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Kathy Lamancusa is a trend strategist who tracks the forces shaping the consumer marketplace, and communicates those trend forces through books, articles, on-line publications, and keynote presentations.



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Emotional Reactions to Color by Kathy Lamancusa

Understanding our emotional reaction to color is important in advertising, fashion, product design, graphic design, and architecture. Color plays a major role in mood associations that determine the way we feel about a product. Researchers have shown that up to 60% of a consumer's first impression of a product comes from its color. In fact, color is so important to a product's brand identity that the Supreme Court ruled in 1995 that a particular shade of color, such as Coca-Cola red, could serve as a legally defensible trademark.

When Cheer detergent was introduced in the late 1950s, the company tested three colors of flecks in the product: red, blue, and yellow. Consumers felt that yellow didn't get clothes clean enough and red flecks actually damaged their clothes. Only the blue flecks were said to get clothes cleaner. In reality, the color had no impact on the cleaning power of the detergent — it was all perception. Naturally, Cheer chose the blue flecks and created a long-lasting brand.

Colors also convey messages that go beyond ethnic, racial, or gender boundaries. According to a 1997 survey by Cooper Marketing Group, Oak Park, IL, power is represented by the color scarlet red for 25% of respondents, black for 17% and bright violet blue for 13%. More than 55% of those surveyed chose one of these three colors out of 100 colors. Fragility was most represented by pale pink (27%), white (9%), and pale lavender (9%).

What is America's favorite color? Blue is the top choice for 35% of Americans, followed by green (16%), purple (10%) and red (9%).

How we feel about color:

Red is symbolic of highly charged personal feelings with aggression, danger, and battle on one end and bravery, passion, and love on the other. Red is the first word developed in any language to define a color. Red alerts us to pay attention. It is sexy, provocative, dynamic, stimulating, and exciting.

Pale pink represents the sweetness of youth. Pink foods are perceived as sweet-tasting and sweet-smelling. Vibrant pinks are high spirited and express energy.

The old perception of orange is that it presented itself as cheap and low budget. Today, however, orange has come into its own and is perceived as inviting, friendly, and intense. There are many shades of orange and the deeper tones have seasonal and ethnic connotations while the brighter shades feel tangy and citrusy. Pale shades of peach, apricot, coral and melon are pleasing and sophisticated.

Yellow symbolizes energy. It expresses the brightness and heat of the sun and emulates warmth and light. Yellow can also be perceived as cheerful, mellow, and soft to the touch. Certain shades of yellow, to some personality types are associated with uncertainty and restlessness. Yellow cautions us to be careful. It is the color of ideas and dreams and stimulates creativity and confidence.

Brown connects us with the earth and provides a feeling of substance and stability. Some people perceive brown as dirty and undesirable. Foods such as designer coffees, rich breads and rolls, and grains and rice have increased the positive connection to brown.

Green signifies life. It is sensuous and alive. Green is friendly, dependable, and steady. It represents nature and is soothing, refreshing, and healing. Deeper greens signify money, prestige, and power.

Blue is peaceful and tranquil. We respect deep blue as a sign of law, order, and logic. It is dependable, quiet, serene, restful, and cool. Blues such as periwinkle, electric blue, and brilliant blue become dynamic, dramatic and energizing.

Purple is sensual, spiritual, elegant, and mysterious. It can reflect emotions from contemplative to regal and majestic. It is a combination of the excitement and passion of red and the peaceful tranquility of blue.

Neutral colors include beige, gray, and taupe, but are increasingly being seen with hints of color. They portray a sense of durability, quality and a classic sense of nature and quiet.

White represents purity and simplicity. It portrays the message of clarity and cleanliness. All white rooms, however, can be unsettling and uncomfortable.

Strong, classic and elegant describe our feelings about black. While black is still associated with death and mourning, today, it is also associated with sophistication and strength.

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