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How the Psychology of Colour Affects Your Brand

May 2020Becky

You’ve heard the phrases ‘feeling blue’ and ‘seeing red’? There’s a reason behind why we say them, and whether you know it or not, it affects how you interpret other brands and how your customers interpret yours.

Colours have an intrinsic connection to our emotions and there have been numerous studies on how we attach our feelings to different colours, right down to specific shades. For example, a 2010 study¹ carried out by the University Hospital South Manchester found that light blue was not associated with being in a bad mood, whereas dark blue was, and that healthy people were more likely to choose the colour yellow to reflect their mood, whilst those who were depressed chose grey.

Of course, there are other factors as to how your brand is perceived, and colour is just one of the characteristics that shape how people perceive your brand, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Here we take a look at how different brands have used colour psychology to their advantage, and sometimes disadvantage.

Bold, passionate, dangerous, sexy – there are a number of high-intensity emotions connected to this colour and it’s often associated with success.

A 2005 study² found that sports teams that consistently wore red were more likely to win than those who wore other colours, and it’s been noted to prompt people to take action, especially with impulsive purchases which is the reason a lot of buy it now buttons and sale events are red too.

In fact, Coca-Cola has become so intrinsically linked with the colour red, that some people now (mistakenly) believe that Santa Claus changed his colour to match them. That’s some power!

Cool, calm, trustworthy and stable, blue indirectly boosts big sales because of its ability to make people feel less anxious and more secure – which is why companies relying on large, costly and important transactions, such as holidays, insurance and finance, regularly use this colour.

If your company relies on an honest and ethical reputation, then blue is your colour. Think the NHS for starters – it’s reassuring, sterile and safe. PayPal also uses blue to great effect – the combination of light and dark blue shades encourage the customer to feel safe and secure in their transactions, even when spending a large sum. Clever work.

It’s not easy being green, apparently, but some brands sure make it worth their while. Associated with balance, harmony, renewal and growth, a number of brands use it to convey freshness or an organic and ethical ethos, such as food subscription company Hello Fresh, or beauty brands Garnier, Simple and M.O.A.

Green’s outdoorsy look and feel is in no way a passive colour though, it fares just as well as red does in terms of ‘buy now’ buttons and is especially effective for consumer electronic companies, where green buttons slightly outperformed red in A/B testing.

Because of its active and natural associations, brands which want to portray an ecologically sympathetic ethos (whilst not necessarily being so) choose green. Think John Deere, Land Rover and BP – whilst their product offerings aren’t particularly good for the environment, their branding suggests a grassroots, organic attitude, perhaps in a bid to offset the effect their products actually have on the environment.

Summery, bright and definitely eye-catching, it’s impossible to be anything other than happy when you look at yellow, yet it’s used surprisingly sparingly in branding.

But why? 

Well, FIG would steer away from using the colour yellow as your predominant brand colour simply down to the fact that it’s hard to decipher on white, so designing things like letterheads, business cards, magazine articles for instance, which are often printed on white card or paper, would unearth unnecessary challenges and make the branding hard to decipher.

But that’s not to say it can’t be done. Darker shades, which veer more towards orange or gold, can be used to portray high class, luxury goods such as champagne (think Veuve Clicquot), whilst lighter shades are used to highlight information, industry or danger, seen in the branding for Post-It Notes, JCB and hazard signs the world over.

Why not take a look at the different brands you see this week to see if you can detect a common theme amongst them. You might be surprised!

If you’re looking to update your brand, why not talk to FIG first to see how we can help? Call us on 01457 857111 or email [email protected]


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