Colour evokes different feelings, like red triggers feelings of passion, anger, violence and hunger. Yellow, another trigger of hunger, also evokes feelings of happiness, brightness, caution and creativity. In the branding and advertising industries, the use of colour is a vital tool for targeting the right audience using the power of colour and its effect on our emotions. For example, Coca Cola and McDonalds use colours in their logos that evokes feelings of hunger and excitement; red and yellow. Their philosophy is based around the reasoning that if an individual is hungry and drives by a food store with a logo that encompasses the colours red or yellow, that person would be more likely to stop for something to eat than any other colour they might use in their logo. Red and yellow also are vibrant colours that draw attention, thus perfect for drive-by advertising or branding that targets individuals who might be hungry. Smart huh?
As you can see colour plays a very important role when choosing a brand to represent a business and its goals. Another very important consideration is the target audiences and colours which associate with them, however let’s first look at the meaning of colours.
Black is known by most as the colour of darkness; however black also denotes class, elegance and formality. It is often used by expensive brands drawing upon the colour’s sleek, classy appearance and boldness. Mystery and power are also associated with the colour black often being used to give a “sexy” feel to a brand or advertisement.
Brown is an earthy colour, often associated with nature due to its similarity to the colour of wood and soil. This association, often combined with the colour green, is used by environmentally-friendly and organic industries to connect their branding with that of the raw, earthy and organic symbolism of the colour brown.
Red is the famous colour of passion, love, strength and danger. It grabs attention and envokes feelings of hunger, anger, violence and desire. Many food industries use red for the reason that it draws attention, if their stores are located along major highways and roads, and it also envokes feelings of hunger in the observer, the perfect reaction for their intended purpose. Red is a very powerful colour because of its richness, vibrancy and its ability to stand out from natural surroundings. For this reason red is used on warnings signs and items that you would want to draw attention to such as the red light at traffic lights, the “STOP” and “GIVEWAY” signs.
Grey is a neutral colour, signifying balance and indecisiveness. It is a combination of black and white which makes it a happy medium between the two. It is often decribed as an “emotionless” colour due to its impartialness, hence also the common saying, “it was a real grey area”. Due to this balanced and neutral symbolism, the colour, is often used by professional, corporate industries such as legal companies to give their customers an indication that they don’t take sides but instead focus on the facts and truths; that they are open minded.
Orange is the colour of Autumn. It delivers feelings of warmth and sunshine. The colour collaborates aspects of red and yellow, drawing upon the colour red’s feeling of strength with yellow’s cheerfullness, creating a stimulating colour of enthusiasm and vitality. Orange is often used in brands that encompass feelings of fun, vibrant and bright summer and stimulating emotions, for example Fanta soft drink.
Yellow is everybody’s happy colour. It’s a colour that is bubbly and bursting with life and creativity. On a more negative note it can also encompass feelings of jealousy and caution. When used in its darker shades, it can denote feelings of success and superiority.
Like the colour red, yellow also denotes feelings of hunger used in the logos of McDonalds, Subway and Hungry Jacks. It’s bright, drawing attention as it stands out from natural surroundings hence its use in road signs. The colour is used in brands that want to emcompass feelings of brightness, happiness and success such as Chuppa Chup and the charity fund Camp Qualtiy which has the tagline, “laughter is the best medicine” enhancing its emotional trigger of happiness in the logo.
Blue is the colour of calm and peacefullness. It is often associated with water and the tranquility is offers as a still or slowly running liquid. Blue encompasses feelings of friendship and comfortability, often used by brands that want to illustrate feelings of care and help such as aged care facilities, health and support groups. In today’s world the colour blue is also associated with masculinity and men.
Green is the colour of nature, often going hand-in-hand with the colour brown. It gives off a fresh, healthy and natural feel hence its frequent use in healthy eating, fruit and vege brands and advertising. Due to its direct representation of nature, in trees and grass, environmentally friendly companies often draw on this colour to reinforce their value, a focus on the environment and nature.
Negatively, however, green can also represent jealousy, sickness and greed following a common saying, “green with envy.”
Garnier beauty products use the colour green in their advertising and branding to encompass the idea that their product will make you feel fresh and in touch with nature, whereas Starbucks coffee want to give you a feeling that the coffee is of natural/organic origins from nature, even if these products aren’t “certified organic” or “natural”. It’s funny how colour impacts your emotions.
Purple since early historical times has been a symbol of nobility and richness. It was often worn as a symbol of wealth and superiority in medieval times. As times have passed the colour has also become known as one of mystery and magic, often used in children’s books decribing tales of magic and wonder. Cadbury chocolate incorporates the colour purple into their branding as one of their trademarked colours. It entices the consumer with a feeling of wonder and luxurious superiority as a quality chocolate brand. Another well known brand is Yahoo search engine, enticing the viewer with the excitement and wonder at all the things they could find and discover on the internet.
Pink is the soft, cuddly colour of love and caring. It is often associate with femininity and women. Companies often used the colour to attract attention of young children in particular young girls and women. The Barbie brand targets young girls representing “Barbie” and the ultimate woman. The Breast Cancer Foundation uses the colour pink to encourage feelings of support and care for women who are experiencing or know someone affected by breast cancer.
White is the opposite of black, it signifies light, innocence and purity. It is often used in the advertisement of cleaning products and in health industries such as in hospitals, to denote a feeling of cleanliness. “It’s not clean, unless it’s pure, sparkling white,” is a common ideaology in the modern world’s fight against germs and disease. The softness and purity of the colour also associates the colour with life, both arriving and departing, often used by both baby and funeral companies.
When deciding on the colour choice for you brand there are a few things you need to take into consideration:
There are a few tools that can assist with branding decisions and either make or break a good design that you need to be weary of.
When choosing colour there are three colour types you can choose from depending on your media intent.
• CMYK is the colour mode Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (K). This colour mode is used for print based materials at a resolution of 300dpi, this produces a crisp images that inkjet printers can easily recreate more detailed and accurate.
• RGB is the colour mode Red, Green and Blue. This colour mode is for use on screen or web for images and content at a resolution of 72dpi.
• Pantone colours are a universal colour system that allows you to choose a colour and it remain consistent regardless of the media you use it on, whereas CMYK and RGB colours when used on the opposite media, say RGB on print content, the quality is often lost and the image colour is noticeably different.
Therefore when choosing your brand colours and designing your brand it is a good idea to take into consideration the different platforms it will be used on and the different colour choice for each media platform.
It is incredible the impact colour has on our lives, it’s everywhere! As you walk around today, look about you at the use of colour in our society and what it tells you, you may find your eyes have been opened to a whole new world.