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The Role of Colour in Branding and Design

Branding is far more than just a logo. A brand is a theme, a vision, a story – and in many respects a brand is a feeling! It’s not some wishy-washy concept either – it’s science!

Managed carefully, your brand can evoke a feeling in your customers. That needs careful attention and constant work. When you get it right you’ll attract the right people more of the time – and your clients will be attracted you because they see the vision and share the beliefs that you do.


“All from a brand?”

Yes – all from a brand!


There’s more to this than meets the eye then? Actually, it’s only partly about what meets the eye. You see, your visual branding is projecting almost subliminal messages to your clients, customers and leads via your messages, marketing and logo.

You’re sending out messages based on deep and hard-wired human reactive systems whether you like it or not.

So, are you asking your customers to fight, fly or freeze? Or are you asking for love, saying you’re reliable, or showing them that you’re a calm and collected company?

There’s a lot of psychology at play here!

Colour plays a massive role in how memorable and recognisable a design is and in this blog we wanted to delve into that. What does your branding say and how do the colours you use convey that?


The human brain looks for trustworthy brands

Like it or not, research shows that as humans we’re mostly asleep! Experts say that nearly 95% of your day is run on auto-pilot and marketers know this. Branding with an eye on the colours that provoke the right reaction can really help you to gain the trust of those customers who are mostly working in auto-pilot.

Great design is about creating harmony and balance among the elements of a brand and helping them come together to create a final product that’s simply outstanding. The colours chosen by your designer play a huge part in that.

But it’s also about creating trust and building authority. Big brands do this well and as well as their alignments with celebs and viral campaigns, big brands use their branding to build trust. Colours have a big effect on this with colours like blue and purple both being seen as very trustworthy colours.


Colour affects the mood of the design

Colours actually affect your mood and when you think about it, this is a safety mechanism that used to serve us well. The more primitive humans didn’t even have language, so triggers like colours to show safe places or dangerous animals and foods were essential.

There’s a lot of research out there to show that we’re still operating on these programmes to this day and so the colour of your branding can be very powerful indeed.

Using red for example can incite anger, love, and passion. Using blue can create a sense of peace, serenity, and security.

The colours that you choose go far beyond your favourites – they’re deeply engrained into our minds and you’d do well to research these before deciding on your primary and secondary colours.


The colour palette of your design has an important job to do. The primary colour palette, which usually includes one or more colours, which will be included in your logo will also have a secondary colour palette that complements this and brings the design alive. The important part of this is that the colours do complement each other in terms of design but also in message, and you’ll see why when we get into the colour psychology.

Sticking to your chosen colour palette is important and you should refer to this whenever you create any type of marketing material. It needs to be blended into everything you do and every touch point of your business should be on brand and using the appropriate colours.

Most businesses will have brand guidelines and it’s highly recommended that you follow them, especially with the colours, as this will have a huge impact on your message!


Colour can be negative as well as positive!

Yes, colour can be a real positive in your brand, but it can be negative too.

Let’s say for example that you want to be a calm and peaceful brand. Maybe you’re a meditation consultant or you run a yoga studio. The last thing you need in your brand is anger, excitement, vibrant thoughts or even an overly expensive feeling.

Avoiding some colours is often a good step and to create the feeling of calm, serenity and energy (as with the above example) you’d be better with blues, greens, or oranges rather than red or yellows for example.

Contrasting colours also need to follow this trait so choose colours that complement the other colours as well as making sure it matches your overall message, too!


What do you want your brand to say? Choose a colour that says that.

This might sound really obvious now, but choosing the right colours are incredibly important to your brand message and what it is you want to convey to your customers. What are your core beliefs? What does your brand say? What do you want it to say?

Choosing the right colour palette needs a carefully considered approach as this could make or break your message. You’ll choose a tagline or company values depending on the nature of your brand or project, and your colours need to follow that hand-in-hand.


Colour contrast is key!

One colour can say one thing, and another can say something entirely different. Take Amazon for example. Amazon is the world’s leading e-commerce brand so you know they’ll have this down to every last detail. In fact, Amazon’s brand guidelines are well worth checking out as an example of why good companies are strict with their design guidelines to protect their brand.

The main visual branding is

  • White (simple, pure, clean)
  • Black (quality, trustworthiness, sleek)
  • And then orange (happy, positive, and full of energy).

Amazon contrasts these colours really well throughout their site and once you know this, you’ll see it everywhere. Take their ‘One-click’ buttons for example. The ‘Add to basket’ button is orange, but more yellow in colour (maybe to reflect the fresh, vibrant and exciting feel of ordering something new) but their ‘Buy Now’ button in a darker orange, a more pressing colour, nearer red which symbolises action but not too near so that you’re in any danger when you click it.

The colour of buttons has been well researched and some suggest that simply getting the buttons to stand out so they’re noticed is more powerful, but Amazon are purely in the orange camp with a happy and positive feel to their click.

If you’re looking to use colour to influence a buying decision then one of the most important things is contrast.


So what do the colours in your brand say?

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it gives you a really good start. As with anything like branding and design, you’re always advised to speak to the experts (that’s us) but here are some very simple guidelines to cement this idea of colour and psychology in branding.

  • RED – Excitement, strength, appetite
  • BLUE – calm, relaxed, trusted
  • GREEN – relaxing, fresh, symbolises moving forward
  • YELLOW – fresh, vibrant, creative
  • WHITE – pure, clean, unblemished, perfect, gentle, sleek
  • ORANGE – happy, positive, energetic
  • PURPLE – luxury, quality, trustworthy
  • PINK – positive, romantic, loving, and Smart (Oh OK, we added in Smart!)
  • BLACK – Classy, expensive, trustworthy, sleek

It’s obvious now why Ann Summers are pink, Apple are white and Morrisons are green and yellow, right?

The choice of colour in branding is key and if you’re looking to make true long-lasting impact then we need to go deeper and look into the mind of your customers. We’re all operating on a system that was build to keep us safe, show us excitement, and drive us to be hungry, passionate, take action and feel safe.

Doesn’t it make sense to align your brand with the right message?

If you’d like us to look at your brand colours to see whether they fit with your business just get in touch for a chat.

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