Communicating through Color

by: Kenneth Cossin

Pantone Leaves by Freecolorsource.comUsing color effectively in all kinds of imagery is a great tool to enhance your non-verbal or written communication.  Businesses, entertainers, marketers, the media, and so on use these to gain our attention and to convey their message quickly without us even knowing it.  Color that is used in a familiar context can be quite effective at building brand identity by creating a comfortable environment for the customer.  Thus, getting across a message to prospective consumers is much easier.  So, how does this all work?


Let us start off by taking a look at the common meanings for different colors.  These meanings are very typical for western culture and may vary based on the culture to which you are visually communicating.

Red – strength, power, love, energy, danger

Orange – creativity, enthusiasm, determination, happiness

Yellow – Sunshine, cheer, happiness, yield, caution

Green – harmony, health, nature, safety

Blue – trust, loyalty, intelligence, wisdom

Purple – royalty, power, wealth

Black – Formal, elegant, power

White – Purity, innocence, cleanliness

Variations of these colors as well as combinations of them have an effect on how you perceive the message.  In addition, colors that complement one another, when used effectively, can combine the communication effects of color.


When using color, you must always think of the context in which you are using it.  For example, if you are selling your home and you have decided to give it a fresh coat of paint, it is best to look to neutral and earth-tone colors.  These colors convey a message of wealth and richness.  Bright, flashy colors, such as pastels, do not typically sell houses.  There are exceptions in the tropical and subtropical climates, but as with every example, there are cases in which it will not fully apply.

Let us take another example.  Let’s say that you are furnishing your new baby’s room.  You would want to go with bright colors and entertaining themes.  These bright colors stimulate a child’s mind and positively affect his or her happiness.  According to some expert sources, some colors can affect your baby’s mood, behavior, and even feeling of well-being.


In marketing, companies will use color in their logos and in their messaging to influence buyer decisions.  They use color in their logos, designs, and ads to influence buying decisions.  The intent is to change your mood or your feelings toward their brand so that you will make a purchase.  Take a look around you next time you are in the store.  Identify what colors attract you, and think about how they make you feel.  You will be surprised by how much thought is given to color.


One of the best color coordinators is nature.  When seeking complimentary colors, look at the natural world, your environment.  As you will notice, the colors that we see are not exact or standard hues.  In addition, colors are typically a gradation of color, that is, things are not monochrome.  Therefore, you need to closely inspect the color combinations in order to ensure a natural complement.

Another awesome effect that occurs in nature is the ever-chaging color of our environment based on lighting and seasons.  Take advantage of these variations when choosing colors that communicate.  Remember that much of our communication is non-verbal, therefore, use these color choices in your clothing and accessories.


Depending on your age range, your choices of color will typically change.  For example, children will gravitate to reds, yellows, and oranges whereas adults will gravitate to greens, blues, and purples.

As we get older, social acceptance for color preferences changes which may strongly influence our color choices.  Therefore, if we are given the societal message that, “blue is for boys,” grown men are not going to say that their favorite color is pink.  Even women see the color pink as a color for young girls and, therefore, shy away from this color.

Popular Color Usage

It is fun to learn what colors are used most in marketing.  The type of product being sold can strongly influence the color choices.  For example, red is the most common color for beverage logos with blue running a close second and purple being the least common.

Next time you are designing something, think about the color choices that you make and why you are making them.  Use nature to inspire color combinations to help you effectively communicate your message.

image credit:


11 Tips for a Great Video Résumé

by: Kenneth Cossin

For almost any employer, creating a video résumé is not the end-all be-all for applying for a job. But a video résumé can be a great way to showcase your portfolio of talents. Here are a few tips in creating this supplemental visual that can really make you stand out from the crowd.

  1. Maintain the length of your video from one to three minutes; much longer and you will have lost your chances.
  2. Dress appropriately for the camera.
  3. Use an eye-pleasing backdrop if you do not have access to a green screen.
  4. Make your background appropriate for the job that you are applying for. For example, a mountain landscape would be great for a Forest Ranger, but obviously not for a Public Relations Director.
  5. Be aware of ambient sound, especially outdoors. The audio should be your voice, that is, no airplanes flying overhead.
  6. Have a script prepared and practice it!
  7. Be sure to include not only voice-on-camera but also voice-over work while demonstrating your portfolio.
  8. Use both close-ups and mid-shots. What about long shots? – Not so much… This one is common sense.
  9. Have several friends and trusted working professionals look at your video before finalizing your post production.
  10. Hand out your video résumé during the interview if possible. Be mindful of the employer; some may wish to view it after you have left.
  11. Have fun! Enjoy the creation process. If you are stressed or “stiff” on camera, you will be perceived in that fashion by the viewer.
Below is a great example of a video résumé.  How do you think it could be better based on the 11 points I mentioned above?

5 Useful Tips on Developing Social Media Conversations with Your Customers

by: Kenneth Cossin

As marketers, we have heard so much about how social media allows us to rapidly build our brand, get the word out regarding our products and services, target different demographics, and optimize consumer engagement. Yet we need to take social marketing to the next level.

Thus, I pose the question: Is your company simply using social media channels to create an online marketing presence, or is it creating social media conversations with your customers?

For example, as a professor at Full Sail University, my students are my customers. I use many different social media channels to get each student to “buy into” my courses. I develop student engagement, but then I also intentionally develop a professional relationship with each individual student. By doing so, each student gains a sense of personal investment in my courses.

