“People make up their minds within 90 seconds of their initial interactions with products. About 62‐90% of the assessment is based on colours alone.”
Satyendra Singh, (2006) “Impact of color on marketing”
WOW! So colour really is a big deal right! When we are all kids we all had a favourite number, a favourite animal, a favourite colour,…Picking colours is really important whether you’re running an SME in a swanky office, or you’re one person running a business from your home office (or the corner of your living room in my case!!). Colour has personality (in the same way that fonts do, but more on that another time!) and speaks to your audience without you having to use any words. Colour can impact a persons emotions, as well as their behaviours.
Colour is a fundamental part of your brand identity. And lets not forget that you need to be really consistent with your use of colour ok! The tricky thing is when it comes to your client facing communications it’s not all about you. Unless you are your target audience then scrap that last sentence.
Although it’s quite important, It’s not ALL about what colour shirt goes with which pants. There’s a lot of research that goes into picking a colour, and a designer will look at things like aesthetics, and cultural and learned associations (over time we’ve learned to associate certain colours with certain emotions and feeling), and a good designer will look into all of this before they recommend a colour or set of colours for your brand.
Have a think about the logos you see regularly,… these choices have been carefully made, by a designer, with the end customer in mind. And trust me when I say it’s not just about choosing colours that look pretty! There’s purpose behind each and every choice.
Let’s play a quick game, a bit like; ‘What vegetable do you think of when I say orange?’
Let’s go for it with logos…
Yellow and red?
Did you think McDonalds? (red attracts attention, and yellow triggers happiness)
Blue and Red?
British Airways or Tesco? (blue is strong and stable, red immediately attracts attention)
White and green?
Starbucks (green is positive)
Cadbury? (originally a tribute to Queen Victoria, it’s warm and regal)
These logos are all instantly recognisable (and a credit to their designers).
A little of the science bit
This isn’t an extensive list of colours and their history, or what they mean, and why – there are enough of those lists around already!
Blue… the colour of the sea and the sky signifies honesty, loyalty and stability . Think Barclays bank, British Airways, PayPal, Oral B, Ford, and Oreo (?!).
Green… the colour of life, growth and nature. It has the calming attributes that blue has but also has the same energy that yellow has. Think Tropicana, Spotify and Starbucks.
Coral… it’s not quite pink, not quite peach either but is somewhere in-between. It’s gentle and friendly, and it’s warm too. Think B81 Designs!!
So just from these 3 examples, you start to see that there’s more to choosing colours than “I hate pink, it’s too girly” although all opinions are very valid in these discussions!
Here is one of the things a graphic designer will think about before you might; the colour palette. You might have ideas about your logo, maybe a colour or two, but what other colours will go with it? What colours will work well on your social media posts? Or your business cards and brochures?
A designer will put together a palette of colours that work well together, and will make up part of your brand identity. Use the colours consistently, along with other elements of your brand identity, and you’re well on your way to building a recognisable business.
Colour in print and colour on screen.
You should always keep in mind that colours you see on screen and colours you see in print will never be a 100% match! And that’s because of the different colour spaces that are used – RGB (screen) and CMYK (print). You can read more about different colour modes here.
Also keep in mind that some colours cost more to produce in print – I know we all love a bit of sparkle and metallics work quite well in print. But unless you use a special Pantone Ink (always at an additional cost) or a hot foil (again, always at an additional cost) you’ll never be able to replicate that shiny metallic finish.
And finally, from me to you, a colour choice checklist.
- Do your research!! Look at your customers, your competitors and the industry you’re in.
- Don’t JUST choose colours based on what your favourites are! Pick a colour palette that resonates with your target audience. The colours you choose will speak volumes about your business.
- Colours that look really great when large might not work at smaller sizes (think exhibition graphics V business card), and colours that work well in print might not work as well on screen. So make sure you test out your palette at all sizes, and in all formats, before finalising.
- Think simple – don’t over complicate your palette by having too many colours. I’d recommend 1-3 primary colours and 4-7 secondary colours.
- Make sure you’re consistent with the colours you use, it’ll help build recognition! Use your colour palette throughout your brand identity, social media any marketing materials.
Colour is key
“Prudent use of colours can contribute not only to differentiating products from competitors, but also to influencing moods and feelings”
Satyendra Singh, (2006) “Impact of color on marketing”
I bet you start to notice more about the colours around you from today.
And if you’d like to find out a little more about the way I work with clients, why I do what I do or tell me about your Graphic Design related tales I’d love to hear from you! If you want to find out more about how I can help you communicate your message with your audience, or if we haven’t been in touch for a while and you’d like to reconnect drop me a line, I would love to catch up! You can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll be posting more blogs so make sure to check back here soon, or follow me on social media for regular updates, handy hints, tips and design inspiration! See you soon!