AdvertEYES: Understanding the Value of Perception in Advertising

Have you ever driven by a McDonald’s sign (you know, those giant golden arches forming the shape of an “M,” plastered in front of a fire-engine red backdrop) and instantly felt hungry? What is it about that simple, bright-colored logo that makes the average person feel the sudden urge to devour a burger and fries? With over 20 years of experience in advertising and branding, Morgan Daniels, Associate Creative Director here at Pulsar, understands the process behind choosing color and type-design of a logo. We recently sat down with Morgan to discuss the impact of color in advertising, marketing, and branding and learn marketing strategies from a creative perspective:

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION FOR NEW CREATIVE CAMPAIGNS?
Life. All things in life influence us. For me, it’s my experience in relation to the product and depends on the campaign.

HOW DO YOU DECIDE ON A COLOR OR FONT FOR A PARTICULAR CAMPAIGN?
While font dictates an era, such as a modern, mobility, or 1930’s travel, colors are directly related to emotion. What you want people to feel, (e.g., peaceful, excited, etc.) helps determine the color. Colors have a lot of meaning, but are based on culture.

Color in a different context can have different meanings. They may come from nature. For example, when the average person thinks of “happiness,” they picture a warm, sunny day, which relates to yellow or bright colors. When we think of “peacefulness,” we picture the beach, ocean waves, or sky-gazing, and we think of blue.

Looks pretty relaxing, right?
Looks pretty relaxing, right?

Sometimes colors may come from experience or natural instinct. For example, blue or green may remind us of rotten or mold, which make us think of disgust. Red may touch our predatory-instinct and make us think of meat, which can make us feel hungry.

These are not good or bad, just how we are, which is what makes our work so fascinating.

DO CERTAIN COLORS AFFECT A PERSON’S DECISION OR ACTIONS IN MARKETING?
Absolutely. People from a low socio-economic background (low-income communities) tend to migrate toward brighter colors. People from a higher socio-economic background (wealthy communities) tend to go for more muted colors (i.e., a more simplistic look).

We don’t just choose a color, but we want to use a color based on the target audience’s understanding of it.

IN 20 SECONDS, LIST EVERY SHADE OF BLUE.
Turquoise, Cyan, cerulean, reflex, royal blue, navy blue.

There really aren’t different types of blue, but different saturations of it. In art school I learned how to saturate color by hand-mixing with paint. As a result, I have a greater understanding of tone levels. Colors are a mixture of different reflective light. Don’t think of naming the color, but instead feel its vibe. Blue dominates (the world). It’s the king of color.

Color touches us at our core of memory and experience. We can’t do advertising without an idea of color. The goal is to get people to think a certain way about an idea or product. That’s the key to any kind of marketing.

The vast amount of decisions we make each day are based primarily off of our emotions. We back logic the decisions to make sense of it and give a reason for why we did it. But, more often than not, emotions control us.