From the bright red that we associate with Coca Cola to the stark white that makes us think Apple, colour is everywhere when it comes to branding. And it's more relevant than you might think. Your brand's colours can play a role in how your company is perceived, what kinds of customers you attract, and even how likely your brand is to be chosen against your competitors.
If you're considering rebranding your business, creating a logo or branding for the first time, your choice of colour should be one of the first things you think about. Want to know more? Read on for all the details of why brand colours matter, what different colours mean, and how you can make sure you're giving the right message to your audience:
What's the connection between brand colours and customer perception?
The way we connect colours to perceptions and emotions is known as colour psychology. An often-used term in marketing, colour psychology, defines a brand and logo based on its colour and how it affects our shopping habits. While mega-brands may have enough sway to use any colour – and maybe even influence the way we feel about specific branding – for most businesses, fitting into the pre-existing 'colour emotion spectrum' is the best way to go.
Why is colour so integral to your brand, and why should it be a top consideration in any branding process? Here are just a few of the ways that colour can influence how your customers think about you:
Recognition and association
A recognisable colour and logo can go a long way towards making customers think of you first in their specific niche. The classic taxi or cab is an excellent example of this concept. In a movie or TV show, you'd always know which car is a taxi cab - thanks to the vehicle's bright yellow colour. Similarly, our brains associate colours with specific brands, and we use colour to compartmentalise and remember specific things.
Mood and emotion
When you get into the finer details of brand colours, you can see how specific shades and combinations are chosen to affect mood and behaviour. According to the experts, McDonald's signature yellow and red combo was selected to make people feel hungry. This may be why many other fast-food places mimic similar palettes. Psychology is powerful in branding, and harnessing it correctly can help your brand to come out on top.
Professionalism and style
Colour also plays a role in how professional we perceive a business to be. For example, a business logo with clashing neon colours and a Papyrus font is far less professional-looking than the sleek style used by Calvin Klein. Whether you want to make your brand appear youthful and casual or formal and professional, colour is an important component and vital consideration in how your brand is perceived by others.
What do different colours mean?
Yellow is the colour of warmth and optimism and is generally used by brands wanting to appear more down-to-earth, friendly and pleasant. Subway, Post-It and McDonald's are all examples of this extroverted, approachable colour choice.
The colour of cheerfulness, friendliness and overall confidence, orange, is outgoing and often quite playful in branding. Good examples for orange would be TV platform Nickelodeon, Fanta, and even internet browser Firefox.
Red is as bold as it gets and is active, exciting, and powerful in equal measure. Coca Cola's vibrant, recognisable shade of red is the first brand that comes to mind. Nintendo, Virgin and Kellogg's all fall under the 'red' umbrella too, reflecting their bold and dynamic marketing and branding.
The shade of creativity, purples and pinks can be associated with luxury or femininity in some cases. Notable purple and pink brands would be Mattel's Barbie, Cadbury, and Aussie, all of which focus on creative advertising and play.
Blue is a dependable and calming shade – which is why many hospitals are often painted with pale blue hues. In marketing, blues can mean a brand that's dependable and strong. HP, Dell, Oral B and even Facebook are all examples of brands wanting to create trust.
The use of green shades is widespread in brands that are all about the natural, whether it's health or peaceful growth. Notable green brands are Starbucks, The Body Shop and Android. Green is also the colour of money, which is worth considering in your branding.
Grey isn't necessarily boring. As a colour that provides balance and simplicity, many huge companies like Apple, Nike and Chanel opt for an understated design that features classic lines and minimalism for a high-end feel.
What about other colours?
From the rainbow of Google and eBay to the browns used by brands like UPS, there's a world of colour out there. If you're considering colour psychology for branding, opting to stick in the range of shades relevant to your niche may be the better approach to branching out. Consumers like familiarity – and when it comes to your brand, a colour that matches their expectations can make all the difference.
How can you make sure your brand gives the right message?
Starting your brand by selecting your brand colours is an excellent place to start. It means you don't have to work new colours into existing designs. You're starting with a clean slate for better success. By picking a colour that suits how your audience will want to see your brand and developing an understanding of colour psychology, you're far more likely to be giving the right message in the first place.
It's also well worth researching your specific audience and competitors to understand what they want to see. While you may think your brand needs to be aggressive and assertive with bright reds, you may find your potential customers are looking for a brand with a positive, playful, and cheerful feel – which is more suited to yellows and oranges.
By understanding your audience, you're better placed to choose brand colours and design that suits their needs. With colour psychology and an understanding of how branding works, creating a compelling brand that works for your audience is a far easier task.