Branding 6: Colours

psychology of colour

Now that we’ve covered some of the basics of what branding is and how it represents you and your business we can start to talk about the various building blocks of a brand starting with colours.

Black and White

It’s hard to talk about the different colours without considering the absence of colour. Black and whites are not only bold colour options but it’s always a good idea when designing anything from a flyer to a website to first design it in simple black and white. This will help you understand if the design works in the most basic terms before you even add colour in. In terms of what Blacks and Whites say about your brand, they both represent minimalism and both have become more popular as designers have embraced a ‘less is more’ approach.Black generally is more associated with higher value and Luxury.

Rainbows

Although some ‘mega brands’ such as the likes of Google, Ebay and Windows employ 4 or more colours, this is not generally advisable. Rainbows are always in danger of looking garish and overly complicated and will cost you a small fortune to print. If you do use multiple colours they should all compliment each other rather than be a broad mix. For most businesses however I would advise picking one primary colour to associate your business with.

Colours and Meaning

Although certain colours have strong associations, this will never be true of all the people all the time. Many colours have vastly different interpretations in different colours. When I was a boy I remember asking my Uncle what his favourite colour was and he said Black, to him black was the colour of the night and danger where to my child’s mind black was only the colour of a garage door. Although right now you may be running your business out of your back bedroom, it’s important to think about the colours and branding you use in a wider context and not just design something you like. Never the less a rough guide might be:

Greys: A light grey tends to symbolise a neutral and calming colour, used by brands such a Wikipedia and Apple. A dark grey tends to be associated with experience and often used for professional service firms such as Lawyers.

Greens: A peaceful colour, often associated with the planet and plants. The human eye can see more shades of green than any other colour but despite how common it is, green can be a very strong colour and can easily overpower the eye. Used by agricultural machine manufacturer John Deere, Land Rover and Tropicana.

Blues: Interesting fact about Blue is that it is the most popular colour for both men and women. It’s associated with intelligence and is trust and is probably the most used colour by B2B brands, used by companies such as Facebook, Dell, HP and Twitter. Blues are often associated with communication and thus has been used by a lot of social media companies.

Purples: Associated with both imagination and wisdom,  a violet purple will also have associations with some sort of spiritual connection. Used by SYFY, Disney and Cadbury who all use a darker, richer purple. two interesting facts about purples, firstly it is the colour most likely to be associated with a cheap and nasty brand if you get the wrong tone and a psychologist once told me people who said purple was there favourite colour tended to be a little weird…make of that what you will.

Reds: A bold colour, often used to represent youthfulness and excitement, red is one of the most primal of the prime colours and can signify both passion and danger. (Although when wasn’t passion dangerous?) Coke, Nintendo, Lego and Netflix are all examples of brands using Red. Red is not a very subtle colour and demands your attention.

Oranges: Orange is a cheerful, bright, confident colour. Obviously it has a big association with the fruit of the same name  and is used by a companies as diverse as Nickelodeon, Fanta and Hooters. Orange is a more detersive colour than you might expect though, in fact people are more likely to react angrily to someone wearing Orange and is is the least popular colour with both men and women.

Yellow: Yellow is a bold, optimistic colour and is often described as a “buying colour” as it encourages positivity. As you may have noticed, yellow is the primary colour on all my blogs etc and I am often asked why. Well, when I was a boy, our teacher was handing folders for our assignments there was only one folder and I shot my hand straight up to make sure I got it. That way my folder was the easiest one to find giving me a good 10 more minutes to do my work.

As above, there are no definitive answers when it comes to the psychology of colours, we all have our own experiences and preferences.

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