The human eye can distinguish more shades of green than any other color. The reason for this evolutionary trait is that when humans were hunting and gathering in the thick vegetation of the jungle, being able to distinguish one green from another helped them stay alive. There is a big difference between the soft green of a maple leaf and the waxy green of poison ivy. This prehistoric connection to green has made the color firmly rooted in our brain as natural.
Green today is connected to the earth, environmentalism, cleanliness, and youth. But, when did this association start, and how can your company use this association to the greatest potential? Continue reading to learn the secrets of green.
Green and environmentalism have been connected for a large portion of modern history. Concern over the earth, and natural resources are paired with the color green. Trees, plants, grass, and other vegetation are all green. This is because of chlorophyll, the chemical used by plants for photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert sunlight into energy. Therefore when it came time to pair a color with the ideology that supported the natural world, green was an obvious choice. It makes far more sense than red and blue for other political ideologies.
When did society first understand that the earth was sickening because of their actions? It is hard to say with certainty. We can look at famous figures like Henry David Thoreau and his writing to see the most popular instance of early activism. Thoreau was a transcendentalist, meaning he believed in the intrinsic good of humanity, but believed society was corrupting us. His answer to this corruption was a return to the natural world. He advocated for a return to the natural world to reconnect with the roots of humanity. In his book, Walden, he writes
Many wrote off Thoreau's ideology as the ramblings of a proto-hipster. However, his ideas are legitimate. Studies have shown that meditation is a natural setting that can reduce anxiety and stress. I can attest to the fact that surrounding yourself in nature's greenery does have a calming effect, as long as the bugs and vermin keep their distance. Nature, and by connection the color green, tap into our caveman's brains and makes us feel at ease, like an instinctual connection to nature as home. Businesses can use green packaging to create this same calming aura. Thoreau’s work would not drastically change the political landscape during his life, but following his death in 1862, his work would go on to inspire political movements throughout time.
Another notable player in the game of green is Rachel Carson and her book Silent Springs. In this book, published in 1962, Rachel Carson exposed the hazards of the pesticide DDT, eloquently questioned humanity's faith in technological progress, and helped set the stage for the environmental movement. Carson was also a renowned nature author and a former marine biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Silent Spring was the first book of its kind to raise concerns over human's impact on the Earth. Before her, pollution and destruction of natural resources were seen as a necessary tool for progress. The Environmental Protection Agency owes its creation to the concerns that sprang from Carson’s writing.
Al Gore wrote the introduction to Silent Spring 45 years after its release. Gore, in addition to being the former Vice President and losing the election to Bush, is famous for the documentary he was featured in titled An Unfortunate Truth. In this documentary, Gore outlined the worsening climate and called attention to global warming, which at the time of its release, was not a well-known concept. The documentary outlined concepts such as melting ice caps, warming oceans, and general climate change. In schools, this documentary is still shown to introduce children to climate change. Aside from the documentary, Gore has advocated for green energy throughout his entire career.
Green is clearly shown to be paired with environmentalism when we look at the recycling logo. The original recycling symbol was designed in 1970 by Gary Anderson, a senior at the University of Southern California as a submission to the International Design Conference. His submission was part of a nationwide contest for high school and college students sponsored by the Container Corporation of America. This contest followed the first Earth Day celebration on April 22, 1970. The logo uses three green curving arrows in a triangular Mobius loop. It represents the three R’s of recycling: reduce, reuse, and recycle.
All these players have contributed to the creation of Green politics. This is a political ideology that aims to create an ecologically sustainable society. The movement is rooted in environmentalism, nonviolence, social justice, and grassroots democracy. It began to emerge in American politics around the 1970s but has slowly been spreading across the globe.
This is all a rough overview of the history of the Green movement in politics. What does it all have to do with green? All of these milestones firmly cemented the association of environmentalism and the color green. The symbols and iconography that Carson, Gore, and even Thoreau popularized all were colored green. Today, it is impossible to detach green from the eco-movement. Whenever a brand uses green, there is the assumption that that product is conscious of the environmental impact it has. However, this is not always the truth. There are other connotations to green. What are these other connotations? Continue reading to find out.
Now that your head is full of environmental history, let’s jump into a more wholesome topic, brand identity. Knowing that green is the color of nature and the organic world, the next question is how can you make green work for your brand? If your company is going to strive for a low environmental impact, then utilizing green would be a good way to highlight this. However, you can still use it if you're apathetic towards the environment. Green still has positive effects that make it a great branding choice. Green shouts freshness and youth. Our prehistoric familiarity with green also makes it friendly and welcoming to most customers. Studies have shown that consumers find green in branding to mean young and playful. It represents new beginnings or growth. It is generally associated with nature, growth, and money.
