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March 7, 2010

Killer Campaigns Volume Four: The Color of Branding

Web video is a communication technique that provides a viewer-experience that delivers several big advantages over broadcast: first, the length of your presentation is for the most part a non issue other than the degree to which your content and delivery holds your audience’s attention; second, the cost to produce and present professional online video is far more affordable than broadcast; and third, Web video provides the opportunity to intellectually and emotionally engage your audience with a memorable viewing experience, and involve them physically by prompting direct-response action. On the other hand, broadcast does provide a mass audience, but not necessarily an attentive one like your website.

As we have seen in previous installments of Killer Campaigns, the commercial broadcast industry, despite its economic and time constraints, has plenty of good examples of techniques that can be used effectively in Web video campaigns, if you understand how certain elements affect an audience.

It’s easy to misread a commercial’s true marketing effectiveness and assume the big flashy special effects and grandiose production stunts are what makes a commercial work, but in fact those kinds of things generally only make a commercial more expensive. True the big-deal aspects of a production may attract attention, but it’s the small things that are the most important, the most effective and the most affordable. It’s the things you hardly notice like writing, casting, music, performance, and campaign consistency that have the most impact on a presentation’s ability to communicate, influence and persuade. It’s the production techniques to which the audience pays little attention that maximizes sale-conversions and increases the bottom-line. Take nuts for example.

Color Me Nuts

Nuts, the edible kind, not the irritating relative kind, are about as generic as you can get. So how do you go about creating a marketing campaign for something as mundane as nuts?

The Wonderful Pistachio “Get Crackin” video campaign and micro site got a lot of things right. This series of videos use the same format, style, message, and color in order to turn a nondescript, seemingly unbrandable generic product into a hip, sexy brand. Each element of the presentation re-enforces the other leaving a lasting brand impression without blowing anything up, or spending a fortune creating animated baby skateboarders.

One element that turns this campaign into a great campaign rather than just a very good one is its use of color. What could be simpler?

Pistachios Newly Weds Do It Video

he campaign’s consistent use of a signature color palette, green and black, combined with a great tagline and a series of clever sketches deliver the kind of memorable impression that prompts instant recognition and impulse-purchasing when seen on store shelves.

Pistachios Dominatrix Do It Video

One video is not a campaign, so Paramount Farms had seven different videos created, all following the same formula so the audience’s recognition and retention was enhanced and re-enforced every time they watched a new video segment.

Pistachios Mobsters Do It Video

This technique is not new; in particular Danone uses color co-ordination effectively in their television commercials to distinguish their various brands of yogurt: Activa uses a green color palette, DanActive uses yellow, and Silhouette uses purple. The Danone commercials don’t have the edginess of the pistachio campaign but their use of color is well thought-out and effective even though the messaging is pretty standard.

The edgy style, consistent format, and color branding definitely qualifies the “Get Crackin” videos as a Killer Campaign.

The Color of Money

Another campaign that makes an impression by means of its clever use of color is the Edward Jones “Join Us” campaign. If you’re not familiar with the commercials they are available on YouTube but unfortunately the embed option for them has been disabled.

These commercials were shot on a white background in black-and-white, a technique that draws special visual attention to the yellow-and-black Edward Jones logo. The whole package is very clever from the way the videos are shot, to the dialog, the music, and of course the clever use of color, or lack-there-of.

The same visual style was repurposed for a companion print ad campaign further establishing and enhancing the brand image in the minds of the audience.

Edward Jones Companion Print Ads

The Audacity to Believe

Is on Board With the Crazy Idea

Signature Color Branding

Colorcom is a color consultancy located in Hawaii and New York. According to their website, color branding increases recognition by up to eighty percent; it aids memory processing and storage; and it attracts attention, increases comprehension and mentally engages the viewer. That’s pretty powerful stuff, and you don’t have to be a mega corporation with deep pockets to implement color effectively.

Color Affects, a London-based color consultancy, explains how color affects perception on a physiological level through the electrical impulses that pass from the retina to the hypothalamus area of the brain that controls our hormones and endocrine system. The hypothalamus controls behavior patterns, sex and reproductive functions, metabolism and appetite among others.

Color By Association

Color by itself is not enough to get the job done. The pistachio campaign added the format, style, messaging and performance elements in a consistent campaign that re-enforced the message and the brand.

In the end, Web videos are not as much about making a sale as they are about making contact: contact in the sense of connecting to an audience on an intellectual and emotional level. Web videos designed merely to flog some product or service have built-in limitations, and an abbreviated shelf-life, whereas video presentations designed to engage can become eternal.