The companies that today hire for marketing leads and value their seniority over their art talents missed the point. Marketing essentially is persuasion with visual and a voice playing in the deeper layer of the human mind — emotion, and it causes behavioral changes in the long run. The colors and words send the brains and hearts messages, reforming a profile in your mind associated with the company, which becomes the “brand”.
Like how literature and movie form emotions and people’s own imageries in their minds, marketing is art and magic but with a focused agenda.
Let’s just call it, mArgtketing. Pardon my German.
There are rules on colours, wordings and story angles applied to mArgketing milking your behavior changes without your knowledge.
But if I break all the rules and make beautiful work and have people subscribe just because they genuinely like it, that is art. And this is the new kind of mArgtketing I want to bring to businesses. I believe art smells like freedom and people would love it.
First, know the rule, and break the rule.
The first two questions any CEO needs to think about when they create their websites are: first, am I a B2B or a B2C company? Second, what is the story that I am anchoring on? –go back to the truthful, quintessential Me when I look at this problem with Anger and want to solve it.
When I was working at Tencent America, I noticed the company’s interesting struggle, the intriguing position they hold in transiting from this world’s most successful B2C company into fighting for a share in the B2B business. This is a side note: yes, B2B is the future. The next 5-10 years are about a few tech giants converting the real world onto the internet base layers, Cloud for IoT and the Banking System, and the top layer Applications follow suit.
They did it so well in the last ten years by dropping social media apps with fun aesthetics and engaging functions to end-users. But B2B is a different animal. Google Cloud Platform does not gain much money from individual users. It loses money to individual users in the first year of membership. It’s about winning the big corporation clients, through sales and connections. External marketing did not matter as they absolutely were everything in 2C business. Our only external marketing work was for conferences, where sales fish their clients. And ironically it was the compartmentalized internal teams that needed marketing — hard to get information fly in a behemoth when KPI goals from the development end and sales end are not exactly aligned. They hated the bugs but we needed the new products. (No offense. This is so common)
About the difference between the two business models in visual designs, check the foot bar of your computer, and see all the social media applications are all using bright colours. The ones in the information business are using blue, light blue: Twitter, Telegram, Word, Messenger, MSN, Internet Explorer.
Here is some free colour psychology for tech entrepreneurs reading this, Blue is the color for knowledge, Message, which extends to today’s world, are tech and information. I can’t prove it to you here whether it’s insidious knowledge built-in in our consciousness or it’s a reflex from ad blasts living a social life too long. It’s both. It’s known archaic knowledge used for a gain in the mass communication department. The human brain unconsciously picks this up, without you saying a word.
As I write this I look at Wechat. What is bubbly dwarf Hulk doing here mixed in with the Smurfs? Then I remembered the talk we had in the company. it’s all about the mini-programs. It’s the Chinese version of the big you-know-who. It’s a marketplace, which brings us to, money.
The colour Green is for money and art — Fidelity, TD Ameritrade, dollars, Robinhood, Douban, Spotify. The difference being, the Shade of the colours gives the brand a personality. Grass green or Teal makes all the personality differences — the invention of which depends on who your customers are.
So colour brings out the role/functionality and shade brings out the personality.
It is interesting to see this colour theory plays out unconsciously when I was working at Tencent, the young Cloud team, which consider themselves a Startup in the Bay with two footholds in Palo Alto and Cleremont, trying to figure things out. They were using a bright popping blue, the QQ blue on a massive scale on their website. It’s not a good idea for a B2B company. It was the 2C thinking. I noticed today that they changed it into a deeper greyer shade of blue. That was the reliable decision.
Now, about the Shades of the colour. Here is the gist. If you want your customers to like you and play with you, if you provide FUN, choose a bright shade. — That is all the social media and gamified apps. But if you want your costumers to trust you with their money, their life, and rely on you, if you provide a SOLUTION and want to show establishment and authority, choose a dull middle-aged man shade of the color (however my grandfather is the most humorous person in my family by the way), — this used to be Fidelity (but it looked so old. they changed it too), and this should be used by most finance-related Big institutional-like companies. Can you imagine your bank turn into the bubbly Robinhood green?
Next, on to why using popping bright colour over a large scale on your website isn’t a good idea. The readers lose their focus. But you want to guide them to focus on your Subscription button isn’t it. The large scale neon color makes that area popping out visually like floating on the surface. You can’t read the words on it, and it’s way too exciting to be taken seriously. You want to be taken seriously and pop the most important information. So, dull/mute the background elegantly, and save the bright one for the buttons, with a contrast/opposite colour from the palette (a concept you learn in art classes) — they make harmony. I want to show good and bad examples but I don’t want to make enemies or advertise for free.
And about Shapes. Twitter is a bird put together by all perfect circular lines. All the lines in that logo, are a section of a perfect circle. It feels harmonious. Linkedin however, is as squarish as you want a professional to be, as the word “square” describes the type of personality in English.
Lastly, the Story. The story is the voice of the company and the CEO. This is art on a new abstract level. I spend my life extracting the stories out of clueless chaos. First, you have to listen to the social sentiment, the voice of the world, then hear the voice in you, and when they converge, you have an exploding marketing effect.
The importance of storytelling? It’s been larger than the actual tech. It hasn’t been the tech that’s driving an economical growth in this cycle; It was the Silicon Valley Storytellings that drove our income growth and the past stock boom.
A painful deleverage process we are in right now because of this. Good luck America.
Want to do some good with this Power of stories? We absolutely Can and attract Revenue at the same time. The Good Artists vs. Bad Artists game is everywhere. This consumerism-driving, compulsive-behavior-enticing field needs to Breathe. It needs Real Art to fill it up and Rock it.
Someone needs to Care for and Listen to the End User Human Beings when Their Choice as a Consumer is No Longer Needed for the big Revenue. (I’m going to write another article about how the machine grew so huge and it now owns most of us.) Sense the danger here.
Fuck Edward Bernays.
Bring on Debussy, Banksy, Dolores O’Riordan, Handel, Giorgio de Chirico, René Magritte. And bring all the underground artists musicians above ground, with a revenue — the ones that are chased off the grid by gentrification and governing. They are the songs of our hearts and soul. Stop withering.
It needs a renaissance for the people.
Let’s talk about this on another day.
— Your atypical Artist in the Bay