American money is famous for its green color and distinct smell. Yes, the U.S dollar has a distinct smell that other paper currency does not. While the odor is an undefinable result of the composition and life cycle of the bill, the color has more concrete meaning. During the Civil War in 1862, both the Union and the Confederacy started printing their own money. Both bills created were green. This was chosen because the green dye was abundant, and also hard to counterfeit. These bills became known as greenbacks. Today, American money is green because of tradition. There hasn't been any reason to change the color. Because of the connection to money, green is now emblematic of wealth, greed, and envy. Also, don't forget sickness. The phrase "green with envy" really means that the person is sick with envy, and therefore green. Money, sickness, nature. It ain’t easy defining green. Today, green and money is firmly glued together. Green is slang for money today. This can be seen in song lyrics like from The Wedding Singer “You could end world hunger/ Or create a vaccine/ But if you wanna be somebody/ It's all about the green.” Such idioms are too abundant for one blog. The key point is that when people see green, they think of money. Businesses can use this to their advantage. Seeing green may motivate some shoppers to spend their money. Or, if your product is directed at other businesses, green can spread the message that your product will help the buyer make money.
An additional association to green is youth. There is a list of common expressions that connect green to youth. One of these is “greenhorn”, which has its origins in Middle English. The young cattle were described as greenhorns because of their new and budding horns. The origins of green as a term of youth can be pinned on budding plants and sprouting fruits. Most fruits like tomatoes or apples are green when they are first grown, and then ripen into a different color. Other phrases include “a green belly”, which refers to a novice, an unsophisticated person, typically a new arrival in the city from the country. A greenhead means about the same thing. A green goose is old British slang for either a goose that is slaughtered young or a young prostitute. One can only imagine how those two things became connected. In any case, green branding can denote youth and freshness, a good concept for the food industry. Green is also the color of springtime, which represents rebirth. Green matches this idea of new beginnings and growth because it is the color of most vegetation.
Whole foods are the hippy supermarket your college professor probably shopped at. The supermarket is famous for its fresh ingredients, organic produce, and environmentalism. Whole Foods sacked plastic bags in 2007, far earlier than most stores. They use paper bags or specially made biodegradable plastic bags. Expect some dirty looks if you go into a Wholefoods without your reusable tote bag.
As far as logo design goes, whole foods keep it simple. They use a Pantone 342 C green circle, with their store name in the center. Not much else, aside from a leaf on the o of whole to make it look like an apple or some kind of fruit. The image that they are trying to create is obvious. Natural, organic, and fresh. The darker shade of green they use makes the logo appear more natural. It more closely captures the color green seen in nature. A bright neon green would not have the same effect. If the logo was any other color, it would not make sense.
Look at the logo for a similar supermarket, Trader Joes. When you think about what Trader Joes is all about, you expect them to also incorporate green into their logo somewhere. Yet, it is noticeably sans green. They opt for a red logo with an eclectic font. The effect? They create a more international and eclectic kind of personality. Red is exciting and that’s what they are trying to be. The typeface and red color that tops their stores play into the idea of a globetrotting trader, brining foods from across the world. This idea is reinforced by their Hawaiian shirt clad staff members. The environmental and eco-friendly persona is then a product of organic association. You consider the interior of the store, the paper bags, the wooden checkouts, and green naturally enters your thoughts.
One of the most prominent green brands today is Starbucks. Unlike Whole Foods, Starbucks is upfront with their greenness. As the logo has evolved, it has gotten more and more green. While the original put the coffee color front and center, the most modern logo is entirely green.
The interior of the store, as well as the cups, packaging, and app, all reinforce the same Pantone 3425 C green. The interior of Starbucks bombards the customers with greens and browns to reinforce a premium and intellectual type of atmosphere. The Starbucks décor wants to make you feel calm, the music they play is usually some soft folk/indie rock. It begs you to sit down and work on your novel. The green and brown create an organic and natural feel, which the customer would then connect to their purchase.
Other decorations include maps that trace the origin of the coffee to Peru or Brazil or other countries. In the décor, branding, and packaging of Starbucks, the green reinforces a more thoughtful and premium coffee choice. Compare the Starbucks branding to Dunkin Donuts. Dunkin’s usage of orange and purple expresses speediness and affordability. It is understood by most to be the budget version of Starbucks. This is not a bad look, and it is currently aiding in the growth of the company.
