In America, 40 million adults (18% of the U.S. population), suffer from anxiety disorders, the most common mental illness (ADAA, 2014). As it is the most common, a vast amount of research has been done to make it one of the most treatable illnesses, yet only one-third of those suffering get the treatment they need (ADAA, 2014). Of those that receive treatment, the three most common forms are through western medicine, therapy, and/or all natural. I chose to focus my research on sensory branding with regards to health communication, a lesson from the course that I highly enjoyed. It is a form of communicating or marketing which enables a communicator to speak to people through non-verbal messages. Based on that, my research found that the things that draw a person to their particular treatment may include the smells surrounding their choice, organization/design of the company’s website or office, and color choice such companies display on their sites, cards, or offices. When a company is looking for business, they have to keep all these factors in mind in order to draw in the people they have expertise with and a desire to help.
When one is feeling emotional distress, such as depression or anxiety, our thoughts as outsiders or as the one struggling often turn to where help can be found. As time has gone on through the ages, we in the modern day have several options to choose from that fit our needs and desires for treatment. First and most common, is western medicine. Otherwise known as allopathic medicine, it began more widespread usage in the early 19th century, and was used for extreme cases only. Today, some form allopathic medicine can be found in nearly every home in America. Second, is treatment through therapy or counseling. Many sufferers need someone to talk to in order to work out their struggles and issues. Discussing things with someone with vast knowledge and a different perspective is often what people need. Thirdly, and least common, is the use of natural medicine, such as essential oils, which offer the truest form of plants, flowers, and roots, with no side effects or risks. They have been around for centuries, really since the beginning of time, for our use.
Through these several options of treatment, one might ask what draws them to each treatment? What draws someone to choose a traditional form of medicine while another chooses something natural?
This paper will discuss the way each of these three things reach out to those suffering from a variety of ailments that follow along that class key concept of sensory branding in health communications, through smells, colors, and organization/design of webpages and offices to better see their impact on society today.
I studied and analyzed several articles in regards to human emotion. The first set of scholarly articles I analyzed were related to the effects of color, smells, as well as organization of a webpage on human emotion. Next I gathered data on what draws a person to natural medicine and the reasons for that, as opposed to western medicine. I researched all of this to see what businesses do to attract customers to the products they are offering.
In regards to colors effect on human emotion, using the Pleasure-Arousal-Dominance emotion model, emotional reactions to color hue, saturation, and brightness can be evaluated. Research found that there were strong and consistent effects between all three, as well as the most pleasant hues to be blue, blue-green, green, red-purple, purple, and purple-blue, whereas least pleasant hues were yellow and green-yellow. The most arousing hues were green-yellow, blue-green, and green, and the least arousing were purple-blue and yellow-red. Lastly, green-yellow brought on greater dominance than red-purple (Valdez, 1994).
Earlier studies by Guilford (1934) and Guilford and Smith (1959) relating to color preferences, found the rank of most to least preferred hues: blue, green, purple, violet, red, orange, then yellow. They also found the brighter and more heavily saturated the color, the most pleasure it brought to the viewer, relationships being curvilinear (Valdez, 1994).
In colors direct effect on emotion, Jacobs and Suess (1975) investigated the effects of the four primary colors through Spielberger, Gorsuch, and Lushene’s (1970) State-Anxiety Inventory. They found that higher state-anxiety scores were associated with red and yellow than with blue and green. Anxiety involves displeasure and high arousal, consistent with studies about physiological reaction as well as color preferences (Valdez, 1994). The study described that red was associated with “exciting” and “stimulating”, a high pleasure and arousing color. Blue is “secure” and “comfortable” as well as “soothing”, and “tender”, or low arousal. Orange is “disturbing”, “distressed”, or even “upset”, which is all high arousal and displeasure. Finally, black is described as “powerful”, “strong”, and “masterful”, implying high dominance (Wexner, 1954).
Color also has interesting effects on behavior. Garrett and Brooks (1987) performed a study on how one was more likely to vote using the colors green and pink. They found that men and women tended to vote for the candidate printed on the green ballot more than the one printed on the pink, when sex wasn’t known. Damhorst and Reed (1986) studied the effects of job applicant’s color of clothing in dark versus light. It was found that those who wore black were thought of as more powerful than those wearing light colored clothing. Lastly, Frank and Gilovich (1988) studied perceived aggressiveness in professional football and hockey teams based on their color of uniform. It was found that black uniforms, when compared to non-black, were associated with greater perceived aggression, as well as player aggressiveness.
