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How can Colours affect your Brand Identity?

It sounds like Hocus Pocus. The sort of thing made up to convince you to use one website design over another, or perhaps the hypothesis of a lazy psychology student wanting to perform an easy experiment for their thesis. It’s hard to believe that a mature, intelligent adult could be at all swayed to purchase a product or choose a service just because of the colours they see.

But it’s true. You can tell a story with colours.

For millennia, scholars and philosophers have been interested in how and why colours can inform our decision making and how we might be able to use that information to help each other. Some things appear to be common sense - the colour red is associated with fire and blood, and therefore danger. Others seem far more difficult to unpack - working under blue light has repeatedly shown to increase mental alertness for short periods of time. It’s research that continues to today and, unsurprisingly, much of it revolves around commerce and advertising.

From McDonald’s Red and Yellow to Facebook’s specifically designed shade of blue are important aspects of their brand recognition. It might not make sense why a fast food restaurant would want to use the colour of danger or a social media site would want to continually remind you to relax, but graphic designers have long learned the secrets to using colour to help sell your brand.


Most people recognise the calming effect of the colour blue. Conjuring up images of clear skies and calm waters, light blue is often seen as a colour of choice for the walls of an office, while darker blues make the most common fonts for holiday brochures, even for destinations far from any coast.

According to a 2003 study, stores with blue colour schemes attract 15% more customers than those with orange, despite orange often being associated with happiness and excitement. The colour blue is also often associated with high quality (think blue ribbons!) and trust, making it a popular colour for financial companies and other businesses that require you have faith that they will take care of your health, your information or your secrets.

On the other hand, blue is the worst choice for a butcher, associated with rotten meats and mould. When a customer sees blue in the font of a restaurant that isn’t specialising in seafood, they are less likely to enter the premises.

Web Designers have long known the power of using blue and yellow to work together, making text stand out to a reader and drawing the eye to the most important statements and phrases in the copy. Graphic designers often choose a blue background for sections of brochures that contain difficult to understand language or terms, helping the customer trust in the business’ expertise in the matter.


When asked, most people associate the colour red with negativity. Stop. Danger. Aggression. In many ways, this has been used to great effect. Stop signs and traffic lights rely on this connotation, and research with hundreds of uniforms has shown that sporting teams who wear red are more successful due to an increase in confidence and appearing more powerful to the other side.

Red also has strong associations with physical attractiveness and power, from the “little red dress” to the speed and class of the red Ferrari. Makeup companies have long known what researchers have recently been able to prove - bright red especially enhances female attractiveness and encourages buyers to buy products that hope will make them more attractive.

The power of red comes from using it sparingly. A flash of red draws the eye and bright red is associated with a “call to action”, those final words that push a person to click a link, make a purchase, get a quote. Researchers compared using red or green “Buy Now” buttons on websites to find that those with red buttons received 21% MORE clicks.


Yellow is often associated with brightness, fun and wealth. The lustre of gold and summer days in the sand. Research has also shown that bright yellow is the colour most associated with happy moods and optimism, and has empirically increased the energy of people performing tasks and increased hunger. Is it any surprise that the biggest fast-food empire in the world chooses Yellow and Red, offering happiness for the hungry around the world?

Yellow is a popular colour for brands that want to be seen as active, associated with fitness and being creative in their thinking.


In commerce and marketing, green is almost always associated with the environment and being environmentally friendly. However, to only consider this colour in this way is to miss out on other connotations with the colour. Green is sometimes called the “permissive colour”, with research showing that people who see the colour feel like they can trust their own decisions more, and are not being pushed into making them. It is also associated with long-term thinking. While a business may rely on the colour blue to build trust for the company, the colour green is better at convincing the consumer to trust themselves.

Colours tell the story of a company. When developing brand guidelines, choosing the colours that best represent what you want to give your clients and customers ensure that a consistent message is provided that will increase confidence in your organisation.

Talk to me today about the story you want to tell, and let us help you find the brand recognition you deserve.



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