Colour Psychology with Karen Haller
Karen is the leading expert in applied colour and design psychology helping businesses and design professionals to use colour and design to improve well-being, support mental health and create positive change in the world.
She is the author of the best selling book The Little Book of Colour - How to Use the Psychology of Colour to Transform Your Life. It's a revolutionary guide to boosting your wellbeing, putting you firmly in the driver's seat and on the road to changing the colours in your world to boost your mood, increase your motivation and change how you feel in an instant.
In this episode, Karen discusses colour psychology, how colour influences how we think, how we feel, and how we behave. She gives her perspective on how colour should be used in branding, and that it should align with the brand personality, and values to influence buyers. This episode covers:
- Association of brand values with colour
- Case examples on a brand that's misaligned with the colour
- How colour can be associated with a demographic or an age group
- How to create a brand from within and out
- Colour as emotion — how it makes people stop and think why they are in business
- Finding the right colour for a brand — a colour that best represents a brand & the best reflectional representation of that brand
- Karen’s point of view about McDonald's green brand colour
Karen Haller: So we have the brand, and the brand and we have the story of the brand. We have the brand text, you know what we read. But what we always connect you first are the colours. And we are having an emotional experience already when we see the colours before we've read any words.
Shireen Smith: Hello, and welcome to the Brand Tuned podcast, which discusses all things brand related, including the essential trademark and IP dimension. I'm your host, Shireen Smith, IP lawyer, Brand Manager, and author of Brand Tuned The New Rules of Branding Strategy and Intellectual Property. Before the episode begins, I just want to mention the brand tuned accreditation course, which is in the pipeline, it will cover how to create a brand strategy, taking account of intellectual property as it arises during the process. brand protection considerations impact the choice of names or other brand identifiers. So to make better branding decisions, register your interest brandtuned.com. The link is in the show notes.
Karen Haller is an applied colour Psychology specialist who supports designers on use of colour in their designs. She's also the author of the best selling book, The Little Book of colour, how to use the psychology of colour to transform your life, published in 2019 by Penguin, Karren welcome to the brand tuned podcast. Please tell us a bit more about yourself.
Karen Haller: Oh, great. Well, thank you. I've, I've been I'm actually a fan of your podcast, and I watched some of your other go listen to some of your other colour podcast. So I'm really thrilled to actually have a chance to chat with you. Because I have questions I want to ask you as well. So I think interesting. I've got an interesting conversation. But yeah, I don't know what else to say. Thank you for the nice introduction. I mean, I'm originally from Australia. I've been over in the UK now for probably about 20 years. And I lived in Europe before then. But yet colour psychology and design of colour and design psychology really is my you know, could say that's my life. It's my world. It's it's the work that I do. So I'm very much about using colour and design to bring about positive change and to really use it to influence positive behaviours. So I work with companies and brands and people who very much have that same ethos.
Shireen Smith: Okay, so you mentioned that you work with graphic designers when we were chatting by email, in branding. So my thought is a graphic designers not trained in colour. I mean, what more can you explain to them about colour that they haven't learned to already do? Right?
Karen Haller: So I work with many different designers, in fact, because I run my own colour and design training courses. And it's something that I noticed when I did interior design training when I did a lot of my other sort of when I did millenary when I did fashion design, when I was back in Australia is that colour is normally half a day. And it's normally just the colour wheel. And you can learn the colour wheel probably in about 10 minutes. I mean, it is that quick. Yeah, but that's not colour training. And I use straightaway out of the out of the gate, you've asked me a question that's going to probably put me put me in trouble straightaway. But colour training has not evolved, it hasn't moved on. And if someone does a degree for three years, or they might do a graphic design degree, or course usually half a day is what they get on colour. Which is a real shame because there is so much more to it. And so that's why when I'm when I work with colour, I work in a very, very different way to what is what is typically trained. And I know you know, I've spoken at universities, I've lectured I've given courses, university students, and it is very different to what they get taught.
