buildings. Blackboards— although there are electronic whiteboards too!

So does marketing have its colors. You may not realize the psychological impact colors have on our lives. I once played the role of George Washington in Stan Freeberg's 1776 satire where I sang off-key to Betsy Ross while she was creating the American flag: “Take note of the colors you choose...the best you could do I suppose.”

Below is a guide to help you pick out the right colors for your logos, ads, and literature to represent your company. At least you don't have to worry about representing a country.

YELLOW – Stimulating. Expansive. This bright color is frequently used when highlighting knowledge, displaying ideas, and supporting creativity. “School bus” yellow provides great eye-catching appeal to educators. Ads from FirstStudent generate high attention-getting scores!

ORANGE – Reflecting. Pleasant. This warm hue is often seen when a subject is explored in depth or a structure is created. District Administration recently published a customized supplement for Aramark Enterprises called Partners for Progress. “Carrot orange” was effectively used on the cover to symbolize the structure of the healthy choices menu available for schools from this food service division. It may also be used when the intent is to show a “search for solutions.” SolidWorks recently used the color orange quite successfully in their ad as a highlighter to mark classified ads in a newspaper.

RED – Activating. Dynamic. “Seeing red” is effectively used when defining measures, setting rules, and working with emotional topics. Stop sign red cannot be overlooked in Brother International’s recent ad to help promote a special education offer.

BLUE – Concentrating. Restful. This serene color is often utilized when presenting and explaining facts, giving information, and working as an individual unit. Think cool IBM Blue!

GREEN – Harmonizing. Hope. Green is a popular earth color that is great to profile science topics or themes! LeapFrog SchoolHouse uses the color green to grab the reader's attention and match their mascot at the same time.

WHITE – Orderly. Clarifying. Edison Schools has been running black-and-white ads with classic photography in four-color magazines to stand out from the clutter! Extra white space always seems to give an organized feel to a marketing piece. And just for fun…how about those black-and-white cow boxes from Gateway?

You can also use shapes to communicate information about your company’s objective for a particular promotion. Below is a guide using shapes and their effects:

RECTANGLE – This is a popular shape for cards used in visualized discussions (i.e., flash cards). It's also seen when the objective is to explain details.

OVAL – This shape is often used to show headings of clusters and for emotional statements, as in cartoon bubbles.

CIRCLE – This form is used to present ideas to substructure topics and to mark individual contributions. Try using circles next time rather than squares to highlight an educator testimonial with a picture and comments. You’ll be surprised at how effective it will be.

RHOMBUS – This quadrilateral shape is an effective way to illustrate structures and show interdependence between topics. It’s ideal for publishers to display teaching across the curriculum.

HEXAGON – This six-sided shape can illustrate variations of a topic by clustering them as a honeycomb to explain ideas or profile solutions.

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