Psychology of colour
What does the colour of a company logo tell us about it?
More than you think. That’s why banks are going off blue, why Cadbury is possessive about purple and why, for business both old and new, orange is the happening hue.
The human eye can discern over three million nuances of colour. People often register colour before they ‘see’ the logo or read the brand name.
When the British School of Motoring changed its corporate colour, it chose orange for its ‘modern and youthful feel’. The Mobile phone company Orange (now known as EE) liked the colour so much they named the company after it! Formally known as Microtel it did extensive research to find that Orange had ‘connotations of hope, fun and freedom’ and was the most ‘friendly, extrovert, modern and powerful’.
But why is orange so liked? At the simplest level orange grabs your attention. It’s bold without being as aggressive as red, and bright without being as frivolous as yellow. Some aspects of colour are a science, not an art. It’s been clinically proven, for example, that blue is calming while red excites: a red environment speeds up your heart rate and encourages you to take risks. You will see a lot of it in casinos!
Colour makes an instantaneous, non-verbal impact: it bypasses your intellect and your logic and hits your emotions head-on.
Research in America proves that when you go into a shop you’ll make a subliminal judgement about what to buy within the first 90 seconds of being there, and between 60 and 90 per cent of that decision will be determined solely by the colour of what’s on the shelf.
Hence Cadbury’s passionate possessiveness about purple, which it has made synonymous with chocolate in the UK. Cadbury’s marketers explained that ‘the visual triggers are absolutely vital, and we know that people register the purple before they see the logo, or read the name.’
Purple is an interesting example of a colour that has a very different meaning depending on where you are in the world. The Japanese associate it with luxury, while Brazilians see it as the colour of mourning. And don’t wrap a present for an Italian in purple – it’s supposed to be unlucky there (so perhaps not the best choice for chocolate wrappers either).
The colour Blue is cool, calm and authoritative, and thus by far the safest corporate choice – over 60 per cent of company logos are blue. It’s trustworthy and enduring, which is why it has always been such a favourite with sectors like banking and insurance, where those qualities are at a premium.
Red on the other hand is hot, passionate and competitive. Particularly favoured by men. It is also the most popular colour for consumer goods.
Be warned… pick your corporate colours very carefully.
Red – Activity, Energy
Orange – Friendly, Extrovert
Blue – Cool, Calm
Yellow – Open, Freedom
Brown – Cosy, Earthy
Green – Nature, Stability
Grey – Natural
Black – Strong Will
White – Freshness, Purity