brand colour

What your brand colours are telling your customers

My last post mentioned in passing that it can be a very bad idea to use your favourites as brand colour. Just in case there’s someone who can be lost on what am referring to, Ill break it down.

From your logos, to website theme, product packaging and business cards you use colours. This might sound peculiar but most business owners only think of brand colour in terms of how good it looks and fail to realize colours are another marketing tool. So the essence of this piece is to give a basic guide to choosing colours for your business.

Every time you admired an unfamiliar design it’s because the colour said something to you, now we don’t need to know what it says in fact most people can’t exactly say why they like red or green clothes, because the power of colour is subtle yet salient. It can speak a thousand words without saying anything.  The best part about utilizing this marketing tool is that you don’t need extra text to explain why you chose that colour, it just has the power to affect human emotions and behavior by itself.

Making brand colour work for you is simply identifying what each colour says and using it to your advantage.

Photo: Fast Company
Photo: Fast Company

RED draws attention and is almost always noticed first in the overall text and design, and the reason why it’s always used for call to actions such as ‘buy now’ ‘SALE!’ or ‘Donate’. Red is the colour that says look at me instead, so if you do not want something to be looked at instead of the other do not use red. We will see the red first because it’s high energy and strength draws us in. A bit of red in a logo or an entirely red logo will stand out anywhere, if the colours surrounding it are too soft, they will fizzle out. That’s how powerful it is and take a look at brands and activities associated with red; Coca-cola, TED, red sport cars, test scores etc.

BLUE is safe, it stands out yet without the domineering power of red. It’s the safest colour to use and says you can trust me; implying trust, dependability and honesty. The sky is blue, we see it every day of our lives and have learned to trust it won’t crash on us.

PINK is popular for feminine and compassionate causes because its soft and nurturing. It doesn’t threaten anyone and one look at pink you think femininity which is symbolic of softness and innocence. Pink is popular for babies, health related causes and women.

BLACK is close to red, but where red says look at me, black says I am in charge. Its sends a message of power and authority, class and sophistication. Its no surprise its popular among the business world and a staple colour for high profile events. One look at a black business card, you think this people must be good!

WHITE works like a board that you can do anything on and that’s because it has no personality of its own and relies of what you put on it to make meaning. White logos must have another coloured background or strong embedded symbols to make sense think NIKE! It’s perfect for expressing anything because it’s the perfect canvas for any design work.

GOLD as a colour sends the exact same message gold would.  It’s highly valuable, with a lot of prestige and luxury that only few can afford. So if you product is all of this qualities it makes sense to use gold. If it has a little bit of these qualities then throw in a bit of gold, but if it doesn’t using gold would be a big branding mistake and will have subtle negative effects on how people perceive and respond your brand.

This is only a scratch of the psychology of colours in business just to give you an idea on why it wouldn’t be such a great idea to use your favourite colour in a business that isn’t you.  You can read more if you want to launch colour-wise designs.