Studies have shown that pleasant scents can inspire people, better mood, and encourage certain positive behaviors (Gueguen, 2012). I wanted to research about how smells can affect people in certain environments, such as businesses and offices, even places one might go to receive counseling help for depression and/or anxiety. Certain smells lift the mood, and make people more comfortable, which can be a huge advantage and help for staff and professionals. In one study conducted in a mall, to see if people were more willing to help others if they were surrounded by pleasant smells, found that individuals were indeed more likely to help if they were around a pastry shop/café with it smells. More people were willing to spend more time volunteering when surrounded by a vanilla or lavender scent, and more were willing to answer a questionnaire when around the smells of lavender and peppermint (Gueguen, 2012). The difference with people being willing to do these things and not, when surrounded by a pleasant scent versus no scent, was a whopping 25% (Gueguen, 2012). It has been said, activation of a positive effect linked to the presence of a pleasant odor has been confirmed by mood measurements of participants (Baron & Thomley, 1994).
Next, I looked into studies about web design, and what things potential customers trust and what makes them not trust a company, when it comes to their web page. The article I found discussed what users found that enhanced trust on a website, versus forming mistrust. Data was collected through a questionnaire from 221 participants and it was found that distrust was mostly formed by a complex layout, lack of privacy symbols, and structural issues, such as pop-ups or ads. Trust, was found to be based on social cues, such as a friend recommending the site, or positive reviews, as well as security symbols, and an easy-to-follow layout (Seckler, 2015).
My next set of research articles studied natural forms of medicine versus allopathic options, in regards to its benefits and results, particularly in regards to depression and anxiety. My question was why individuals are pulled toward natural options, as it is becoming a bigger phenomenon among members of our society. The Institute of Medicine’s Academy of Science has recommended that medical schools incorporate information on complementary and alternative medicine so that graduates can properly advise their patients of their various options (Appelbaum, D et. al., 2006). The first article I found discussed the benefits of natural remedies, which are widely used by consumers (Fugh-Berman, 1999). Various herbs and plants can have significant and proven effects on mood, memory, and insomnia, just to name a few. Bacopa monnieri, which is a whole plant extract that effects cognitive function, including depression and anxiety, was studied in my first research article about natural options for care. The study primarily looked at individuals 65 and older, over the span of 12 weeks, and placed half of them into a control group receiving a placebo treatment. Those that received the extract as treatment showed signs of improvement in their memory, had better depression scores, lower anxiety, and a decreased heart rate, while the control group had no effects found. The only thing the extract did not help was digit task, mood, or blood pressure (Calabrese et. al., 2008).
Another study gathered information from Oregon Health & Science University, and 14 other allopathic academic health centers, by administering a survey to assess their attitudes toward complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). It was found that the general concern among students was alternative medicines actual effectiveness, though all students responded they are at least, “minimally effective” (Nedrow, 2007). It was also found more women in the study expressed greater positive interest than men, showing more of a willingness to explore the option, and continue learning more about it. I found that many are attracted to natural options for their lack of side effects, a major advantage compared to allopathic options. People find it pleasing and comforting that natural options have been around for centuries, whereas modern medicine is just that, modern, and new. People find comfort in something that has been around for a long time, proven to work consistently, and provide results without side effects or addiction.
Now, many are drawn to allopathic forms of medicine. Allopathic forms are more widely used by doctors and in hospitals. Many are extremely comfortable about what medication and treatment does, as there has been significant research, and people-based studies.
From all of my research about color that attracts customers and makes them feel a certain way, to the impact of pleasant smells and the organization of a webpage, I’ve been able to gather valuable information on what may pull an individual towards a company, natural or allopathic in practice. My research gathered data from hundreds of individuals through surveys, questionnaires, observation, and laboratory settings, to lead me to what kinds of these things will work best for attracting a depressed, anxiety stricken individual to either western medicine, therapy, or natural remedies.