Shireen Smith: Okay, can you give us a sort of peek into what colour psychology actually involves, you know, when you're working with designers, so?
Karen Haller: Yeah, so like for branding? Yeah. So, colour Psychology just in its very simplest form is how colour influences how we think how we feel and how we behave. We taking colour before anything else, we are having an emotive experience, we can't help but feel something have an emotional experience that affects our mood affects how we feel. But more importantly, it affects our behavior and has an impact on that. And colour can change any of those things, how we think, feel behave in an instant. And that's very much what I focus on is how can we use colour, because you can use colour for evil, right, you can use colour in bad ways. But I use colour, because for me, it's all about positive good and positive change. And when it comes to branding, because branding is really an artificial construct it is, we can make up a brand, we can create a whole brand personality, we can create all the values or the ethics, everything around it is it is artificial. So we have the brand, and the brand. And we have the story of the brand, we have the brand text, you know what we read, but what we always connect you first are the colours. And we are having an emotional experience already when we see the colours before we've read any words. So we're already emotionally connected. And then we read the words. And the words need to back up what we're feeling. This is where we have a brand that is in alignment. Because what we're doing as consumers potential customers is saying, this brand gets me this brain understands me, this is my this is for me, and then we're more likely to find out more we're more likely to buy from them. And this is what I do I look at the emotional message of the brand. But and I have a whole framework that I work with and a process to do the analysis of what the brand is who the what the you know, from the inside, like the authentic brand personality. And then I look at what the colour palette is for that and how the what colours would do represent what the brand is saying.
Shireen Smith: Okay.
Karen Haller: Yep.
Shireen Smith: Okay, so do you have any case examples you could share of maybe a brand that's misaligned with the colour I mean.
Karen Haller: I'd have to say that's, that's, maybe I'll do that I have to actually do a full analysis on that brand. Okay, um, but a brand, you know, I'm just going to pick a brand that everyone knows, because I think I might, it might be an example I can use as we as we continue talking, McDonald's picked, you know, that they're red, and the yellow is a very vibrant red and yellow, it's a very happy red and yellow. It is not a rust red and a saffron. You know, it's not a dull, it's got a lot of energy. Now, these colours that are very bright, that have a lot of this stimulating, they're highly saturated colours, attract children, children love bright colours, okay? Now yellow in psychology is the colour of happiness. It's the colour of change cheeriness. It's, it's like, you know, it's like when we see the sunshine, right? Red is the colour of motivation, it gets your energy going. It's very active, very energizing, in the context of McDonald's with these two together, what they want you they want the children to be really excited to be able to beat to go when they're in there. They are a fast food business. So the idea is they don't want you to linger. They want you in, they want you to eat and they want you out because their model is a high turnover. But they want the children to have a really joyful and fun experience because they want them to keep coming back.
Shireen Smith: Right. Okay.
Karen Haller: Very, very, as I say it's very different. And I'm sure we can talk about later to the McDonald's that that is the green McDonald's very, very different because they're after a different target market. And it's a very different proposition. So the colours actually tell you how to behave in that space.
Shireen Smith: That's interesting. So say you want to launch a restaurant business and you really like you want to avoid using the same colours as McDonald's because McDonald's is already using them. Would you not be able to evoke the same feeling of happiness and energy through another colour combination of colours must be red and yellow in other words.
Karen Haller: You could, however, I always work. I work from a different angle I look at always who the brand is who They are authentically. Because at the end of the day, the brand has to be able to uphold their values, they have to be able to come, they have to be able to operate from their personality from their ethics. If you are just trying to show up a certain way, you won't know how to behave that way. Because it's not, it might not be who your brand is, to me, that's a very old way of branding is like, let's look like someone or let's try and look different to them. That's all very external. I'm very much looking to do branding, completely different way. Showing from the inside out. So it's always about doing that analysis piece first. It's very much like an accountant. I can't give my accounts or accountancy, is this final figure? Correct? They have to go through everything to make sure that's exactly what I do. I go through everything about the brand. Because the colours and the design style. With the knowledge that I have in colour design psychology, the answer pops out at the end from the analysis. I don't, I don't influence it any way. The information I'm given from the analysis will say what those colours are.
