If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m slightly obsessed with design, and one of my favourite things about sharing these blogs with you, is that I get to nerd-out about all of the theory that goes into my work.
There’s one particular area of design magic I’ve been wanting to share with you for a long time now, and today, it’s finally time!
Introducing, Colour Psychology.
You see, there’s actually a reason we’re drawn to certain colours, and it comes down to a lot more than personal preference. Whether we realise it or not, colours make all of us feel different emotions, and this has a huge impact on how we make purchasing decisions too…
What can colour psychology do for my brand?
As a marketing professional (or a business owner wearing all the hats!) you’ll know that every sale or conversion counts. There are thousands of factors that go into every decision your customers make, many that they make without even thinking. One of these cues is colour - and your customers are using this everyday to decide which brands they want to buy from.
When you understand this concept of colour psychology, you can use it to your advantage, by attracting more of the right customers, and allowing them to fall in love with your brand.
Believe it or not, your brand colours are so much more than a pretty face. They can communicate what your business does and how it does it, and even create more demand for your offering by invoking certain feelings.
Ever notice that fast food chains almost always use yellow and red? That’s because these colours can enhance our appetite and make us hungry!
Not only can colour psychology make your branding more effective when used correctly, it can also have the opposite effect if it’s not considered at all...
I helped one client out of this trap a few years ago when creating the logo for their dental practice. Originally, they were loving the idea of a bright red logo, and while this is a strong and powerful colour that works well for a lot of brands, it can also invoke feelings of fear, alarm or even pain. Not ideal for attracting dental patients!
So why is red so risky for dentists when it works well for other industries?
Think about all the preconceptions already in the back of your customer’s mind when they're shopping for your product or service. When people think about the dentist, they’ll typically think about pain, discomfort - maybe even blood! So mix that with the colour red and this doesn’t exactly leave them feeling calm, confident and ready to book in.
For other business categories, red might be a great fit, and you might already be wondering about one brand who seems to have broken this rule - Colgate!
Yes Colgate is in the dental industry, but toothpaste doesn’t hold the same sense of fear or discomfort in people like a trip to the dentist does. Colgate presumably had very different goals with their logo when it was first created in 1897. They needed to stand out on the shop shelves, and this is why red works for them - even in 2020!
How to nail colour psychology in your own branding
So this all sounds great in theory, but let’s look at an example, shall we?
I recently created a brand identity for children’s entertainer, Tiny Tina. Here the client initially wanted purple and green in her logo, but after reading her brief, these colours didn’t seem to be the right fit. After some thought, we went with a more fun, happy and colourful palette.
So how did we get here? There were a few things to think about:
The Target Audience was children and mothers of children aged 6 months to 8 years. This meant the brand needed to be colourful, and appeal to both boys and girls.
The entertainer has beautiful red hair - so I knew I wanted to use bright orange in her illustrations.
I also researched colours associated with learning in children, as well as shades representing fun, energy & youthfulness.
After this research, we opted for a mix of orange, pink, blue and green, based on their meanings, shown below. Then I spent time working with different shades of each colour until I found a combination that worked well all together.
While matching “Tina’s” gorgeous orange hair, orange is also seen as friendly and energetic.
Pink has a calming, innocent and child-like feel.
Blue is often used to connote trust, calmness, peace, and friendliness.
Green is believed to aid concentration in learning, while also symbolising growth, stability and safety.
Fun Fact: Since our rebrand, Tiny Tina has had their songs picked up and played by ABC Kids Listen - an educational radio station and on-demand music app for kids and their grown-ups.
Remember, it’s not black and white
While certain colours hold certain meanings in all of our minds, it’s important to remember that a particular colour choice won’t work the same way for every brand.
Remember how bright red works well for Colgate, but not so well for a dental practice? The right colour choices all come down to context - and depending on your target market and your industry, these meanings could vary.
So how can you get it right? I have a few tips to get you started:
Think about your brand values and how you want people to feel when they see your logo, website or social media feed for the first time.
Think about your target audience, and don’t choose colours just because you like them. Of course, you need to love your colours too, but the most important thing is that your colours appeal to your target audience.
Check out your competitors before choosing your own colours - you need to ensure yours aren’t too similar. Yes those colours might be working well for them, but do you really want to look like your competitor? Choose a unique colour pallet so you stand out amongst the competition!
Once you have set brand colours to work with, make sure you are using exactly the same shades across all your collateral. If you work with a graphic designer, they’ll provide you with brand guidelines including colour codes so you can nail it every time. Remember, a consistent brand will be recognisable and memorable. Inconsistency, on the other hand, can cause confusion.
Psst… Feeling stuck? I’ve created a free Colour Psychology Cheat Sheet, breaking down all the core colour meanings, so you can work out which ones might be right for you.
I hope this post has inspired you to reflect on your own branding and make sure it’s playing its part in boosting your business results! If you’d like more guidance on getting your brand up to scratch, feel free to book a free 15 minute chat to see how I can help.