The importance of colour

Colour plays a vital role in branding. Its usage fuels a brands ability to articulate its values without bombarding you with sales and marketing messaging. It differentiates and gives the user an insight into a brands personality. Your brain registers colour before it registers content, communicating subconscious connotations that are very much in the eye of the beholder (or the brain-holder?).

Colour perception has a strong connection with nature. As people, we create subconscious connections with colour that often have an alignment to the world around us. Blue, is often seen as a calming colour, drawing a connection to the calming movement of water. Orange is often connected to feelings of warmth, positivity and brightness, like the sun.

There is, however, no universal perception of colours. Colour can be influenced by a series of cultural influences. For Indian cultures, Red is a colour of great importance and is often used in weddings; whereas in South Africa red can be associated with mourning.

The perception of colour is also always evolving. Pink and Blue are colours used to dress girls and boys respectively, but did you know that in many cases it used to be the other way around. Retail publications in the early 1900s advertised pink as a stronger colour and better suited for young boys, whereas blue was the fairer colour and suited girls better.

From as long as I can remember, I’ve had a very close relationship with colour. As a child, I was obsessed with drawing and painting. I used colour to express how I saw the world around me. My Dad recently gave me a painting I made in pre-school. The subject was an imposing tree emblazoned in the brightest orange. I can’t really say my obsession with the colour has ever waned. Today, I’m often referred to as the orange lady. I’m often sporting a bright orange jacket, my shoes, studio – well it’s pretty much everywhere. I feel it not only defines me as a person but defines the way I approach my work. Interestingly, when I meet new people in business, they have a certain expectation that I’ll be bright, bubbly and affable. Orange has become a visual tool to communicate my values and my approach even before people have met me.

For brands, it’s important to consider colour when creating visual communication. The implications and opportunities are significant and can be the difference between you and your competition capturing the hearts and minds of your users.

Things to consider when using colour in branding:

  • ‍Is the colour distinctive? Does it differentiate from your competitors?
  • ‍Does the colour align to your type of business?
  • ‍Does the colour have positive associations with your target audience?
  • ‍How does your colour communicate in foreign markets? Is it culturally appropriate?
  • ‍Can you achieve the colour consistently across all communication channels, both off and online?

The most important thing to do when applying colour to your brand is to research and test. In fact, that’s pretty much true with every element of your brand and brand identity: Research and Test. One more time? Research and Test.

Of course, our perception of colour is subjective, and certain colours hold a different meaning to each individual, but when using colour as tool for building brands, you must ensure that the audience feels comfortable and that the palette amplifies their satisfaction.

Bottom line, colour plays a significant part of a brands being.

Written by:

Tamlyn van Zyst

Founder / Director

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