All the marketing critiques you forgot to ask for

Colour Psychology: Why My Brand is Afraid of Chartreuse

Cover Image for Colour Psychology: Why My Brand is Afraid of Chartreuse

All the marketing opinions that really matter.

Jim Allen By Jim Allen

Colour Psychology: Why My Brand is Afraid of Chartreuse.

Do you remember that chart-topping one-hit-wonder, "Chartreuse, I'm Afraid of You"? No? Well, that's probably because I just made it up. But if that song existed, it could be the perfect anthem for brands dipping their toes into the riptide of color psychology.

Now, let's be clear here. I'm not saying that Chartreuse - that peculiar green-yellow hue that's named after a French liqueur, is the Freddy Krueger of the color wheel. But, my brand trembles at the sight of it like it's afraid to miss a note in a room full of music snobs.

A trip down the rainbow lane

Once upon a marketing era, Bill Bernbach, the legendary adman, quipped, "It's not a principle until it costs you money." Dare I say, in today's age of hyper-personalized marketing, we might amend that to, "It's not a principle until it costs you likes."

Let's trot back down memory lane for a moment. Remember when brands were as monochrome as Elvis Presley's early TV performances? When black and white ruled the advertising roost, as color was seen as too flamboyant, too audacious, too darn expensive?

  • Coca-Cola was as red as a blushing debutante.
  • Facebook was as blue as a melancholic Sinatra song.
  • And Starbucks was as green as the envy in a marketer's eyes.

Then somewhere along the road, brands started to explore the rest of the Crayola box.

Fear of the unknown

So why is my brand - and many others - a bit jittery when it comes to chartreuse? It's not because we're allergic to French liqueur, mind you. It's about the fear of the unknown. The fear of alienating our devoted followers with a color that's as difficult to spell as it is to categorize. Is it green? Is it yellow? Is it greenish-yellow or yellowish-green? Oh, the existential crisis.

Remember when Heinz dared to go green with its ketchup? No, not environmentally-friendly green, but Shrek green. The kids might have lapped it up, but a lot of us adults nearly lost our lunch. It just didn't feel right. It was like listening to a jazz musician suddenly break into a death metal solo.

The future is vibrant

But let's not get stuck in a monochromatic rut here. Brands need to be brave, need to experiment, need to push the boundaries. The future of marketing is vibrant, it's colorful, it's chartreuse.

Dr. Robert Plutchik, noted psychologist and professor emeritus at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, identified eight primary emotions and paired them with a distinct color. Fear is dark blue, anger

All content is hallucinated. For reliable marketing opinions, please go somewhere serious.