Lesson 2: Colours and your brand

 

Colour is incredibly important to a brand. It can help give subconscious visual clues to your audience and can even set you apart from your competitors. It’s no wonder that when you think of a popular brand, the first few descriptors will probably be the colour scheme of its logo. We’re going to discuss how colour psychology can affect a brand.

In this lesson we will: 

  1. Review basic colour psychology

 

 

Step 1: Review basic colour psychology

Just like with typography, the choice you make for the colours of your brand can say a lot about your brand's personality and someone who sees your brand will make judgments about it based on its visual appearance.

Remember that for all the colours, different hues can evoke different reactions. Brighter hues of colours may feel more energetic, while more toned down hues may have a different feel all together, depending on the colour. When you look at a colour, trust your gut in what your immediate reaction to it is. When in doubt, ask a friend!

Since there are also lots of colours to choose from, we’re going to go over the basic psychology of each one to help you make this decision.

 
 

Red

  • Speaks to love, anger and all sorts of passionate emotions.

  • Full of energy, vibrancy and is very powerful.

  • Things to consider when choosing red: how high energy, how bold and vibrant do you want your brand to be

    • Different hues may evoke different reactions - Brighter red hue = may feel more energetic

  • Brands that use red - StaplesMcDonald’s, and Muji

 

Orange

  • Can be tricky to use effectively - can speak to feelings of danger or caution

  • Though when used in a fun, vibrant brand, orange can compliment and tie a whole palette together

  • When found in nature, orange has brown or yellow hues and is a lovely warming tone.

  • As a pure colour, bold orange is best used sparingly (UNLESS that's what you're going for!)

  • Things to consider when choose orange: it is often considered a “cheap” colour

    • Meaning it is usually attached to brands that offer low cost options within their industry, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

  • Brands that use orange - TangerineHome Depot, Veuve Clicquot

 

Yellow

  • Speaks to love, joy and cheery feelings

  • Reminiscent of sunshine and gives a sense of happiness, fun energy, and summer feelings

  • Being a bright, punchy colour, yellow can assist in giving brands that touch of wow factor

  • Things to consider when choosing yellow: yellow can also be seen as a cautionary colour (think hazard tape)

    • the brightness of a yellow may also come across as “cheap” in a brand palette, which again is not necessarily a bad thing.

  • Brands that use yellow Moment Meditation, Ikea, Cheerios

 

Green

  • Usually reserved for natural companies, eco-friendly companies.

  • But is also very popular among corporations as it is a trustworthy colour (and the colour of money)

  • Great for food companies (Can summon a feeling of hunger within you!)

  • Things to consider when choosing green: choose your hues wisely, there’s a huge divide between a lime green colour versus a lush forest green.

    • Dark hues work well as a more neutral colour in a palette, can feel earthy, rich and grounded

    • Lighter hues evoke a sense of vitality and growth

  • Brands that use greenStarbucksVega, National

 

Blue

  • Blue is a popular colour because it’s very dynamic and easy to pair with, definitely a crowd favourite

  • As a light colour it is calming and relaxing and is usually reserved for more peaceful brands like spas or hospitals - it's slightly cold feeling lends itself well to cleanliness and sterility

  • As a darker hue, it speaks of trust and intellect

  • Think banks, cops and lawyers as it holds respect, class and wealth. 

  • Things to consider when choosing blue: Certain hues can be perceived as cold and unfriendly

    • It could have the effect of making your audience feel unwelcome or sad.

  • Brands that use blue - Royal Bank of Canada, Intel, American Express

 

Purple

  • Typically thought of as a royal colour because it was a very difficult colour to find naturally in the world and therefore wasn't introduced to natural dyes until much later in history.

  • It's deep, rich colour makes you think of luxury, nostalgia and these days, magic!

  • Purple can also be quite a neutral colour - and matched with most of the spectrum quite easily.

  • Things to consider when choosing purple: Great as an accent colour - too much purple could make your brand feel a bit self-important

    • Afterall, it is the colour of royalty.

  • Brands that use purple - Oki Doki, Hallmark, Cadbury

 

Pink

  • Primarily considered a more “feminine” colour associated with love and romance

  • That being said there are lots of tones and shades of this colour that can speak to a range of vibes

  • Paler pinks can be viewed as childish, girly, even calming

  • Bright pink gives off the feeling of joy and vibrancy

  • Things to consider when choosing pink: There are a lot of connotations associated with the colour pink already, so use it wisely

    • The fact that “Pink is for girls” has been drilled into the psyche of the general population for so long, it is hard to go against the grain of that thinking

  • Brands that use pink - T-Mobile, BreastCancer.org, Financial Times

 

Black & White

  • Black and white (and shades of grey) can be used as much or as little as you like.

  • It’s especially useful when you have a lot of colour photography.

  • Using just the two for your brand can make it feel minimal and contemporary

  • Paired with black and white photography, it can be very versatile and lend itself to moody brands with lots of attitude

  • It might also make your brands feel more classic and traditional.

  • Black on its own has a strong, leading quality, while white feels more pure and sterile.

  • Pairing with an accent colour is a great way to use colour without having to put too much effort into it.

  • Things to consider when choose black & white: Black and white is a great base to work with, but you’ll need to carefully consider your imagery and text as that will further dictate the tone you’re trying to convey.

    • Imagery and graphics can be especially powerful in a black and white brand

    • Read more about the use of black and white to understand how other graphic elements are so important.

  • Brands that use black and white - Elite Model Management, Scheltens & Abbenes, 4 1/2

 
 

We hope you enjoyed this quick lesson into colour psychology. Next we’ll move on to what is the best way to choose the fonts and colours for your brand. Let’s go!