When you think of a food ad, what do you think of? Is it a McDonald’s ad with their tall juicy Big Macs and unfeasibly bright green lettuce? Is it the M&S ads with their slow motion roast chicken carving? Or perhaps the Dolmio ad with their wholesome puppety Italian family values?
The chances are that when you start thinking about the food depicted on TV, talked about on radio, you picture that food and undergo a biological reaction as your body starts to crave it. The role of the marketer is to both create the urgency that makes you go out and buy the food or visit that restaurant, and to instil a brand belief in you so that you feel that purchasing that food is a good idea, because the brand resonates with you in some way.
How food is edited in video is a really good indicator of company values – because they tend to push the aspects that they want you to associate with the brand. But how much of that is a true representation of who the brand really is in practice?
For example, a study into consumer psychology and behaviour revealed that consumers are more likely to purchase a cereal bar and believe that they are making a healthy choice when the calorie content is written in green than they are if the calorie content is written in red, even if it’s the same number.
And similarly, we often see TV advertisements of food where the food itself is nothing like the food that you’d receive if you asked for the same meal in a restaurant. This is because enhancers are used to make the food look healthier and more aesthetically pleasing than it actually is.
It’s a marketing tactic that’s as simple as they come, but it works. And once you start noticing it, you realise that it’s everywhere. We asked one of our graphic designers, Olly, about how colour is used to influence potential customers into associating brands with certain values.
How much of a factor is colour when you’re designing an ad?
It’s a major factor, because colours are associated with certain things. For example, luxury products are often depicted in purple, blacks, silvers and gold because they have expensive connotations. When you think of gold, you think of literal gold. It’s as simple as that, even dating back to how expensive dyes traditionally are.
When you’re considering which colours to use, what are the deciding factors?
Competitors are an aspect. Depending on whether you want to stand out or blend in with the marketplace.
I’d also look at UPS, for example if I was marketing a nutritional breakfast bar brand that had nuts ethically sourced from the rainforest, I would want to push that factor and look at doing so with colour and design. It’s essentially about manipulating stereotypes, and causing people to associate your brand with other aspects associated to the colours that you use, be that wealth, happiness or health.
Were you educated on the key connotations of colour when you studied? Can you provide an overview of your teachings?
Everything starts with an idea, why are you doing this? It has to be justified. I.e., why are we using yellow? And specifically, why this yellow; what does this yellow mean? Even within colours there are subcategories which have different connotations. There’s mustard yellow and then there’s sun yellow – and these two hues instil completely different images.
In short, colour is important – but it’s a starting point and it has to work with everything else about the brand if you want to influence spending behaviour.