Sodas follow a fairly simple color scheme. With the exception of Coke and Pepsi, the flavor is the color. But, lemon-lime flavored sodas will almost certainly be colored green. Sprite, 7 Up, Sierra Mist, Bubble Up, Fresca, Sun Drop, Sparkle Up, Jic Jac, Howdy, and Kiss are examples. What do you mean you don't know those last few? In any case, lemon and lime are a favorable taste paring in soda, so clones pop up fairly often. Although not as popular, cucumber and apple flavorings will also use green colored branding. Green glass bottles also are seen often. This dates back to WWII, when the brown glass was hard to come by, so companies switched to green. When it comes to the food industry, colors will often denote flavorings. Green is great for apple, lime, melon, or cucumber flavored foods. It's important to match the color of the packaging to the flavor of the item, otherwise, you confuse people.
One company that is trying to project the air of greenness while doing the exact opposite is BP. British Petroleum is one of the world’s largest oil and gasoline suppliers. In the year 2000, they replaced their 70-year-old monogram logo with a new one. The one we see today is the sun or Helios logo as they call it. Helios is the name of the Greek sun god. They use Pantone 348C for the darker green, 368C for the lighter, and 109C for the yellow. The new logo is meant to symbolize the company's new green initiatives.
Following the rebranding in 2000, BP added the tagline "Beyond Petroleum" to symbolize their plans to reduce the carbon footprint of the company and work on more green energy solutions. The problem? The average person is not nearly as stupid as they assumed. Most people saw through the thinly vialed attempt and recognized the contradiction between promoting eco-friendliness and drilling for oil. This was not helped by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, during which 210 million gallons of oil were spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. Still, BP is sticking to its branding strategy. Despite a net loss of 65 billion from the spill, they are still around and pumping. You can take BP’s horrible rebranding as an example of what not to do. Using colors that completely go against your brand image will not have positive effects. Imagine if QQ Studio, a brand that focuses on colorful packaging, had a black and white logo. It wouldn’t make sense.
Hey, that’s us. You may have noticed that QQ Studio uses a combination of green and blue for our branding. What made us pick these colors? Green and blue are a representation of the sky, sea, and land. This is a direct reflection of how QQ Studio encompasses all colors in the spectrum that can be seen between the sky and the sea. Blue and green represent the earth, and since we provide all the colors on Earth, it was a fitting choice. The blue and green also generate a calming effect, which makes it easier for businesses to make a decision and build trust with our brand. The green also symbolizes growth. We aim to help businesses grow their company and make money, which is also green. How's that for an answer?
The combination of green and blue together creates a different effect than the two colors on their own. At QQ Studio, we understand how colors work with each other. If you look at our packaging boxes, you can see that one part is green and the other is blue. We did this to make the boxes distinct, and enjoyable to look at. You can pair green with blue to represent earth, or you can pair it with red to represent Christmas. Combine it with yellow, and you either get a lemon-lime that looks like Sprite or lawn care like John Deere. Green and brown like Starbucks foster intellectuality and authenticity. Pair green and purple, you get The Incredible Hulk. Green and Black? You get Billie Eilish. Green will elicit different feelings depending on the colors you use with it, so be careful.
You can find examples of packaging bags that draw off these tenants in our green collection. These packages were inspired by the same natural and organic ideas that companies like Starbucks are trying to encapsulate. Take a look at our Forest Green QuickQlick™ pouches for an example of a bag that evokes a fresh and creative feeling in the customer. These Forest green pouches are excellent for storing craft supplies because of the youthful coloring.
If you are packaging food, consider our Half Emerald Green QuickQlick™ pouches. The clear window lets the stored food inside the bags be seen by the customers so that they know exactly what they are buying. The matte green on the bag will assure the customer that the food is organic and fresh, thanks to the connotations we discussed earlier.
For as many shades of green that the human eye can see, there is a different association. Pick your favorite, environmentalism, youth, money, or sickness? All these concepts are encompassed by the color green. What feeling does this Kiwi Green SlickSeal™ bag bring to your mind? We owe our ability to distinguish the different meanings to our ancestors, and their efforts to learn which green meant food, and which meant rashes or death. Businesses should use a similar level of judgment when deciding on their colors. Will the green you use for your company be perceived the way you want it to? Only if you know how to use it.