Shireen Smith: Right. So obviously, it starts from the inside out. To what extent does the business owner's preference for colour influence what they should use? So if I love yellow, for example, and my brand, we've worked out what my brand is all about, etc? Is it possible that you might say actually, yellow isn't the right colour for you to use?
Karen Haller: Yeah, because I don't talk about colour at all because if you talk about colour, you are down a slippery, emotional slope that you won't get out of colour doesn't even come until I've done the full analysis. I don't even know how I don't look, I don't look at the competitors. What I want is the ideal pure analysis of the brands we have a baseline to work from. If at that point, you said you know what my favourite colours yellow, we have a conversation about your favourite colour. So that you understand, actually it's about you, but it's might not be about your brand and it might not be representative of what your brand stands for. And the clients or the target market you're aiming for because some sometimes that is it, you know, we separate this.
Shireen Smith: So how do you once you've understood the brand and what somebody wants to produce, what their brand belief is all that? Well, how do you then decide what colour would be in alignment with the brand that they want to create?
Karen Haller: Oh it was that's my, that's my secret skill. I see that. I mean, that's my years and years and years of colour and design, colour and design psychology training. That is when I take all of that knowledge, and I'm able to analyze all the information. So, you know, that's the that's like you you have?
Shireen Smith: Okay, that's your secret sauce?
Karen Haller: Well, it's you know, we wouldn't be sitting here for the next year me explaining how I do my work. You know, it's like, you know, everybody, everybody who does who is skilled in what they do that is then when they apply their knowledge. And that's that is that bit. Yeah.
Shireen Smith: Okay. Right. So what do you take into account? Do you do any competitor analysis? Are you aware of who the audience is, when you're going to choose colours for the brand.
Karen Haller: I don't do any of that to begin with, because I want a pure baseline from what the analysis is, this is what this is the colours and the design style, that the analysis is saying, from this point, now we have a good solid baseline. Now we look at the work and also we've already looked at we've looked at the competitor sorry, the target market, as well. So we know that the brand that it's as the analysis says is actually right for this target market that you have already got or that you're you're aiming for then at that because then that's that's a baseline point. Then we start looking at the competitors, then we look and see who is already using the colours in your in your industry. Now, this isn't this because this is now coming into your field, right? So this that part, I am not the expert in I don't go and trawl through and look for every single competitor. The business owner knows their market. And I say to them, who are your competitors who you're aware of? Are you just writing in the in the UK are you worldwide, these are sorts of things that you now need to consider. And if you need a lawyer for this, I would recommend that you go and speak to a lawyer, I probably already know where my boundaries are, you know.
Shireen Smith: But if you're working with a designer, there's going to be quite a lot of overlap, because they're going to be working on brand strategy in terms of understanding what the brand should be. So if you're working with a designer, you know, there's some element of going to be a duplication because
Karen Haller: We've already had that conversation, a lot of people I bring, I often when I do branding, I bring my own graphic designer in. So they know how I work and we work very well together. Because I actually take a lot of the work off them, it makes their life much easier, because I already come with the brief, I come with analysis and with the brief, and they're able to follow the brief and they interpret that so they find it much easier. If somebody just brings me on and I say, have you got a graphic designer, I say this is what I do. This is when you bring me on, this is what I do, make sure that your designer doesn't double up. And also, you need to let them know that I'm doing this piece that I am actually, I'm coming up with the colours and the design style, because not all graphic designers want to work that way they want to be able to, they want to be able to choose the colours themselves. So it is really it's about having that communication, clear communication with the business owner. And with the graphic designer. But I often work with my own and that way, it's very seamless.
