Choosing the winning colors and shapes for your company


 baby in float device in pool

We're looking at an ad for a securities firm. One-third of the page is taken up with a color photograph of a cute little infant floating on a decorated plastic tube in the clear waters of, maybe a swimming pool. There's a lot of ad copy under the photo (shown here). Picture this in your mind for a few seconds, as you might while browsing through the pages of your favorite magazine.

When you think about this picture of the baby leisurely floating on the water, what comes to mind? What are your feelings? What adjectives describe this scene? What did the ad guys want you to see? If you say "peaceful," "serene," "secure," and "calm" you would be in the majority. That's the way most of us see this affair. But, on closer inspection, we are wrong! In fact, this is a very dangerous situation. There is no adult present, and, I'm sure, that plastic floatation device is not approved by the United States Coast Guard!

So, why did we get those peaceful feelings. Well, it's in the motif, it's in the colors, and the shapes, at a subconscious level, that produce those serene feelings that, mostly, we all feel. In the past, we've talked briefly about shapes so you probably guessed that the oval shape of the inner tube mirroring the baby's oval head and rounded body convey deep seated emotional feelings of security and calmness. You are right.

So, let's talk about other shapes and colors and our reaction to them. Studies show that shapes and colors affect people in different ways. Use them properly in your company logos, ad copy, and presentations and you'll beat the competition. Remember, in today's market winning is by a tenth of a second. The Guerrilla gains this 1/10 by 1 millisecond here and 1 millisecond there. The milliseconds add up. Guerrilla players win by majoring in minor things!

Consider the following charts and the associations your customers have with different shapes and colors. The way to read the chart is to look down the first column entitled "Consumer" and see the reaction most males and females have to basic geometric shapes and colors. The charts will tell you how visible or noticeable the shape or color is. It will also tell you how memorable or how long they will stay on someone's mind and if they prefer them over other shapes and colors. Use the charts to design your marketing pieces and logos to fit your customer base.

 Customer Association with Shapes

Customer Association with Colors

The original source of the charts are unknown. We'd be happy to give credit. They have been in our files for over seven years and have since been updated and modified.


Gallagher has 15 years of speaking and consulting experience with America's top Fortune 500 Firms. Plus write-ups in National media, Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine , Selling Power, CNN's "Around Town," "Good Morning America," "The Today Show," etc. Some Noteworthy Accomplishments: Bill's group came up with the branding name and logo for Jiffy Lube, the logo for AOL, the new American Express Logo, B of A's new logo, Tyson Food's Chicken Campaign, and the U.S. Army's slogan, "Be all that you can be." Bill can be reached at 530-622-6075

Copyright 1996 Bill Gallagher, Ph.D. All rights reserved

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