Colour Psychology in Branding

Colour Psychology in Branding

Posted on February 14, 2014 by Ihtezaz

Today we’ve been looking at colour and its use in branding.

We are subconsciously subjected to the effects of colour psychology by brands on a day-to-day basis, and although we are unaware of it they will invoke certain emotions within us – encouraging us to feel a certain way towards a brand or product; making assumptions regarding what they stand for.

As you can see from this infographic it can be applied to any brand, and although some may be unintentional; the majority will have been designed using colour psychology to translate a message  which projects the brand in certain ‘favourable’ light. Colour psychology is a powerful tool. Although there are people that believe that there are too many variables such as, personal taste, cultural background, upbringing etc. which can affect peoples attitudes and perceptions. However I think although the latter will factor and possibly override or compete with naturally occurring human reactions, there is definitely a common shared response to brands and colours – even if it’s as simple and basic as red = warm & blue = cold…

brand-colours-psychologyFor example, in Manchester there are many famous brands which are synonymous with the city and region. Such as, Manchester United – Red is a very primal colour associated with power and victory. Red is also the colour of Lancashire, and studies have shown that historically teams and sportsmen who wear red – perform far better than those wearing blue for example. This believed to be a psychological reaction from the opposing team/sportsmen and also the referee to assume that the Red wearing team is dominant and superior.

The Manchester Metrolink utilises the colour yellow in their MUFC-logobranding (offset by a neutral grey) – personally I think this a mistake, aside from the fact that it means that the trams are bright and visible; the connotations of the colour yellow aren’t what you’d imagine Metrolink would want to convey e.g. “Yellow is an unstable and spontaneous color, so avoid using yellow if you want to suggest stability and safety.” – although others say it invokes warmth and happiness, which are positive associations but maybe not necessarily suitable for a public service.


metolink-logoAs you can see from this infographic it goes alot deeper than that and this is where cultural and environmental factors may affect peoples opinions on colours – however there is nothing stopping a company altering their marketing (and use of colour within that) for different audiences. The most obvious example of this would be for foreign markets, where languages would have to be altered regardless – meaning it wouldn’t be a huge effort to alter the colour.

Next time you see a brand or logo, have a think about how it makes you feel and why; but also think about what messages you feel are being re-enforced by the colours used…

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