Shireen Smith: Okay. So you work with business owners to help them with their brand rather than with designers.
Karen Haller: Oh, no, because the designer doesn't know. The designer doesn't know a business owners brand. Only the business owner knows.
Shireen Smith: Yeah, but the designer will have had some conversations and not always the brand strategy.
Karen Haller: No, a lot of them come straight to me. Yeah.
Shireen Smith: They want to get into strategy. So they won't cover all of that. Yeah, they wanted to involve you. Could they not briefed you on what the brand is to be based on what they've understood?
Karen Haller: Yeah, as long as I have all the information that I need, there's certain criteria that I need. And if it's not in the, the information that I get from the graphic designer, I will need to speak to the business owner, because I can't do it unless I've got all the information I need. But what I work purely on what is given to me, if there are gaps in that information, I don't guess I work in detail. I'm really detailed. So I need the detail in because the devil is in the detail.
Shireen Smith: But you could be briefed and then have a conversation as well. With the business owner.
Karen Haller: Yeah, to get all the information I need. And then I can do my analysis. Yeah.
Shireen Smith: Okay. So say, you know, in corporate life blue is often used by many, many companies, and you don't want to be yet another blue brand. Do you help somebody to come up with an alternative colour, you know, that's going to stand out and be different to what everyone else is using in an industry?
Karen Haller: Well, you can stand out and be different, but if colour has a meaning, and every colour has a meaning, and that meaning does not relate to your brand. If there is any confusion, people will turn around and go well I'm confused. Like they'll do this subconsciously and then they won't, they won't believe them. If a if a financial break if if a financial you know, company wants to look different, doesn't want to use blue. And they use orange and yellow, because they want to really stand out yet. In the text, they say that their attention to detail that they you know, take you know, they take everything seriously, that you could you can trust us all of these things. Well, that's not what yellow and orange is saying. Yellow and orange is playful, mischievous. It's fun, it's happy, it's joyful. And you're like, Hold on, I don't know if I believe them. How do I trust them because now people won't be saying this. They'll be feeling it.
Shireen Smith: Right feel a disconnect.
Karen Haller: They'll feel the disconnect and when that when this is not in alignment. This is where confusion doesn't sell. You know, you can't sell confusion. People will just go, oh, it's not for me, and they'll go and look somewhere else. This is why it's not about picking any colour to stand out, it is picking, picking the colours that actually represent who your brand is and what your brand stands for.
Shireen Smith: But there are lots of different shades of colours. And what there's only, I don't know, five primary colours.
Karen Haller: 11 main colours, but there are what hues, I should say that correctly. There's 11 main hues, but off each hue, so off red are 1000s of red colours. 1000s of blues 1000s of greens. So yes, it is picking the actual and that's one of my skills is picking the is it a sage green grass green, a lime green, a bottle green, an emerald greener, which is the right grain that is my that's a part of this my skill. And what I do is, if the brand from the analysis screen is in there it is which green? And not only that, but what's the intensity? Is that a very soft, soothing? Is it a mid tone? Or is it a really deep, stimulating saturated colour? What's the proportion of that colour? How much of that colour is actually used to give the message of the brand? So this is everything? This is what I do?
Shireen Smith: So isn't there a danger than if somebody wants to be green and environmentally friendly that you will end up choosing a shade of green? And they're all going to have some form of green? All the businesses in that area?
Karen Haller: Yes, but that's what that first yes, that's a very, it's a very real problem, because it's called greenwashing. A lot of brands want to look a certain way. So the way they shortcut that is through, they use colour as a language because it is it's a language without having to use words. So if you see a brand that's got a lot of green, there is an instant association of they must be natural, they must be organic, maybe they're environmentally friendly. You know, we have these connotations already. But there is also a backlash for that now, and it's called greenwashing. And so a lot of brands that are using it, there is a mistrust. Are you trying to pretend that you're gonna, you'll know this better than me. But there is something that you can, how do I even say this, you can use certain words in marketing, I think without it, whether I'm going to say this completely wrong without having to prove it. So you can say that your natural, there's words that you can use. If you use the word natural, along with green, people will think the product is natural, but it doesn't doesn't necessarily have to be. So there's a lot of misalignment there. And there is a lot of mistrust that is happening around that. Yeah.