Here are my five tips for creating social media conversations with your customers:

1. Your attention, please! Gaining our customer’s attention is pretty simple for us marketers. It is something that we have been doing since before the days of social media. Thus, continue to bring attention to your brand and develop your brand story through your social media channels.

2. Get your customers to opt in. Remember, everyone loves a good story. Therefore, the better your brand tells your business story, the more customers you will get to opt in. Once you have an engaged consumer, it is imperative that you learn what attracted him/her to your business. Traditional marketing methods of gathering metrics on your customers remain important. And with social media, you can discover why a customer is choosing you.

3. Determine your customers’ individuality. Find unique ways to get your customers to tell you how they found you. What about your customers makes them choose you? How are you fulfilling their unique wants and needs? What incentives do you provide to keep your customers engaged?

4. Focus on conversation. Typically, businesses will ask customers a series of questions through the use of impersonal surveys, questionnaires, or cold calls. At this point, many marketers usually stop. With social media, you cannot stop here. You must follow through and build a personal conversation by leveraging social media in new and unique ways. So what are we to do?

5. Develop interaction. Through the use of social media interaction, periodically make intentional contact with your customers. Remember to treat your customer as you would a good friend. We do things for our friends because we care about them; thus, demonstrate to your customers who connect with you through social media that you care about them. Communicate with them. Give them the service they deserve: prompt responses, incentives, and other cool offers. You will receive in return the continued trust and loyalty you need and desire to grow your business.

Reposted via permission of Social Media Marketing Magazine dated 11 January 2011.

You Are not Alone

by: Kenneth Cossin

A hero in my life shared a link, “Let People Live in Your Heart,” with my fellow coworkers and me, and it compelled me to share my thoughts with you through my blog.  You will understand why I am writing this blog post if only you watch the first video in the link above.

Back in November 2003, I lost my mom to cancer.  Four years later, in July 2007, I lost my father to complications of diabetes.  At that time in life, I felt very alone.  I did not share my story with anyone, not even my siblings.  I felt that no one understood, and no one truly cared that much.

My life began to lose meaning, I began to lose weight, I had no motivation, and life was just a routine.  That changed for me one day when I shared not just the bad experience but also the good memories.  Life began to regain meaning to me, and to this day, I find that sharing the good times and the laughs as well as providing empathy to those around me regarding difficult times can help me heal and ultimately help others to understand that they are never alone.

We never truly realize the impact that tragedy can have on our fellow human beings unless we draw on the life lessons that we have learned.  In closing, I ask that you let people live in your heart.  You never know when you, too, will need not feel so alone.

Stedman Graham Presents…

by: Kenneth Cossin

Kenneth Cossin, Stedman Graham, and Robert Parrillo

photo: Arnold Munroe

Stedman Graham visited Full Sail University on 24 August 2009 to talk with faculty and staff about ways to follow our dreams.

He talked about his nine step plan for success (please see his book entitled, “You Can Make it Happen” if you wish to learn more).  His topics included ways that we can better communicate, collaborate, and build community through solid project management skills.  Many of these skills I use in my classes every month.  Therefore, I hope that my students glean interesting and fun ways that we can truly find our passions and empower ourselves.

The strongest and most useful message that I took away from his presentation was not just our need to find our passion but to pursue it without pause.  Our lives are filled with information and distractions to the point that we must filter it all and find the useful bits that fit into our passion.

During his presentation, I envisioned an analogy of the California Gold Rush in 1849 when gold miners flooded the west in search of the next big money-making venture.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am not equating what Mr. Graham had to say with an influx of people seeking quick wealth.  I was imagining the emotional and personal wealth that one could obtain through honest soul searching to not only enrich their lives but also help sustain and give themselves purpose.

Thus, we can find meaning and purpose in whatever we may choose to do.  From my grandfather that was a French immigrant seeking a better way of life here in the United States to the successful Bill Gates and Steve Jobs that own multi-billion dollar companies, we, too, can do it.  We can all be positive and successful citizens no matter what path or passion we choose.

Note: Per FTC Rules – No money, products, or services were exchanged for this photo.

Why Should I Listen?

by: Kenneth Cossin

I had a very engaging conversation with a coworker today regarding blogging.  The conversation came about by me mentioning some course changes that I want to implement in my class.

While we were talking, I realized several key communication aspects that we were using that we sometimes take for granted:

1. Create a communication bubble

Despite all of the sounds and distractions around us, we focused on the topic at hand.  We essentially created a “bubble” around us where we were purposefully ignoring extraneous input.  This not only allowed us to have a meaningful conversation, but to also brainstorm some great ideas.  We weighed the pros and cons of each idea by maintaining the one single focus.

2. Ask meaningful questions

Our questions and ideas were open-ended in our conversation.  Why?  Well, because we needed to obtain more information than a simple yes or no answer.  We needed to explore the substance of the conversation rather than simply the superficial aspects.

3. Listen without talking

When each of us was talking, interjecting ideas, explaining opinions, etc., we simply listened.  By doing so, we found that we were not only answering some rather profound questions but also looking at the different perspectives that exist.  In addition, we found that listening to one another helped to generate more questions and ideas.

4. Take notes

I took notes of our discussion to refer to later, because the discussion was too long to remember every topic, idea, thought, or additional question.  Thus, at a later date, we could revisit the questions and ideas with “fresh eyes.”

So, why should I listen?  Because the best ideas, thoughts, and actions that I have learned in my life have come from the people around me.