Think of your favourite colour. Does it make you feel calm, happy or energised? Or does it stir up a fond memory or a favourite place?
Artists and designers have long known how colour can affect feeling, moods and emotions, and throughout history have helped businesses harness this powerful communication tool. In fact, colour reportedly increases brand recognition by 80%.
Kubiak’s design team are experts in colour theory, and here share with you five key things to consider when thinking about brand colours:
1) What feelings are associated with each colour?
On a simple level, colours on the warm side of the spectrum - like red and yellow - are energetic and uplifting, while those on the cool side - like blue and green - are calming.
Our society has developed a variety of associations for each colour; indeed we’re now programmed to respond to certain colours in a certain way, e.g. red for stop and green for go.
Big brands know how to use these associations and you can too.
EasyJet is orange to recall feelings of fun and excitement; to paint a picture where flight is affordable and with the help of this friendly and helpful airline you could fly anywhere.
Google uses playful primary colours, but instead of sticking to the order, designers made the L green to show that they don’t always follow the rules.
The UPS (United Parcel Service) logo uses a single colour - brown - to communicate dependability and solidity. It is not a posh colour; brown is grounded in the earth.
Your company palette needs to underline and accent the right brand messages.
2) How does tone and hue make a difference?
The tone and hue of your brand colours has equal importance. In general, bright colours stand out, but can sometimes appear harsh; whereas muted colours can be more sophisticated, but also overlooked.
Clever design can also make use of tone to add extra meaning to a logo. The AT&T globe logo symbolises a world surrounded by electronic communications. It is made up of very carefully delineated highlight and shadow elements so that it can be reproduced to give the impression of a three-dimensional sphere.
3) What are the subconscious effects of different colours?
Colour also influences people on a psychological level. Have you ever noticed how hospital waiting rooms are usually a calming, natural colour such as blue or green rather than action colours like red? This is because colour is nature’s own powerful signaling system. If we see a little green frog we have one reaction. If that frog is black with bright yellow spots, we’d have a different response. The same instinct tells us if food is safe to eat. These psychological responses haven’t diminished as we’ve evolved. One scientific study even found that warm-colored placebo pills were reported as more effective than cool-colored one. And it has been suggested that installing blue-colored streetlights can lead to reduced crime.
4) Are you marketing your brand to a global market?
Cultural differences can compound those effects, with a hue that’s happy and uplifting in one country becoming depressing in another.
Whilst orange means fun and affordable in the West, in Hinduism it’s a sacred colour.
In Europe, yellow can mean cowardice, whereas in Japan it’s courage and in Egypt it’s the colour of mourning.
For many countries, green is linked to fertility, spring and new life; whereas in North Africa it’s associated with corruption and the drug trade.
Companies need to be aware of these differences, particularly if aiming to develop a global brand, which these days is all the more likely thanks to the use of the internet.
5) How will the design look without colour or for the colourblind?
When designing a logo, it’s also important to make sure it will produce well in monochrome.
So make sure your colour choice reinforces and enhances the design of your logo – but doesn't define it.
It’s also worth noting that around one in 12 men and one in 200 women are affected by colour blindness. If fact, Mark Zuckerburg is red/green colourblind and reportedly chose blue for the Facebook logo because it’s the richest colour he sees.
So you can see, choosing colours for your business is one of the most important branding decisions to make, and not one to make without professional help.
Understanding the effects colour has on people - or colour psychology as it’s often called - is an incredibly valuable expertise that the studio team at Kubiak can offer our clients.
Why not come and chat with one of our designers? They can talk about colour until they’re blue in the face. :-)