The meaning of each of these studies is significant as to what draws an individual to a form of treatment for depression and/or anxiety. From the various studies, in regards to Valdezs’ research on the effects of color on emotion, and from what each of the colors symbolize and make us feel, red and yellow were more related to anxiety. From the associations I looked at, the ones with red and yellow I felt turned away from, whereas the ones with blue, green, and even purple, I felt pulled to. Having suffered anxiety and depression myself, I can see these analyses to be true.
In discussing colors effect on behavior, I find it compelling that color effects us in such a way, we judge games, books, people, politics, and even job seekers, based on colors each displays. In reference to those suffering from anxiety and depression, these judgments can affect them in vast ways. If they for instance are on a football team and are playing a game, and the other team is wearing all black, it can cause greater anxiety than if the team was in white uniform. As one of the studies discussed color and team sports, black causes them to come off as more aggressive as a team, and as individuals. I also think of how if I was suffering from anxiety and/or depression, I may be pulled to certain websites, or certain counselors, based on the colors of their webpages, or the color the therapist is wearing, even the colors painted on the walls of the offices. Therapists must take colors into account for their clients to feel confident, and comfortable, as well as give their clients a surety of knowledge and ability to guide. Color is a powerful tool in attracting those to your practice. The best colors for professionals seeking to help those who suffer from anxiety and/or depression would be shades of blue, which communicates intelligence, communication, trust, efficiency, logic, serenity, calmness, coolness, and reflection.
It has been found that smells impact and influence people. Smells can better mood, help performance, encourage, or inspire. Smells can also detract people, or dampen their mood. It is important to have pleasant smells in ones office and/or business to attract customers and keep them happy, helping to have a positive experience, and to get them to return again, leaving with pleasant memories. Pine has been found to reduce stress, as it perhaps reminds people of nature and fresh air. Citrus fragrances lift the mood, and boosts energy. Lemon in particular reduces stress and helps people feel more positive. It is clean, and pleasant. Lavender and Jasmine help people feel calm and ease tension and depression, as well as boosting the mood. Peppermint also elevates mood and stimulates the mind and body. People breathe more clearly and are put at ease with this fragrance. Though this may seem strange, baby powder scent makes people feel nostalgic, and reminds us of safely and security. It fills us with memories of happiness as a child, and eases us of tension and stress, as life was when we were children. A variety, or one particular scent based on the company’s goal, should be used to attract people and ease their minds or better their mood. Studies have proven particularly these fragrances to have a significant effect on individuals.
In discussing web design and what attracts a person to a website, it was found through the article mentioned above, that trust is formed through clean web design, lack of clutter, and adding privacy and security symbols and statements on the site. It may also help to have current clients reviewing your business on Google, to provide a stronger foundation, and to get people to want to try out your service. People may be encouraged to spread the word by sharing with friends through social media and earning prizes for doing so, or through a referral program. Another key thing to successfully attracting customers to your business through your webpage is keeping a universal design that is simple to use for both the older and younger generations. Both have similar preferences, so trying to appeal to one, usually appeals to the other. One may have thought the older generation would have preferred a more simplistic design than the younger, when actually, everyone tends to be drawn to a simplistic and easy to navigate layout and design. (Sledgers, 2005). Website design is a significant key to success in the business and attracting more customers.
Regarding the studies on what would pull someone to try a natural or alternative form of medication, various studies showed many individuals have interest in learning about CAM, and most medical schools offer at least one elective course studying CAM (Wetzel, 1998). As stated above, the majority of students surveyed about alternative treatment, had used or expressed a belief in the effectiveness of most CAM therapies within the last year. “CAM literacy” would increase competencies and skills among doctors and other health professionals and should begin to be a required component in the curriculum in allopathic medical schools, as that would benefit a large majority of the population who look for natural options before getting something prescribed to them for their ailments.
