Using Colour Psychology To Establish Your Brand
Whether we are aware of it or not, a lot of marketing is done at the subliminal level. The way colours, shapes, sounds and even smells make us feel can be used by your brand to provoke a certain response. When asked to “go to your happy place,” the majority of us would imagine a babbling brook, calm field, beach oasis or maybe even a calming waterfall. It is very rare for someone to imagine a room with a bright red flashing light or a pitch-black cave. The reason behind this is Colour Psychology, in that each colour elicits a specific emotion in us. Would fire engines or ambulances have the same effect if they were a delicate pink or gentle mauve? Let’s explore how these 7 popular hues can be used to establish a more concrete brand.
Red is the colour of urgency or call to action. The business plan of McDonald’s, for example, is contingent on getting consumers in and out as fast as they can, which is why they heavily feature red. Contrast this fast-food experience with fine dining and a slow sit-down restaurant to really see what we mean. Red is also the colour used for sales (think Target or Boxing Week Sales) because it wants the consumer to take immediate action and it emphasizes that the sale is time-sensitive and ending soon – so hurry!
If you gather a group of people in the room and ask them their favourite colour, chances are many of them will say blue. Science has found that not only do people like blue, but that blue is the most “trusted” colour, which is why it is so popular in branding. If you take a look at your credit or banking card, chances are it is blue because we want to trust our financial institution (think MasterCard or Capital One). Studies have also suggested that men tend to trust products more that feature blue in the branding, which is why a lot of products for men are branded with blue. Blue is also used to establish peace and calm in consumers.
We associate green with the environment, so it is often used for products that represent nature and healing. Many grocery stores use green in their branding, such as Whole Foods or Sobeys because they want to align themselves with having organic products. Green can also be associated with money, so many financial institutions and insurance companies will also use green (think Desjardins).
Purple is the colour of royalty. If you want to portray your brand as being luxurious, purple is a good option; think Hallmark with their crown logo or Purdys and their deep, rich chocolates.
While technically not a colour, we tend to associate black with power, stability and confidence. It can be difficult to use in branding because black is so dark, but many clothing companies will use it as it is viewed as timeless and therefore does not become outdated easily.
White again is technically not a colour, but is popular in marketing as it evokes the feeling of purity, cleanliness, safety and simplicity. is most commonly used by soap and cleaning companies, think Dove, bleach products, etc.
Gray can be tough in branding because it elicits two contradictory emotions. On one hand, we associate gray with wisdom (think a wise man with a long grey beard or a clever wizard), but it can also provoke feelings of loneliness and depression (think dark grey skies or a concrete sidewalk). We recommend using grey with a splash of colour to keep things light!
At the end of the day, these are just suggestions and helpful tips you can follow when “colouring” your brand. The most important part of your brand remains that it is authentic to you and that it resonates with the values you have established for your brand.
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Chris Simon is Creative Director at Hotspot Creative. With a demonstrated history of working in the marketing and advertising industry, he has a huge passion for helping small businesses realize their value and helping them showcase it.