Colour Your World: The Effects of Colour in Branding

It’s common knowledge that colour affects us all psychologically, and the same can be said (perhaps especially so) in branding. How can you best take advantage of colour for your brand? Whether you’re creating your brand from scratch or re-branding, bear the following in mind.

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The Case of McDonald’s

Perhaps one of the best known and best implemented uses of colour is from McDonald’s iconic red and yellow colour scheme. This is not done by accident nor is it coincidental – McDonald’s chose these colours strategically.

Red is known to stimulate your appetite and excite you, while bright yellow grabs our attention and represents happiness and optimism. Now this doesn’t imply that everyone will react the same way to seeing the golden arches, but it does mean that your average Tim and Jane are far more likely to experience these feelings subconsciously while driving by the nearest Macca’s.

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Why Colour Matters

The use of colour on our psychology has been studied since the 1940s with the work of Kurt Goldstein. Among all of the visual stimuli that exist in marketing and branding, colour stands out the clearest and conveys moods or emotions without needing to be read, as with text. It’s one of the most fundamental stimuli in human cognition, so it makes sense that the correct use of colour matters a whole lot more than most of us may think it does!

Here’s what colour is capable of doing in terms of branding:

  • It can carry a specific meaning;
  • The meaning of the colour can be learned (through society, culture) or biologically innate;
  • Colour causes an immediate mental evaluation by the person perceiving it;
  • The impact of colour on our cognition is recognised immediately;
  • Context has a significant impact on how we perceive colour.

Culture & Society

For local businesses in Australia, bear in mind that Western cultural perceptions of colour are the norm. This means that black can signify both sophistication and mourning, depending on the context. In Eastern Asia, however, white would be the colour of choice for evoking these feelings. This small example exhibits the degree to which businesses operating internationally must exercise caution when developing a brand for a global audience.

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Get a Feel for Single Colours

While you may have your own innate reaction to certain colours, generally speaking Western societies have a broad range of feelings and emotions that can be either positive or negative when seeing a specific colour. The following guide is a good starting point for learning about the psychology of individual colours.

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Which Colour is Best for My Brand?

It really, really depends on a wide range of factors such as what your business does, who your target market is, what type of feeling you want to evoke from your clients, and much more. There’s no single colour that works best for all businesses, so it’s certainly worth your time to consult with a graphic design expert to help you navigate colours that work best for your specific circumstances.

Things get even messier when dealing with colour combinations, since some colours are supposed to complement one another, other times contrast on purpose, and the combination of colours can synergistically alter the entire meaning of your branding. Fortunately, there are some general guidelines out there to help you navigate the world of colour palettes, but when in doubt speak with a graphic design consultant.

Go Graphics

The signage and graphic design professionals at Go Graphics specialise in aesthetically-pleasing designs that stand the test of time. Get in touch with us today to learn more about brand design and redesign with colours that fit your brand.