The Psychology of Branding and Colour





Have you ever entered a room and felt yourself suddenly relax? Perhaps you just noticed a change in your overall feeling of wellbeing or energy levels? If so, the chances are you’ve been susceptive to the décor, which may or may not have been planned to facilitate these changes.

Famous Brands, Famous Colours

Many brands and their associated colours are so deeply engrained in the psyche of consumers, they are instantly recognisable. Sometimes this is the logo itself, or the background it sits against. 

barclays new logoscadburys new designcoca cola new

It’s All In The Mind

The psychology of colour is hugely important in the marketing world, with companies often paying large sums to specialists for advice on anything from how to decorate their stores and shopfronts, through to what colours to use in their corporate branding. It’s all designed to make consumers behave in a particular way.

We’re surrounded by colour, and when it’s connected with an advertising message, it will encourage us to access a set of inherited thoughts and beliefs about a colour’s properties or potential.

For example – visualise a woman in a bright red dress. What is your initial reaction? Chances are you’ll see her as vibrant, fun or even a little bit ‘hot’! Change the image to a muted brown dress – does she look as interesting? If she’s in black, she’ll more likely gain kudos and be seen as sophisticated.

The Colour Palette

Working across a basic colour palette, the following are often accredited with particular properties and qualities:

blog colour 800 x 1200

Whilst these are fairly general assumptions about the properties of a colour, there are certain markets where the evidence carries through. Look at restaurants as a case in point – it’s no surprise that many will have at least one red wall as part of their décor (to encourage vibrancy, conversation and appetite). 

Another generalisation are spas and clinics, which often choose muted colours and pastel shades to induce calm and serenity.


Whilst many famous brands opt for a single and/or dominate colour, many brands adopt the opposite approach. 

So what do the following seemingly unrelated brands have in common?   

designs landscape

They all cater for multiple personalities and emotions!

Doing The Groundwork

Whilst broad colour associations work in some areas, research supports the idea that it’s far more important that colours convey the personality of a brand.

This relates to a set of properties within the product – what it can promise to do for you, or how it’s going to make you feel.

For example – look at the rows of toothpaste on the shop shelves. Clean white packaging, with a bold typeface – often in red or blue. It’s direct, ‘clinical’ and conveys a message of dependability. It just wouldn’t look right in glittery neon pink now would it?! 

In contrast, you might purchase hair clips for a young girl in the latter kind of packaging, as they would be bright and fun. It’s a process of understanding your target audience when branding.

Product Appropriate

Certain products also lend themselves to particular colours by definition. It’s no surprise that the majority of cars manufactured are white, black, silver or grey. Safe, dependable colours with no hint of danger and easier to resell. Ferrari in comparison has its own colour ‘Ferrari Red’, which like the car is perceived as bold, exciting and energising!

Power tools too – they often come in black or silver. They need to be taken seriously – they’ve a job to do. This probably explains why we’ve yet to see a lilac set of hand-tools penetrate the market!

Gender Preferences

Gender preference is a vital consideration when branding. Whilst blue ranks fairly equally as a favourite amongst both men and women, deep purple (chocolate anyone), ranked in one survey as a 23% favourite for women, but didn’t even make the chart for men!

Men in general, tend to gravitate towards brighter, primary colours – whilst women generally choose softer tones.

In Summation

It’s a complicated arena with many layers to uncover. Get it wrong and you’ll end up feeling blue. Get it right and your brand could be in the pink for the foreseeable future!