Shireen Smith: But assuming it is a really ethical business that we green, the problem from a sort of trademark point of view, if a business ever wanted to own a colour is that if you're using an industry colour, but it's pretty impossible, really to stand out, and but how about a company like orange that has effectively it's called Orange, they've trademarked orange and their telecoms business. Do you think of that?
Karen Haller: I think it's clever marketing. That's clever because they have found a way to stand out. But also, I would then want to look at the brand and go, I'm expecting a certain kind of service from Orange. I'm expecting really friendly customer service. I'm not expecting anything draconian, old fashioned, dull, boring. I'm expecting really happy lively, a really fun engaged and really, really fantastic and great customer service. And they should be so hot on their customer service using orange. I mean, EasyJet? Right. Yeah, holidays. Well, having fun holidays, there was a stage when they and this is a personal view. There's a stage when I wait when the flight attendants and the chicken staff are really surly, and really not happy and miserable. And I will sit and stand there and just go gee, you know, it's not what you would expect from this brand. You'd it's cheap and cheerful. Right? That's orange, orange, just cheap and cheerful and also friendly. I think they did some work on their customer service because then it did improve but there was a stage and I just went oh gosh, you are so off your brand values. I didn't say that to them. I said it to myself.
Shireen Smith: You associate the brand values from the colour you see. So there There is some element of expectation is can you not help people with that sort of, in terms of if a designer came to you and said, This is what we've created? Now, what does that? How does that speak to you and then hear from you?
Karen Haller: Right? What is isn't that doing it the wrong way around, because that means if I said, these are your brand values, that means everybody has to morph and try and no more companies mean into the values.
Shireen Smith: It means that they can have a quick way of assessing whether to an expert like you who understands colour, there is any misalignment between what they're doing and what the colour speaks to you.
Karen Haller: Or I could read, I could read the review their analysis, and I can look at the colour. And if there's anything missing, I have to find out those answers because I just that's in the detail. And then I can say whether there's a mismatch or not, but I can't just look at a colour and go, Oh, the values for your company should be this, this and this. And this. It's that's just, that's just back the front.
Shireen Smith: Well, what do you think of Apple? Because Apple, I think it's just black and white, they don't actually have a colour. Do they?
Karen Haller: Like to silver for a while, I think, yeah. Even wide, but they're very much about innovation. They want to be the futuristic leaders, they're they want to be the brand that everyone else aspires to be, and everyone else wants to try and catch up with. So their brand colours, actually, there's no compromise with Apple. You could say, because a lot of people will say that they phones, you know, there's always a lot of problems with the phones. But we'll put that aside. The brand itself, that is what it's that's that's what it wants to say whether you believe that or not. But it was very much what Steve Jobs, I believe from everything I've written a read about him. That's that was his whole thing. It was always about innovation, innovation. And so the brand very much has that has that message. And it's and it's believable.
Shireen Smith: So what do you think of pink being associated with women and blue with men? And what's your take on that?
Karen Haller: Oh, right. So blue, pink for girls and blue for boys. This is a cultural belief. Now back in, before the 1940s, it was actually cultural, cultural to have acceptable to have blue for boys sorry, pink for boys and blue for girls, really, because pink is the lighter version of red. And so red was seen as a very masculine colour. And pink is a lighter version. So it was actually boys wore pink, and young and little girls wore blue.
