Color’s Role in Business Communications

Did you know that there is a blog entirely focused on color combinations, and that they have over two million different color palates listed? I am in awe! When I discovered this site, the first thing that I thought of was how much we take color for granted today, at least in business communications. It wasn’t that long ago that our business and home printers could only print in black and white. Just like the evolution of television sets, black and white was first, followed by color.

If you are not leveraging color to your advantage in your marketing communications, then I would propose that you are not using every available option to make your content stand out.

Some colors clearly have a connotation tied to them. Take “green” as an example … we all know what it means to be green with regards to sustainability and recycling. As a marketer, your use of green should not contradict any pre-conceived notions your target audience already has about what green means.

I have always been puzzled why so many businesses believe that “blue” is the best color to use in logos and other communications. The belief is that blue is a color that indicates being serious about your business. Maybe this is an evolution from IBM being portrayed as “big blue,” and that the largest stocks in the NYSE are considered “blue chip” companies. I have read that from a psychological perspective, the color blue connotes a feeling of warmth and strength, and can indicate confidence, reliability and responsibility. These seem all good attributes to be part of a successful business brand.

“What has brown done for you?” is one of the more memorable ad campaigns that UPS has executed upon, which was clearly focused on associating their brown trucks to their business. This was a brilliant communications program – it could not be copied, had an element of humor and reinforced their brand. In fact, the phrase was a tagline at one time. Sadly, it appears they have ventured away from that phrase to something more generic and boring. Here is a link to one of their better ads.

For those of you selling to the women’s market, “pink ” has to be one of your favorite colors. It is the international color of girls, and is quickly recognized as representative of products and services tied to this market. In some respects, “blue” is also associated to boys, at least as infants or toddlers, but, once we grow up, not so much!

For those of you who are interested, here is a link to a great color blog post that talks about all of the other psychological color connotations and meanings, which will let you gain better perspective on what non-spoken communications are tied to your choice of color.

What is important to understand is that each color has a reference point and a connotation that already exists in your target audience. As a marketer, it is our responsibility to be aware of these pre-conceived notions to be sure we leverage the right color for the right business communication.

Gordon Benzie is a marketing adviser and business plan writer that specializes in preparing and executing upon business plans and marketing strategies. Gordon can be found on Google+.

When Taking a Step Backward can Yield an Innovative Business Plan

Carbon-free Landscape RemovalI read a most interesting article today in the Wall Street Journal about a business start up in Chapel Hill, N.C. called What they offer is a completely environmentally friendly way for home and business owners to clear fields of unwanted shrubbery, grasses and any other prickly plants that need to be removed. What is remarkable is that this company has figured out a way to execute upon a business plan first launched thousands of years ago, and still make money today.

As I read further, I learned that Google has hired a similar company to clear their corporate campus of un-needed plants. Other end users include the Vanderbilt estate, where goats were hired for $9,000 to clear seven hilly acres, according to Dave Hayes, the estate’s natural-resource program manager. See the video. Apparently this price tag was two-thirds the cost to hire workers to do the same job … with a zero carbon footprint!

This story is an excellent example of how technological progress and innovation can sometimes take a “U” turn, especially when the social green movement is involved, despite the typical technology innovation cycle we so commonly see and write about (see my prior post on how technology innovation can be treated as a constant). Goes to show that there are no true constants in life, but some highly probably outcomes!

When seeking a business plan writer or preparing a strategic marketing plan, at times it can be helpful to take a completely opposite perspective with regards to what your new service or product should be. This strategy can be quite effective in markets and industries where a growing backlash is starting to gain momentum.

A good example of a business plan that has taken advantage of going “against the mainstream” is the latest offering from Knock Knock, a Los Angeles-based company that sells specialty paper products. They are now offering paper tweet pads, which limit you to a message of 140 characters that you can write down on a piece of paper. Their messaging in the product descriptions is quite good:  “Get on the social networking bandwagon with a cutting-edge notepad! The wireless miracle of pen and paper will have you expressing your mundane, or even pressing, thoughts anytime, anywhere!” In a way, they are making fun at all the notoriety and excitement around Twitter, and becoming just the opposite, pointing out that good old fashioned pen and paper is not a bad communications medium.

It turns out that maybe change is the only constant, rather than always counting on technology to drive innovation. Taking a step backward after several strides forward gives us a pause and time for reflection. People are always looking for something new and improved; the “new” maybe simply an old idea that has now gained new awareness and a fresh perspective.
Gordon Benzie is a marketing adviser and business plan writer that specializes in preparing and executing upon business plans and marketing strategies. Gordon can be found on Google+.