The headline of today’s post is one of my favorite lines from a movie I love called Elf. Will Ferrell is hilarious as Buddy, an adopted Elf who leaves the North Pole and travels to Manhattan to meet his dad. While visiting his dad at work, he answers the phone, “Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?” One day, I would like to work in a place where I can answer the phone that way.

Things have been busy for me lately and so less time for “observing” potential topics for this blog. But what I have noticed lately—which is kind of hard to miss—are the beautiful colors of the leaves. The trees have been building up their food reserves for the winter and the little leaves are shriveling up and dying. But boy do they go out in a blaze of glory.

And after reading an article about colors in Marketing News, a magazine published by the American Marketing Association, I thought it would be fun to talk about how we can use colors to influence people’s perceptions of brands, buying behavior, and moods. How you decorate your living room is your own business. Various cultures have different views on colors and what they mean, but below are some general color associations that I got from a Web site called

  • Red: power, passion, courage, vitality, excitement, strength, speed, love, heart and warmth.
  • Yellow: light, cheer, sunlight, happiness, creativity, confidence, self-esteem, intellect, innovation.
  • Blue: caring, devotion, trust, wisdom, peacefulness, serenity, loyalty, truth, coolness, harmony.
  • Green: nature, fresh, growth, abundance, life, youth, renewal, hope, fertility, peace, balance.
  • Orange: energy, warmth, contentment, fruitfulness, strength, security, sensuality, abundance.
  • White: pure light, energy, truth, perfection, serenity, harmony, loyalty, sincerity, clarity.
  • Black: formal, reserved, drive, dignity, reliability, authority, power, prudence, wisdom, glamour.

I believe that blue is the color most often used in business. And it makes sense considering how the color is perceived. Orange and red are often used in fast food—cheap and quick. Can you think of brands you like and the colors they use? Based on the descriptions above, do those colors accurately reflect how you feel about the brand? Something to think about.

And in answer to Buddy’s question, my favorite color is green. But I sure do like seeing all of the colors in nature. And while this has nothing to do with colors, I feel compelled to note that Office Max created some great buzz about their brand by developing the Elf Yourself video application through JibJab. Creativity and innovation can cause something to spread as virally as the swine flu. Try it, it’s fun.