I could see in reading the research articles, that people express popular interest in natural forms of medication, but can conclude that many do not feel confident enough in it’s benefits and treatment. There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to alternative care, and further research should be done to increase awareness, though many know it does work and have benefits that allopathic treatment does not. Patients also find comfort in natural care because it supports control, autonomy, and are more customer-friendly. Patients do not have to be concerned about side effects, and it is usually a patient’s preference of care, if their health care professional gives them the option (Carey, 2001). James Geiger, MD Anesthesiologist stated, “How can we increase patient satisfaction? More and more of you are asking for recommendations in alternative care. Unfortunately too many physicians are uneducated and just say no, because they don’t know. Doctors should empower you to use what you feel is safe. You have a great awareness of your own body and you have a right to express what you would like to have. “ (Geiger, 2013)
Another interesting thing mentioned above was that women expressed a greater belief of alternative medicines benefits, which may impact the future of the medical field as more women are entering it, which may allow for further education and emphasis on it. If more women enter do continue to enter the field, there will be smaller barriers to CAM education, as faculty training may increase as students continue to show interest in it’s effectiveness and therapies.
From the research did, data I looked at and collected, and also from professional opinion from the research articles, I am able to conclude in an office (doctors, therapy, or natural solutions company), what colors should be present for a patient suffering from depression and/or anxiety, what smells should be in the air, as well as the layout of their webpage in order to best attract their customers.
The color found to be most pleasing to patients struggling with depression and/or anxiety, is blue. Blue expresses trust, intelligence, communication, serenity, reflection and calmness, which are all things a person needs when dealing with these ailments. In a doctors office, if the waiting room is in shades of blue, the patient will more likely feel calmer, and have less anxiety about their consultation. In a therapy session, if there are shades of blue in the room, the patient may feel like they can better trust their therapist or counselor. They’ll more easily be able to reflect, and will feel calm and cool in the sometimes intimidating environment. If a natural solutions company can express these feelings through their webpage or office through shades of blue, they’ll be more likely to share their products as well. Blue is serene and mentally calming, a huge advantage professionals can use to attract the mentally suffering. Blue can be used through the artwork, wall color, carpet, professional attire, or décor, or design.
Smell plays a major factor in making people feel comfortable. The best smells for those suffering mentally in depression and/or anxiety would be pine to relieve stress, citrus to feel more energized, vanilla to elevate mood, peppermint to aid in concentration, and jasmine to aid in regressing depressive thoughts. A variety of these fragrances should be used in an office setting to help ease those feeling depression and or anxious. These smells will help them feel more peaceful, and like there is still hope for them. Fragrance is another key to helping make people confident and comfortable.
Web page design can be a positive or negative influence in getting customers to an office or company. I went to three different websites to see from what I’ve learned from my research, which companies did a good job in making a clear, simple, and effective websites using proper colors and tools to ease customers minds to get them to use their services. The first webpage I went to was Intermountain Medical’s webpage, intermountainhealthcare.org. This webpage would be for someone interested in allopathic forms of care. My first impression was clean and simple, as well as friendly. It had revolving pictures of friendly looking nurses, children, and family. As I scrolled down, there were highlighted blue boxes with information and links depending on what I was looking for. I liked the use of blue, because as mentioned, blue is a calming color, and most need feelings of calmness when it comes to medical care, which can be stressful and overwhelming.
The next webpage I looked at was one for therapy or counseling. The first site I found for it was utahvalleycounseling.com. It also used revolving pictures of individuals to give a message of hope and clarity. They also used the color blue in their designs and even some of their pictures, which was pleasing. I found myself pleased with the simplicity and order of the website, it was very easy to follow.
The last webpage I went to was a natural solutions company, doTERRA. doTERRA is a essential oil company that distributes certified therapeutic grade essential oils for a variety of uses, including depression and anxiety. Their site used more green, purple, and brown, which led to a feeling of a more natural environment and the outdoors. So if I were depressed, looking for a solution, I may not continue my search here, as I may not be sure where to go exactly to find what I need. But, their site was by far most appealing in set-up, and quotes that got me thinking about my and my family’s health. Knowing their product is essential oils too; my nose is already imagining the pure fragrances. Between the three sites, I’m most drawn to doTERRA and would first search here for an option to better my health.
Color, smells, and organization of a company and their webpage can go a long way in attracting consumers. That again is the key concept that stuck out to me of the art of targeting and using sensory branding. The course led me to become curious about many solutions to problems we face everyday and for ailments that are only increasing in today’s world. If I were the CEO of a wellness company, I would follow whatever guidelines and research led me to do to maximize how many people I can help and continue to help, because there are countless people who need it.
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