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The Psychology of Colour in Branding

The Psychology of Colour in Branding
Why orange is optimistic and purple is creative.

Have you ever wondered why the McDonald’s golden arches are well, golden? Or why social media site Facebook chose to represent its brand with blue? While colour plays a vibrant role visually, there are plenty of important strategic considerations to make when selecting your brand’s colour palette. 

When you think pink, you may immediately think feminine. But 2017’s favourite colour for marketing to millennials is also commonly associated with nurture, care, possibility, and assertiveness. Red, on the other hand, is understood as being bold, ambitious, active, and confident. Blue is said to create feelings of trust, dependence and strength, making it an unsurprising choice for many computer platforms, while grey is neutral, calm and balanced – a popular preference for sporting and technical brands.

Before we take a look at brands that use colour well, it’s important to first understand the psychological power of colour.  

In a Canadian study titled the Impact of Color in Marketing, researchers found that people make up their minds within 90 seconds of their initial interactions with either people or products. And about 62-90% of these assumptions are impacted by colour alone. 

Beyond its ability to alter perceptions, colour can also be used to impact behaviour – and the effect is almost immediate. It’s no coincidence that yellow is often used for point of sale signs, and red used for sales-driven buttons. Yellow’s vibrant shade makes it the perfect colour to grab people’s attention, while red creates a sense of urgency and is a high energy colour. When combined, red and yellow can increase your appetite, a combination we’re sure McDonald’s is glad they caught on to.  

In addition to psychology, it’s also important to remember the role colour plays in different cultures. While many colours have the same impact universally, some are highly influenced by tradition. White is aligned with purity in the west, but in Eastern Asia it’s commonly associated with mourning. It’s cultural considerations like these that brands need to educate themselves on before they go global. 

We love brands that use colour in a clever way. Here are 3 of our favourites. 


Everyone knows and loves the simple Swedish brand, offering do-it-yourself solutions for every household. Central to the brilliant brand is the bold combination of yellow and blue. Outside of the obvious similarities with the Swedish national flag, the use of this clever colour combination creates an image that goes far beyond the products IKEA supplies. In-store yellow is used to allude to happiness and excitement, because a trip to IKEA is designed to be more of a fun, memorable experience than a quick trip to a furniture shop. Blue, which represents trust and excellence, works to position the brand as the place to go for household solutions. A sentiment that has been successfully achieved all over the world.

2. Coca-Cola

Arguably one of the most successful brands in the world, especially when it comes to the use of colour, is Coca-Cola. From cans to campaigns, the brand uses bold red to appeal to young people, creating excitement and energy, and also triggering an appetite – or in this case, thirst. But the use of colour in Coca-Cola’s marketing goes far beyond red and white. So, what about the power of the product colour itself? Over the years Coca-Cola’s brown-coloured beverage has become synonymous with soft drinks. So strong is the power and presence of the brand’s marketing that people have grown to expect a fizzy, brown liquid when they open up a can to drink – irrespective of what’s advertised on the outside.

3. Google

Rapidly growing to one of the most recognised brands in the world, and one most people interact with every day, the changing face of Google provides an interesting example of the use of colour. The multicoloured logo breaks regular colour patterns to create a striking design. One that aligns itself with the unconventional brand, and one that breaks all the rules. In the tech world, being seen as conventional can be detrimental to a brand’s perception. Like the Google logo on its search page, technology changes daily and must adapt to stay relevant. Google’s dynamic brand identity and range of colours make it an inclusive and always moving brand. One loved by and designed for all. Genius!

If you want to find out more about the power of colour in branding, just give us a call. From bold to vibrant, subtle and subdued, we know how to inject colour into your brand.