pink-duckWalk around any toyshop today and you’ll find that the aisles are colour-coded to guide you to buy the ‘right’ toys for your girly girl or boisterous boy. And it’s true that we certainly do associate pink, purples and pastels with the truly girly and strong navy, reds and black for the boys. When it comes to children’s toys the marketeers do know what they are doing.

But these products are marketed at children who are trying to establish their gender identity and want to fit in. Barbie pink suits them down to the ground as it is clearly a girl colour. Thomas the Tank Engine blue and Fireman Sam red shows that they are a boy.

From the age of two my daughter refused to wear a single item of clothing with even a speck of black on it, in her mind it all had to be pink and frilly or she would look like a boy. Luckily at the grand old age of 6 she has decided to develop her own style and we now get a combination of all colours and patterns (with little concern for what the weather is doing, but we’re getting there!)

I specialise in designing, primping and beautifying brands for small businesses and I often get a brief with a limited gender pallet ‘it has to be pink or purple because I want to appeal to women’. But wait, do you really want your brand to say exactly the same things as the next brand that wants to appeal to women? Your brand is unique, it needs to stand out as something new and different. You need to create your own style.

Using an unusual colour can really get you to stand out from the crowd.

I try to encourage all my clients to specialise, to niche and to identify the sort of customer that they would love to work with. Each client has to fill in a design brief form to pin down who this elusive customer is, what they like, where they shop, what gets them to buy. Or if they have a few options we explore it together. We end up with a true picture of what attracts their ideal customer and, often, the answer can be quite unexpected.

Use colour in a more subtle way and you can portray a much more compelling marketing message.

Looking at the magazines your ideal customer reads, the websites they buy from and the places they hang out it can be a great place to start. As you start to collect pictures and articles together colour patterns emerge. When creating a new brand I often pick one of these colours and work up a colour palette from there, taking into account how the colours will balance and interact together.

What we end up with is a far more sophisticated brand that reaches out to appeal directly to their ideal customer.

Let’s leave the bright pink to Barbie.