Then in I think was about the 1940s there was an American department store, who did a big colour campaign and switched it. Now, if we as people see colour, done in a certain way, enough times, and we are told enough times, it is human nature then to start believing it. Yeah. So we then believe that pink for girls blue for boys, then manufacturers, well, happy days, because then their life was easy. They just made everything and pink and everything in blue. And then the whole pink backlash happened. You know, pretty much I think probably in the early noughties, massive, massive pink backlash, you know, those pink, I've written so many articles on pink and pink women's relationship with pink.
Yeah, I could talk to you for the rest of the podcast on this. But that is what can happen is that a colour can be associated to a demographic to an age group. And because we see it enough times we then end up believing it and then that can be which is what happened is a massive a big big backlash.
Shireen Smith: Right? So if you are creating a brand for women, would you almost need to use pink to signify that you are for women?
Karen Haller: No, no, not necessarily. It's again, who the brand is there are many different if you think of a lot of different female brands, clothing brands, they have all their own personalities. You know they Victoria Beckham will design in a certain style in a certain way and use a certain colour palette. The La Senza is very very different. Jay Norman is different, again, Marks and Spencers. Everybody has their own demographic, their own brand personality, but the demographic that they're designing for and also their own design style. And then there are the colours that they believe will sell.
Shireen Smith: Sure, yeah I'm thinking more if you've got a platform, and you're not really designing anything, but you just want to signify when people go to the website.
Karen Haller: Not necessarily, because again, it would be what is the who the brand is and who your target market is, pink can turn a lot of women off, but a soft baby pink, likely to but maybe magenta pink wouldn't, because a lot of women actually see this as being the grown ups version of pink, the women's version of grown ups, you know, version. So that could be if there was a pink that was being used, but then this dusty, kind of warm, dirty pink is becoming very popular, what you don't want to do is forever be changing your branding, because your market is changing, or because the colour is changing. The otherwise your target market keeps moving. You're rebranding, this is why I advocate to work out the brand or create the brand from within and out instead of trying to find something out there, and then always chasing this thing that is likely to change. Yeah, absolutely.
Shireen Smith: I mean, you can be customer centric in terms of understanding the market. But you don't need to change your brand to fit with the latest trends, markets, you know, you have some sort of essential brand belief that guides you. I agree. So if if you are helping business owners who have an existing brand, what's involved if they want to come and work with you to see whether the comments are right or not? What's your process?
Karen Haller: Oh, that's where I again, I start from the very beginning,
Shireen Smith: how long does it take, how many meetings from what is it?
Karen Haller: Oh it can be very quick, or like a brand I'm working on at the moment, it's taking a long time, because we have uncovered it uncovered so many things that they now want to go work on. So yeah, I do.
Shireen Smith: So it depends how clear they are to begin with about their own brand. Yeah.
Karen Haller: And a lot of people actually, I don't, you've probably come across this as well. A lot of people don't know why they're in business. They're just very good at what they do. But they don't know why they're in business. They don't know their big why they don't know why they're doing something other than their selling. They don't actually, they that they're quite often very clear on the logical rational side of the business, but not on the emotive side or the side that connects what what emotionally connects their customers to them. For there's usually something missing. And so there is a self discovery, you know, something that they will do within their company, for them to realize, actually, this is why we're in business. This is what we stand for.
And with a brand I'm working with at the moment, because they want to change the colours of their products. I recommend to them that they do market research piece with existing customers, but also new potential customers. And I help with the questions but I don't do the market research because that is not my area of expertise. But they've decided to go down that route because they said that they really just want to uncover everything so it could be done the whole you know the analysis if they're if they know their brand really clearly that could be done in a day because they could come you know I could ask them all the questions we could flush everything out. I can look at the colours and go yep, what you what you have here is what you're saying this is an alignment or you just need to just I would just tweak this colour make it a bit lighter, make it a bit more intense, I would change the proportion and sometimes it is as quick and as simple as that and other times it is you know you're taking the whole engine out of the car and you are going through every piece who yeah, figures and that takes as long as the one the brain and work at the moment. I honestly thought it would only be a couple of weeks and so far it's been a couple of months because they've just gone we want to look at everything we are then leaving no stone unturned and I go on with them.
