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The Design Blog: Brand, Colour & Psychology

What is branding?

The term “brand” was first used more than half a century ago as a way for cattle ranchers to identify their animals. The phrase transitioned more towards how we know it today when it was used for packaging goods like Coca-Cola in the late 1880s. Brands were used to differentiate products from their broad competition.


Understanding Colour


A brand’s logo and visual identity can include a number of visuals such as shapes, symbols, numbers and words. However, the main part of your brand that people remember most is colour. In fact, research shows that colour can increase brand recognition by up to 80%. When it comes to branding, the power of colour is both emotional and practical. While choosing the right colours can enhance your brand's reputation, poor colour selection can be a hindrance.



Power of Red

Red is a physical colour and is used as a way of communicating with the audience to grab their attention. In colour phycology, red is the most intense colour, hence why it’s mostly used on labels or call to actions. Red is also used to build up excitement, and that’s a reason why ‘YouTube” have used red in their logo - it’s an example of entertainment and experience for users that they can always count on and never get tired of. Use of too much red, however, can show danger or aggression.



Intellectual Blue

Like red, blue is a way of communicating, except not for attention or for a physical reaction. Blue is the colour of the mind, connoting peace, calm and harmony. It is used a lot in tech brands like Oral-B as it helps position the brand as reliable, safe and trustworthy. You will also see blue on networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Skype, again showing the audience they are trustworthy and linking back to the theme of communication.


Emotional Yellow


Yellow is one of the strongest colours psychologically as it is the most visible colour from a distance, hence why it’s used for street signs. Yellow revolves around sunshine, evoking feelings of happiness and optimism. Consumer brands often use yellow in their branding. Ikea, for example, will have a base of customers looking to buy furniture for their home. This milestone of buying and furnishing a new home often connotes happiness and positivity. It can, however, be hard to get the right shade of yellow, as the wrong shade could cause the brand to look cheap.



Balance of Green

In colour psychology, green is associated with nature, growth and fertility. When it comes to nature, green represents plant life and growth, although it can also suggest wealth and riches - ‘the colour of money’. US dollars are green and therefore associated with finance and stability.


The use of green was made popular by the agriculture brand John Deere. The colour green is so fixed into their branding that even their equipment is the same shade of green as their logo. Pick your shade of green carefully as brighter, lighter greens can show growth, life and renewal as apposed to darker, richer greens which represent status and wealth.

While many niches use common colours, such as blue for tech brands and network platforms, you don’t always have to follow the rules. Think of choosing colours that represent what you want your brand to be about or what you want your customers to feel when they see your brand.


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