When I was writing my recent blog post on The Effect of Colour, I was reminded of this television advert that had a great impact on me at the time (Aired some time between 2000 and 2002). It echoed some of the points made in the PBS Digital video in that the visual style of the advert is almost black and white with the only truly discernible colour being that of the orange squares on peoples hands. It creates a striking effect by the contrast offered and really worked in making me consider the significance of the orange square on peoples hands. The video also addressed universal, cultural and individual colour association concerns in showing peoples hands from all walks of life, different races and age groups. In addition the opening of palms is symbolic of giving and receiving plus openness and honesty, essential qualities in academia (teachers give the gift of knowledge, students accept the gift, In addition the student trusts the integrity of the teacher). I further explore the significance of the colour orange in this blog …
If my practice work is to effectively focus on learning and produce outcomes that successfully manipulate data-retention through induced emotional states then advertisements are a key area to research further on. Some of the key main aims of adverts of course being to aid data retention (products need to be memorable) and also convey feelings of trust, positive emotions and cultural connections (relate to the audience and also nurture pre-purchase decision schema). If I can emulate some of these feelings within my practice work then I am one step further to developing successful deep-learning e-learning designs.
Orange is said to facilitate an increased oxygen supply to the brain, thus stimulating cognitive activity. In this vein, orange is also known to nurture feelings of (amongst others) happiness, enthusiasm, fascination, determination, success, encouragement, change and stimulation/energy. As such is an ideal colour to incorporate within e-learning programmes. It is true, at least in western cultures anyway, that orange could stimulate and engender enthusiasm for learning. Orange also appeals to younger audiences so could be a very suitable colour for my own design work as I will most likely be aiming my designs towards the GCSE/FE or K-12 audience.
Thinking beyond western audiences, in Asia-Pacific countries, orange conveys feelings of love, happiness, humility, good health and immortality whereas in India, for example, it conveys death and conjures up images of Hindu monks’ robes or the death shroud of a married woman. To balance these extremes, in many other cultures in conveys images of nature, in particular animals. In another stark contrast, the USA see orange as the conveyor of either hazards or cheapness (in retail environments).
“In Asia orange is a positive, spiritually enlightened, and life-affirming colour, while in the US it is a colour of road hazards, traffic delays, and fast-food restaurants”
(Bortoli and Maroto)
Speaking further of orange being seen as an indicator of cheapness in the USA, a hot-dog company called Wienerschnitzel, with hundreds of branches across the USA, added a small amount of orange to their buildings in an attempt to subversively convey the message to buyers that there hot dogs were priced lowly. The company saw their sales increase by 7% after the colour addition. I would argue here that other factors could have come into play – for example, the fact that orange appeals to a younger audience and is seen as happy and energising could have attracted more buyers into the store. There is no mention in the research of data regarding the age of buyers and whether this changed after incorporating the orange colour.
In further considering geographical reactions to colours, we must consider that there is a language barrier; some languages have no word for orange and as such this could affect a viewers interpretation. Would emotions conveyed by neighbouring yellow and red be defaulted to?
“The Shona language in Zimbabwe and the Boas language in Liberia have no words which distinguish red from orange. Therefore, people fail to perceive different colours because of language limitations.”
(Bortoli and Maroto)
Another observation made in my everyday activities is that when i’m driving, and I arrive at some traffic lights, orange makes me think; I have to get ready to pull away, I have to engage the gears and thus engage my brain. When i’m sat at traffic lights I can apply the handbrake and switch off from driving for a moment – look around me at the view, speak to my passenger. When the light goes amber or orange I have to re-engage. This process of engagement could be subconsciously transferred by residents of countries that have an amber or orange centre light on traffic lights to learning activities. More research is needed in this area.
To conclude, it seems that orange would be a very effective colour to carefully and considerately experiment with in my working designs. It would seem that orange could have a very positive effect on learners across many cultures. The future’s bright, the future’s orange ….?
De Bortoli, M. and Maroto, J. (2001) Colours Across Cultures: Translating Colours in Interactive Marketing Communications. Proceedings of the European Languages and the Implementation of Communication and Information Technologies (Elicit) conference. University of Paisley, UK.