Shireen Smith: Yeah, it can be almost like therapy content for people to
Karen Haller: Yeah, yeah, in a way. I mean, because colour is emotion so it can bring up, it can bring up stuff. But also it really makes people stop and think why they are in business. And it's not, you know, because I always want, you know, one of my aims is to connect them to the bigger higher purpose. What's your big vision? what's your what's your big why are you know, is it Steven Steven, Simon Sinek always say his name incorrectly? You know, your big why. And a lot of brands don't know why they're in business. So I say that two really good place to start. For you to know because when you're really clear on your brand values and who your brand is, it means that you can show up for your brand. And anybody that you hire, anyone that you bring in, you can teach skill, but you can't teach attitude. So that you can hire on people who have the values that competent not compliment that you know, that match your brand. So that you're know you're hiring the right staff, and then you can teach them on the skill.
Shireen Smith: Okay, so I'm getting the impression then that there is a right colour for each brand.
Karen Haller: Yeah, this there is a is a right, there is a colour that best represents each brand. Yeah. colours, combination of colours. That would be the best reflectional representation in of that brand. Yeah.
Shireen Smith: Well, that. And you haven't got any case studies of brands that are up but you know, and can say, Well, I think they are out of alignment or in a line. Well
Karen Haller: See if you'd asked me before I would have gone and done some research. I would have gone but no, it's not fair for me to do that. Because I don't know their brand. They've not asked me to come in and brands that I have done this for that undermine that standard, an NDA. So I you know, I'm not. I'm not willing to do that. But I will talk about what I thought about McDonald's. I mean, when they changed to green,
Shireen Smith: Have they changed to green, I thought they?
Karen Haller: They had all their stores in town centres.
Shireen Smith: Really? They signify movement towards fresh foods?
Karen Haller: Yeah, well, this is what yet, right? So and this is my view, this is a big one. I will make sure legally I can say this. So this is purely just my view. I mean, they started doing this, I don't know maybe five years ago or even longer. And when and the green, their pictures are really sludgy green. And I looked at my work oh, why didn't you ask me because it's not a fresh green. It's not a living green.
One end of green is about new beginnings, new growth, new life, like what we would see in springtime. But when you but when green dies, it gets very sludgy, very muddy, very dirty, it's decay and death. Right now the green the McDonald's picked is so on that border cast and I looked and I thought, okay, what are McDonald's trying to do here? And this is at the time when they're talking about that they're moving to more, you know, I don't know if they use even use the word organic but more natural, they're caring about the environment more. And, and all of these kinds of things. And when they first started, there was a lot of talk about McDonald's are just trying to make out as if they're more natural, and they're trying to save the planet, and doing all this greenwashing. Then as the years went by, because McDonald's kept on that message, and they kept on with the colour. People then stopped thinking that sorry, my chairs, that's my chair keeps on making the sandwich on my move. I've got I want a squeaky chair. Um, so yeah, over the years, people then started to believe that because it was becoming so commonplace, and I think when people hear something often enough, they believe it's true. So that I think is what was happening with McDonald's.
Also, I believe that McDonald's had a whole demographic, whole demographic age range, I should say that grew up. There were kids, now they're adults. They're not going to want to sit in with one on McDonald's, yellow and red. So how do they keep that market? How do they keep all of those loyal customers now that they've grown up? Well, you create an environment where they want to be but it's still familiar McDonald's, so green and browns and wards because now they can go in and they can sit and they can have a coffee. A cup of coffee and they don't have to rush, you can sit in there and relax. And that is what those colours are telling the telling you can do. Whereas when you're in red and yellow, fast, fast, quick, quick, I've got to get out, I can't relax. In fact, those colours won't let you relax, because red is physically stimulating. So it's actually raising the pulse rate where green is, on the whole, I mean, not mine greens or bright greens, but on the whole green is very soothing, it's very relaxing, and you more wants to sit and relax. And that is what the green, you know, Madonna's with the green facade, that is what it's saying. It's saying to come in and relax. And I believe that they're trying to hold on to this older, you know, their older market. But also I was thinking, Ah, maybe they're trying to get a bit of market from Starbucks, because that's also green, a very different green, that maybe that's what they're trying to do as well. So that was my analysis. You know, in a nutshell about McDonald's moving to green. Also, the other big thing with the new green McDonald's is that they are all now electronic, you know, they've got the big screens where you go up in your order. People also associate the green with that as well. So that's another thing but it very much is what the colour is inviting you to do. Which is to come in, get your coffee, get something to eat and relax, you don't have to rush.
