When it comes to choosing colours to feature in your branding, don’t underestimate the power these can have. Colours evoke emotions and ultimately although subjective, could have a hand in the decisions customers make and whether your brand becomes recognised and remembered for all the right reasons.
The meaning of colours
Colour Psychology is the study of colours in relation to our reactions and behaviours around them. For example, does the colour of a jacket make you want to buy it? Does the packaging of one product over the other make you place that order? Does the colour of that button on the website make you want to click it? The short answer to these is yes, but the why behind it all is a little more difficult.
Along with the science behind the meaning of colours, the emotions and feelings related to them are equally determined by personal preference, associations and memories. For example, if you had a childhood memory of a favourite pair of blue shoes that you would wear continuously for months on end, you will more than likely have positive associations with the colour blue growing up which in turn could subconsciously have an effect on your brand choices in later life.
On the other hand, there is a universal spectrum for colours and their particular meanings and emotions they may evoke, and this is a great starting place when it comes to creating a brand identity.
Colour Psychology suggests the following about particular colours:
- Red -
- Positive = Love, Passion, Energy, Strength
- Negative = Anger, Defiance, Fight or flight mode
- Orange -
- Positive = Confidence, Success, Warmth, Fun
- Negative = Immaturity, Deprivation
- Yellow -
- Positive = Happiness, Cheer, Creativity, Friendliness, Confident
- Negative = Fear, Emotional fragility, Depression, Anxiety,
- Green -
- Positive = Nature, Health, Healing, Eco friendly, Sustainable, Balance
- Negative = Boredom and Bland
- Blue -
- Positive = Trust, Loyalty, Efficiency, Intelligence, Logic
- Negative = Cold, Unfriendly,
- Pink -
- Positive = Compassion, Sincerity, Love,
- Negative = Inhibition, Emasculation, Physical weakness
- Purple -
- Positive = Royalty, Luxury, Quality, Spirituality
- Negative = Introversion, Inferiority
- Brown -
- Positive = Dependable, Simple, Trusted,
- Negative = Lack of sophistication, Humourless
- Black -
- Positive = Security, Formal, Power,
- Negative = Oppressive and Cold
- White -
- Positive = Clean, Honest, Pure, Simplicity
- Negative = Unfriendliness and Elite
Impact colour choices can have
Along with the emotions and feelings above, brand colours play lots of other important roles within identities, for example:
Consistency - Using a unified palette of colours across all branding and marketing materials whether printed or digital maintains the brand image, reinforcing its values and personality, helping to aid recognition.
Differentiation - In a crowded market, the right colour choices can help your brand stand out and be distinct from the competition.
Target Audience - The right colour choice can perfectly match your specific target audience. For example, a high-end cosmetics brand may utilise a colour palette of white and purple to suggest the luxury price tag and the pure, high-quality ingredients used.
Accessibility - Colour choices are crucial when it comes to contrast in materials, printed and digital. Making sure that key content and elements are accessible to all.
Storytelling - Colour choices are often a part of the brand’s story and are key in suggesting its history, mission, vision and values.
Cultural meaning - Colours are also a key consideration if the brand is to sit in international markets. The meaning of a colour in Western cultures could be quite significantly different to those elsewhere, so make sure you do some research before settling on your brand palette.
As much as there have been numerous studies and research behind the theory of colours, we will never accurately predict how a customer will react to a specific colour used in a brand - it’s human nature; utterly unpredictable. However, next time you are considering colours for an identity, understanding the various factors that contribute to its meaning along with its various implications is definitely a great starting point.