Many people have favourite colours – that’s a normal part of life, whether it’s always choosing a white car, painting your bathroom blue or manicuring your fingernails Rouge Noir. But the psychology of colour means that your favourite colour may not be appropriate for your company.
Let’s take an example – do you think an orange funeral directors would appeal to you? What about a children’s nursery that had a sign outside in grey tones – would that be a natural place for you to take your toddler? You probably answered no, but if you reversed those colour choices you’d find them much more attractive.
Colours and graphic design
When we work on brand development, we focus on the way that colours influence psychology so that the message that gets conveyed to the viewer is the one you want to be transmitting. Choosing the range of colours that appear in your corporate communications is vital to presenting the best image so that you get the right result.
What do colours mean?
- Red – the colour of passion and strength, it also represents danger. As a result, a small amount of red will have a huge impact and overuse will lead to people thinking you are aggressive. Be aware that red, particularly when used with yellow, denotes ‘sale’ or for many people just ‘cheap’ so if that’s not the image you want to convey, use red carefully to create drama rather than overusing and giving the impression you’re cut-price!
- White – always associated with purity, in some cultures it is seen as youthful whereas in others it is linked to death. Being culturally aware of colour use in different communities is vital if you are to get even the simplest colours right. White is often seen as the premier colour for webpages as it has the highest legibility factor.
- Black – authority, power and darkness sum up the general response to black. It can be seen as sophisticated and mysterious or as sinister and evil. It’s definitely an adult colour and as such should be used to highlight maturity and elegance.
- Grey – between black and white, the grey tones can convey seriousness and sophistication but overused they can suggest boredom! Grey fonts should be used with extreme care as they can be much less legible than black, and much less impactful than colour … be guided by your graphic designer on the use of grey as it’s not a soft option!
- Yellow – bright, light and warm, yellow is a colour associated with spring and summer and it enhances concentration. It’s optimistic and great for social stuff – print event invitations on yellow paper to increase the likelihood of people coming along. Yellow is also overwhelming if over-used and can appear somewhat childish.
- Orange – between red and yellow, orange is a warm tone with lots of energy, which is why it’s so commonly used for energy foods and drinks, theme parks and fast food outlets. Just as you’d imagine, it’s a happy colour but with that element of red, it can also be seen as cheap as well as cheerful.
- Brown – heading down the spectrum from orange, it’s a colour that connotes logic, reliability and stableness. It’s highly connected with the earth and natural products and while it works well with yellow and orange, when used with a pale blue brown has a powerful effect to bring level-headedness to the ‘sky’ colour.
- Green – whilst green has many positive characteristics, it’s also one of the most difficult hues to read on a screen, so green which suggests nature, freshness, calmness, peace and beauty should be avoided in lettering. Green has some negative connotations too – envy and overpowering wealth are both connected to green.
- Blue – blues are always cool and airy. Psychologically speaking, blue tones bring a calm atmosphere and indicate harmony and tranquility. Whilst blue is seen as trustworthy and dependable, it’s also cold and intellectual, so it’s often best with a little warmth to balance its chilly nature.
- Purple – a regal tone, purple links naturally to wealth and sophistication – it’s also a colour that is associated with mystery and wisdom. Used with care, purple upgrades any visual by adding a prosperous element to the whole.
So colours have meanings, and used in combination, have a profound effect on the viewer. Working with a designer helps you ensure that the colours you choose help your company to succeed.
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