“I love it, but I hate the colour”
You may have heard your customers say this or indeed you might have said it yourself when out shopping. Have you ever walked into a room and felt instantly calmer? Or see something that’s yellow and it makes you feel a little happier?
Colour is emotional, it evokes feeling and raises our senses. Our brains are hardwired to align colours to different meanings. Think of the colour red, it may make you think of love and passion or it might make you think of danger. Colour perception is completely subjective, as different people have completely different ideas and associations with colour. In fact, around 80% of the information a customer will receive from your logo is from the colours used.
And herein lies the challenge for brands – how do you pick a colour that will encourage customers to buy your products without alienating people?
The simple fact is you can’t – as with all brands, you cannot universally appeal. For example, there will always be people that will buy Nike and others that will buy Adidas.
The use of colour is fundamental to your brand and colour should be used to reinforce your positioning, personality and product or service. It’s part of the core expression of your brands DNA.
So how can you decide on a colour? Well, to start you can ask yourself:
Is it masculine or feminine or both?
Fun or serious?
High-end or value?
Heritage or contemporary?
Extroverted or introverted?
By defining these characteristics, you are en-route to choosing your brands colour palette. Whilst you cannot appeal to everybody, different colours have different associations that will align with your answers above. Read more on the Psychology of Colour:
This bold colour is very emotive and can trigger positive feelings around power, love and fearlessness or adversely to anger, aggression and danger.
Often described as warm, it is often seen as light-hearted, confident and friendly. However, its light-hearted nature can be perceived as immature.
Associated with optimism, yellow is another warm colour that’s associated with happiness and extroverts. But it can also be seen as a cautious colour with cowardice.
A calm colour related to health, nature, growth and wellbeing. But this earthy tone can also come across as bland, and for some even envy.
A calming colour that evokes strength, trust, security and logic. However, it can come across as cold and emotionless.
This colours roots are embedded with superiority and royalty and is often used to denote prestigiousness. On the opposing side, it can be associated with decadence, excess and suppression (i.e. ‘it’s not for me’).
Its immediate association is with femininity but can also be seen as creative and caring. Adversely, it can turn off both males and females who do not want to be a ‘stereotype’.
Evokes feelings of sophistication, authority and seriousness. Although it can also be perceived as oppressive, cold and even related to death.
That’s not to say that the negatives aren’t right for your brand. Take owning a funeral parlour as an example, then black (death) would suit your brand. The above list is not exhaustive and subtle changes of shade to each colour can move the dial on customer perception.
So, let’s have a look at some brands and the rationale behind their colour.
British Airways logo
A brand whose values are trustworthiness and reliability use blue, which naturally align with these values. They have coupled the blue with an accent colour of red, which signifies warmth and friendliness, denoting the experience they hope to offer you on board.
Royal Mail logo
Red is somewhat a heritage colour for the brand. In 1874, postboxes were changed from green to red to ensure they stood out clearly on streets and has been at the heart of the brand since, making their identity from their logo through to their vans and bikes instantly recognisable.
The colour of each brand above relates to their core values, whether it is through heritage or market positioning. Their colour choice helps them own their space within its market and helps reinforce what it stands for to customers.
Remember that statistic that around 80% of the information a customer will receive from your brand’s logo is the colour? Let’s take two examples: firstly British Airways, an established brand whose values are trustworthiness and reliability. Secondly, Virgin a brand that’s built on the value of ‘changing business for good’ and is known to ‘stir up’ the markets it enters as a rebel.
Now, let’s swap their colours.
British Airways immediately loses its trust and reliability starts to look and feel like a more economy option. Virgin on the other hand no longer feels like the ‘rebel’ that’s there to stir-up the industry, it starts to feel the safe and boring, which is not what the brand stands for!
Choosing your brand colour isn’t a lighthearted decision. In fact, some brands go so far as to trademark their colour so no-one else can replicate it, they are in essence owning a colour. Marlboro trademarked the ‘Marlboro Red’, a colour that was specifically mixed and no matter what communications were produced globally, every printer they used had a swatch to match to.
Does your brands colour palette reflect its DNA? Perhaps it did at one stage but with changing markets and consumer attitudes it may no longer be relevant. Perhaps you have a brand or product you’re looking to launch and don’t know what colours are right for you?
Whatever the case, we have a team of brand experts that can help you find the right shade!
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