Colour is your brand's secret power. With so much psychology and emotions attached to the shades, it has the ability to make your audience feel all kinds of feels. Understanding how your brand uses colour could make a massive difference and increase your brand's recognition by 80%. This is because colour is both emotional and practical. On an emotional level, colour can affect how someone feels when they look at a brand, as it’s an instantaneous method for conveying meaning and messages without using words. On a practical level, it can help a brand stand out amongst others.
Here’s a quick guide to help you work out which colours to steer clear of and which ones to embrace.
Red is extreme. It is the colour of passion, seduction, danger and anger. It has the ability to stimulate desire but also pack a punch with its high visibility due to having the longest wavelength of all colours. It is a bold and energetic colour that portrays strength, confidence and power. Red is arguably the most stimulating of all the colours because of its effects on the psyche; like being able to reduce analytical thinking.
Hot tip: use red to stand-out from the crowd and ignite the senses but be clever when using it in branding so you stay away from negative connotations.
Ice creamery, Smitten uses a bright ruby red colour with illustrations to stand-out and induce excitement as well as hunger. If you didn’t feel like ice cream before, we betcha do now you do.
Named after the fruit, orange combines the warmth of red and cheerfulness of yellow which makes it feel fresh and youthful, as well as warm and exciting. Most people either love it or hate it, but there’re many different hues so there’s bound to be a shade for you. These range from a warm, spicy terracotta to a soothing, feminine melon.
Fresh tip: Orange is associated with excitement and fun so it’s well suited for a younger audience.
Bag designer Atem uses pastel terracotta that is gentle and calming. It’s also a colour associated with building materials and fabrics, to sandy landscapes and flowers which fits the brand’s natural ethos.
Yellow is an emotional one. It’s associated with happiness, optimism, sunshine and spring which communicates friendliness, joy and energy. Because of its high visibility, yellow is also the colour of caution, used for life vests, police tape and traffic signs.
Pro tip: Yellow may be one of the happiest colours on the palette but lurking around the corner are shades of yellow that can symbolise betrayal, egoism, and sickness.
Mailchimp uses a warm yellow which is great for energetic expression and memorability, as it stands out against the competition. Yellow is also the colour of bananas which is a nice nod back to the brand’s monkey mascot.
Green communicates two common meanings. The first is nature and the environment, the second is finance and wealth. In nature green represents the presence of water which, on a primitive level, is reassuring and calming. Convert this meaning to finance and green indicates wealth and stability.
Cool tip: Brighter and lighter shades of green are used to indicate vitality and freshness. Darker, richer greens represent wealth and prestige.
Fresh Nest is a non-toxic home cleaning service. The brand uses a sage green colour to communicate the brands ethical environmental focus and belief that fresh is a feeling, not a smell.
Communicating intelligence, trust, logic and calmness, blue is the colour of the mind and affects us mentally rather than physically (like red). Stronger blues encourage clearer thoughts whereas lighter blues will calm the mind and aid concentration. It is also the most universally preferred colour amongst men and women.
Smart tip: In large doses, blue can create a sense of depression or ‘feeling blue’ so make sure you choose your shade wisely.
Made Coffee must know most of us can’t function without a morning cup of liquid energy because they’ve gone with colours that give us all the help we need. The brand uses two shades of blue; deep blue to assist in a clearer thought process, and light blue to calm the mind and encourage concentration.
Purple is spiritual. It has a mysterious quality as well as being the colour of royalty. Historically, purple in nature was extremely rare so producing fabric dyes was costly, which meant only the Carters of the 1750s wore purple. Lighter shades convey light-heartedness, feminism and romance, whereas darker shades are more mysterious, intellectual and dignified.
Pro tip: Purple is best used for a female audience as research indicates that it doesn’t rank well for men.
Asprey is a luxury boutique that has been supplying royal families with crowns, coronets and sceptres since the 1700s. The deep purple colour aligns with the brand's royal ties and conveys a sense of premium luxury and exclusivity.
Because brown usually consists of red and yellow, is has close associations with the natural world, and is therefore a warm and reliable colour. Brown also resembles earth and conveys an organic, wholesome, simple and honest approach.
Honest tip: Brown is not a popular colour so be careful when using this colour in your branding and use it with a purpose.
Life Goes On - a Japanese homeware store uses the muted browns and organic shapes to reflect the idea of cultivated slow living and connecting to nature.
Pink is the colour of tranquillity and love. It has long been associated as a feminine colour, but recently it’s started to shift towards a more unisex audience. Pale pink is associated with tranquillity and calmness. At the opposite end of the scale, hot pink indicates energy, fun and excitement, and can appear quite warm.
Hot tip: Pink, although used mostly to market towards women, can still be used effectively for unisex brands and shouldn’t be overlooked .
Dreem’s mission is to ‘wake-up the world to sleep’. Inspired by the concept of pink noise, it breaks free from convention with electric pink, helping to position the brand in a fun and energetic light, and to showcase sleep as a life-enhancing experience.
The colour of luxury, black emits sophistication, glamour and timelessness but on the other end of the scale, death, evil and mystery. When used effectively, black can be just as memorable as a brand using colour.
Pro tip: Mix black with gold or silver for a touch of luxe, or a bright colour to make a statement.
Galamb Tailoring’s black brand identity oozes sophistication, luxury, and a sense of mystery with its stylish print applications and minimalistic branding.
White is pure. Just as black is absorbed, white reflects. White conveys sterility, purity and perfection. White has been used more regularly as of late to create a minimal and modern aesthetic in all types of design from web, graphic, interior and architecture.
Pro tip: White is bare so it can be hard to convey a personality for the brand.
Less is a German organic cosmetic skin care brand with a focus on less is more. The minimalistic approach is reflected by the brand's strong use of white, symbolising purity and perfection.
As always, good design starts with the audience in mind, so Superdream’s approach to colour is always guided by what our clients' wish to achieve with their branding. The market in which you will be promoting your business is vital to understand, as even the colour of your packaging or website can influence a customer’s behaviour. If you’re unsure, focus groups, split-testing and reems of past research are at our disposal to get your brand in the black.