Color Obsession

By Eric Samuel Green, Vice President, Executive Creative Director, Charming Charlie

From Christian Louboutin’s red soles to McDonald’s golden arches, the most successful retailers have optimized their use of color to form a lasting connection in consumers’ minds.

As designers, we are keenly aware of the importance of color in branding and marketing. In a retail setting, colors can help reinforce a strong brand identity, provide subtle cues for shopping behavior and set the tone for a customer’s overall experience.

At Charming Charlie, our obsession with color is what sets us apart. We’ve strategically applied color in every aspect of our store design to create an environment that excites shoppers and keeps them coming back.

Consider the following opportunities to incorporate color into your branding.

Logo and Brand Identity
In business, as in life, your image says a lot about you. Use colors to help tell your company’s story and convey your brand’s personality to customers. Want to evoke energy and warmth? Consider using orange in your logo and design. How about romance or innocence? Think pink.

You also can take inspiration from your products. During my time at The Gap, we explored various logo designs, but always kept the signature navy blue color, which represented the brand’s core competency in denim.

Finally, look at your competitors’ colors. In a crowded field, your brand needs to stand out—dare to be different.

Exterior Signage and Architecture
For brick-and-mortar retailers, your store’s exterior is the first thing potential customers see. Have you carefully considered the colors in your signs and window displays?

Why not paint the outside of your store in a color that literally stops customers in their tracks and begs them to come inside? The kind of exterior that makes people pull out their phone to snap a picture for Instagram.

And, no—you don’t have to paint your store bright red. Take Sephora, for instance: they’ve created distinctive storefronts that stand out in a sea of other shops using their black-and-white-striped theme. And Apple has mastered the art of cool, memorable exteriors by designing stores that perfectly represent their brand. The focus on white and silver pays homage to their core product and creates a futuristic feel that reinforces their position as an innovation leader.

Interior Design
The colors in a store can have a huge impact on a shopper’s experience and, ultimately, their purchasing decisions. Overdo it with too many bright colors and you risk creating a frenetic environment that overwhelms customers. But if your colors are too muted, customers may be bored and uninspired.

In general, warm colors like red, orange and shades of yellow are energetic and inviting. Sale signs are always red, because the color grabs people’s attention and inspires action. Cool colors, such as blue and green, can be used to create a calming environment.

At Charming Charlie, we use color as an organizing principle, grouping products together by color to create eye-catching displays that grab customers’ attention.

Interior colors should reinforce your company’s branding. I like to apply brand colors in unexpected places, like ceilings, merchandise tags and even mannequins.

In almost two decades in retail design and visual merchandising, I’ve learned that shoppers connect to brands that know who they are and can communicate that well. As you can see, color is the most important branding tool we have as creatives. Use it wisely!

Eric Samuel Green has worked with top brands such as C. Wonder, Burberry, Gap, Cole Haan, Neiman Marcus, Limited Brands and The North Face. He currently is the executive creative director for Charming Charlie. His life mission is to change the intimidation and stress associated with design, which he is doing through his new book, “Style Made Simple: The 10 Steps To Decorating With Style.”


Photo by Eric Samuel Green


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