Shireen Smith: They still obviously have the young, the new generation of kids who would be attracted by the red and the yellow.
Karen Haller: Well, that's where they get when they go onto the highway, or that's when they go out. And they go to those ones. And they take the kids.
Shireen Smith: Yep. Interesting. Well, thank you very much, Karen, is there a book that you would particularly recommend apart from your own for people who want to find out more about, you know, colour, follow psychology, etc?
Karen Haller: Well, the only other one is my teachers, which is the introduction to colour Psychology, her name is Angela Rice. She's one of my teachers, but no, there is not enough out there. There is not enough work out there. So there isn't anybody who has written a book that I know of, which is a shame, because I'm, I'm a huge advocate for this. And I feel like sometimes I'm talking in the wind, and then I get lovely people like you that want to chat to me about colour. So um, but I have a, I have a free ebook people can download off my website, currently. To the yeah, I've got that but the other, and then then then then there will just be other books on branding that, like Simon, Simon yet, Simon Sinek. You know, there's, there's lots of good books out there on branding of how to really get to the authentic personality, this thick, thin, thick heart how to very much come from within not go, Oh, who's your target market? Alright, let's, let's now create a whole brand that is that is appealing to that target market that that? You know that's, that's, that's the old paradigm. It's the old way of doing it. Um, you know, which, you know, if your brain was an animal, what animal would it be? You know, that's, that's 1980s. You know, we have to move on from this and very much get to the emotion, the heart, the soul, the authenticity of the brand.
Shireen Smith: Yeah. I mean, branding is generally a very mixed up area, I've, when I tried to learn about it, there's just so many different views and much jargon. So you have to form your own view about it. And definitely, I agree with you, it's about the founders, what they want to create, that's really important.
Karen Haller: Because they live and breathe it right. And they have to be able to uphold it.
Shireen Smith: And if you're an older brand, then you've got to go back to your heritage and see, what were they trying to do when they created this brand?
Karen Haller: Yeah, and also how it's updated, because there's when I do work with very established brands, and I say, How did you get to this place now? And what is your what, where did you start and what was the what was what did the founder, what was their vision? A lot of the times they don't know, they've just had different CEOs or different managers come in, everyone's put their own stamp on it and what you end up getting is, you know, half donkey, half, giraffe, half, tiger, whatever, you know, I mean, it's like it's not an animal, and you can't, and it's like, well, who Are you because now there is so much confusion? Even your customers don't know who you are? Yeah. And what often happens is that because there might be new, a new brand comes along, oh, they've got that target market quick, we've got to get that as well. So let's morph ourselves a bit, oh, here's another target market, let's move ourselves. And before you know it, there just is it's a complete mess instead of going, This is who we are, this is what we stand for. And we know who our target market is in alignment. And then you can constantly be you can speak to them. I think people have this fear of missing out or this scarcity mentality. And that is the ruin of many brand.
Shireen Smith: Great, well, thank you very much indeed, Karen.
Karen Haller: Oh, thank you. Thank you. It's absolute pleasure, absolute pleasure.
Shireen Smith: If you enjoyed this episode, please do tell a couple of people about it. And sign up to the brand new newsletter over at brandtuned.com The link is in the show notes. Thank you and bye.