Visualise a soft drink can in signature red with a white swirl and you instinctively think of Coco-Cola. How about a sleek, simple white box seen in a high-tech shop? Most people will associate that with Apple. Or the deep purple of a chocolate bar – the first thing that comes to mind is Cadbury.
The often-undervalued role of colour in packaging design is extremely important, whether as a brand recognition tool or an attention-grabbing device. But how can colour be used to increase the appeal and desire of a product?
One of the most adhered to theories for brands and retailers is the seven-second rule, which holds that people make vital decisions within the first seven seconds of being introduced to a product. What happens in that brief time can either create long-term consumer loyalty or put potential customers off for good.
As most consumers’ first contact is with the packaging rather than the product itself, packaging design is often just as important as what it contains – shaping perception from the very beginning of the purchasing journey.
Colour is often one of the first things people notice and plays a vital role in this early engagement process, from text and illustrations to graphics and imagery. According to a survey carried out by contract packers WePack, nearly 40 per cent of people questioned said that colour was the most appealing feature of packaging while a quarter said that imagery caught their eye the most.
The importance of colour in increasing conversions through packaging design therefore cannot be underestimated.
Not only does colour help a product to stand out, it also creates connections with consumers. One of the ways to harness this is to understand the psychology of colour, as certain hues stimulate positive emotions while poor colour choice can negatively affect the message’s impact. Get this component wrong and great design work can be easily overlooked.
Red for example is a strong category identifier, representing emotions such as love, passion, energy, anger and danger. Blue on the other hand is often associated with trust, calm, faith and integrity, while green suggests eco-friendliness, environment, safety and freshness. Alternatively, orange stands out as youthful, happy and engaging.
When choosing colours, brands and retailers should keep in mind the following points:
1. Keep it simple. People like simplicity and it makes packaging easier to understand. Limiting your palette to 2 or 3 complementary colours keeps messaging clear, whereas using too many can make the design confusing – affecting sales and brand identity.
2. Contrast. Using contrasting colours can enhance packaging, but it is important that they complement each other and maintain tonal integrity. Packaging designers can test out colour contrast by turning them into greyscale and reviewing their coordination.
3. Target market. When picking colours, keep the target market in mind. Studies have shown that, generally speaking, men tend to favour bold colours and shades, whereas women are more receptive to tints of colours. But it’s not just about gender – multiple factors from age demographics and cultural perception to type of product and market sector should be kept in mind.
Successful colour use in a product’s branding relies not only on selecting the right hue, but also on consistently producing it time after time. The right colour palette, distinctive graphics and brand identity can eventually become iconic if reliably maintained.
Producing that consistency depends on the types of inks, their lay down and the plates used to print the packaging. Creation is committed to delivering excellence in packaging artwork, reprographics, screen and polymer plate manufacturing and uses only the very best colour technology to ensure tonal continuity.
Through effective and reliable colour management, Creation helps brands and retailers to meet their colour quality needs. The company’s scientific approach to the measurement and control of colour critical press and print data is key to this success, maintaining premium standards throughout the entire design to printing journey.
With the marketplace busier than ever before and more products competing for shelf space, effective packaging design and colour choices are crucial to each and every product’s success. Skilfully executed packaging grabs consumers’ attention and motivates them to engage with the product, giving brands those precious ‘buying power’ seconds.
The product is just one part of the equation – the packaging and its use of colour is just as important.
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