My name is red, creative copywriting is blue and I have a green dog! Sounds strange doesn’t it? Nonsensical even. For me, it’s normal. In my mind’s eye, the letters of my name are all red and copywriting and content marketing, which is what I specialise in, is blue.
I have colour synaesthesia. It is often described as ‘extra’ brain wiring between senses. My perception of days, months, numbers, letters, subjects, and even people is associated with the experience of colour. What’s more, I can see an entire article or blog in blocks of colour depending on the emotion the content needs to project or the subject that is being covered.
Mapping and creative copywriting
I can map an entire piece of content based on how different subjects connect. I can also work out a content plan on the same basis. To me, it’s quite a scientific process. Entire paragraphs will have a different colour. The first paragraph is always red, as is the letter A and number 1. And the conclusion, when there is one, is sky blue.
Now, if I am inserting related keywords and synonyms into a blog or webpage for SEO purposes, these are orange. I can see them pop from the page and view their distribution throughout the text.
How did I know I have colour synaesthesia?
I was quite late in discovering my synaesthesia. Since I’ve had it as long as I can remember, I thought everyone had this innate sense of colour. I couldn’t imagine waking up on a Friday and it not being yellow.
It was when I attended a Radius 360 course about 15 years ago that I discovered it was relatively rare. Around 3% of the population has some form of official synaesthesia.
Finding out was a lightbulb moment. At the time, I was working for a large integrated marketing agency where I had PR account management responsibility for eight clients across very different sectors. Each client had their own colour and each of their target publications a shade of that colour! (honestly, it’s not as complicated as it sounds). For me, it meant I was able to establish many PR opportunities for clients, at speed.
We all have ways of categorising
The jury’s out on this, but many researchers believe we all have certain traits that are similar to synaesthesia. It happens when we bridge some experiences using our senses. On a basic level, perfume will remind you of a time in your life. On a more advanced level, you might have other ways of classifying and sorting information in your mind. Some people see days and months in a timeline format or in waves and others with spatial sequence synaesthesia (SSS) tend to see numerical sequences as points in space enabling them to have superb memories. That’s one I wish I had!
They’ll automatically use their synaesthesia to enhance their everyday abilities in the workplace.
How colour synaesthesia helps with creative copywriting
For me, my mind knows there’s a correct order of words to convey the strongest emotions to create the most persuasive copy. Before writing direct marketing, for instance, I architect the general order of emotions I want to evoke based on colour. Once I’ve decided the emotion for each touch-point, I then start crafting them.
When I explain this to people, they assume I tend to write consumer content, which I do. But my real passion is applying creative copywriting to corporate or technical content. I love the challenge of taking something complex and dissecting it into clearly defined elements I know will elicit a response. This is when my colour synaesthesia really comes into its own!