Take a second. Think about your favorite brand. Really think about it. What’s the first thing you thought about? Their logo? Their slogan? Their colour?
We bet you can recall their brand colour without even having to think. So why is that? Why does colour make such a connection with our brains?
Most people could tell you the basics. Red is associated with anger, green is calming and so on. But what’s really at play here? Is there a deeper, most psychological connection between our brains and colour? Is that why some brands fail and others succeed? Can we attribute success to colour?
It’s such an important thing to get right, yet so many businesses fall at the first hurdle by neglecting to think about the impact that colour has on their brand and business, and choosing colour simply because it’s ‘on trend’. So how can you avoid the trap? We spoke to Applied Colour Psychology and Trend Specialist Justine Fox, (@MaterialColour) and asked her to share her expertise on colour psychology, the effect that colour really has on our brains, minds and emotions, and how you can use it to boost your business…
Why is colour so important to a business/company or brand?
“Competition is fierce out there for attracting and importantly, keeping customers. The key quality that they’re looking for is honesty and the right colour can help in representing your brand values and supporting your company voice.
“Studies have shown that colour is the first attribute that our brains process during brand recognition, so it’s vital that we get it right. Using applied colour psychology and understanding colour association works really well to keep the authenticity and purity so that your customer really ‘feels’ your brand.”
How can businesses keep it authentic?
“Understanding what it is you and your business do that is unique is key. Set out a clear plan of what your values are and attribute colour that supports that message. Books like ‘How to Style Your Brand’ by Fiona Humberstone take you through the basics of defining the colour group that fits your values and identifying which support your message.”
How can businesses use ‘trend colours’?
“I absolutely don’t believe that a colour should be used just because it’s ‘on trend'. It really confuses your brand message and in turn damages that honesty in your relationship with the customer. Where trend colours really work well is when they’re brought in line with a brand’s values. When I say this I mean that the tint, tone of shade is altered from the trend standard to create a seamless harmony of brand and product.”
Which brands do you most admire for their use of colour?
“I love when brands use colour that tells a story. It can be incredibly simple like the Samsung blue. Blue in itself is the most popular in brand because of its associations with reliability and communication but where Samsung do really well is in the strength and clarity of the colour. If you look really closely you can see a slight red undertone that almost makes it pulsate. There’s something exciting and futuristic about it while remaining open and inclusive.
“Another with a great tale is Hermès. A luxury brand that uses what is arguably one of the more ‘value’ colours on the spectrum. What they do with their orange is to create something more complex with depth and a touch of blackness that delivers their crafted message. The vibrancy of orange gives a little nod to their human side, they support the teaching of artisan skills in their Fondation d’entreprise Hermès, it’s not elitist and has a sense of humour.”
When deciding on a colour, whether that’s for a logo, POS or a merchandise what’s the most important thing to consider?
“The most important thing to consider when you’re deciding on a colour is what is it for? If it’s a logo, what is your brand about, who are you. You need to be brutal. Successful brand colour is about reality not aspiration. For POS or merchandising, are the colours that you’re thinking about using legible? About 5% of the population has a colour vision deficiency. In 2015 Coca-Cola did a campaign in Denmark playing on the Ishihara dot test for colour blindness. The hid a message about their product, ‘Life’, that only those with a red green colour deficiency could read. It’s quite gimmicky, but demonstrates the point. In the same respect, good contrast will make things a lot easier for our ageing population.”
Pantone’s colour of the year for 2017 is ‘Greenery’ – what are your thoughts on it? Can you see it becoming a trend with businesses/brands?
“I love green and my favourite colour is not a million miles away from Pantone’s COY Greenery. The industry was expecting some sort of green from them this year even though many global brands have erred more on the muted blue/purple side of the spectrum. It’s a colour family that we’ve seen becoming more prominent within trend over the last year or so.
“Green is reassuring and this colour has the freshness that we associate with wellbeing and newness. It will definitely have an impact on the colour that you see people using. Pantone has such a strong global marketing message with consumers and we’ve seen in the last week a collaboration with AIRBNB on the Green House, Clerkenwell, London. But it’s not the only colour notation institution – businesses should check out NCS or RAL too.”
How can your consultancy help businesses to get it right when it comes to colour?
“There’s a huge amount of information out there on applied colour psychology and colour trend, but it’s not targeted and can create too much noise, so businesses find it difficult to understand where they fit. I can give an objective assessment of the colour needs of the business, based on your brand values and future goals to create a unique easy to understand solution. The best bit about what I do, that really excites me, is working together with a business’s in-house team to develop colour. Their expertise is key to the success of what I do and that interactive collaboration is amazingly productive.”