The science behind colour communication in branding

Maddie Gulliver - 11th March 2024

The power of colour is truly fascinating. In the world of branding, It’s not just about making things look pretty; it’s about weaving emotions, sparking reactions, and believe it or not, nudging people into making decisions. “But how?” I hear you ask. Let’s unwrap how colour plays a pivotal role in creating associations, stirring emotions, and even influencing what we buy and how YOU can do it too.

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So then, how does it work?

Colour psychology in branding operates on the principle that colours have the power to evoke specific emotional responses and influence human behaviour.

Serving a purpose far beyond just being visually appealing; they play a critical role in communicating a brand’s values and the emotional benefits of a product, often influencing us on a subconscious level.

Colours are emotional triggers.

Warm shades like red and orange are all about energy, warmth, and excitement. They can get your heart racing and maybe even whet your appetite. But then they can also be associated with danger and anger. Now stay with us, we know it seems contradictory, but it all depends on the environment that they are perceived in. For example, consider McDonald’s with its iconic use of red and yellow. In this context, the red evokes feelings of warmth and appetite, creating an inviting and energetic atmosphere that encourages diners to step in and enjoy a meal. However, when red appears in warning signs, its role shifts dramatically, leveraging its association with danger to grab attention and convey a message of caution. This difference in application highlights how context is key in determining our emotional and psychological response to the same colours, underscoring the nuanced role of colour psychology in communication.

Colour and connection.

Picking the right colours for a brand is about telling a story. By leveraging these colour-triggered emotions, marketers and designers can craft messages that resonate on an emotional level, embedding a story or a promise within the colour choice. This subtle yet impactful use of colour psychology can transform a simple logo or product into a narrative, guiding our perceptions and influencing our decisions without a single word. Turning the act of seeing into a form of understanding, connecting us to brands in a way that feels both personal and profound.


Some interesting examples that spring to mind:

  • Barbie: The iconic use of pink has become so closely associated with the Barbie brand that Mattel has attempted to trademark it. Although they have not yet succeeded, this colour has become an essential part of Barbie’s visual identity, symbolising femininity, and playfulness. This aligns perfectly with its brand ethos and cleverly appeals to its target demographic with a sense of fun and imagination.
  • Tiffany & Co.: Known for its iconic Tiffany Blue, a trademarked colour, Tiffany & Co. has effectively used this hue to symbolise luxury, elegance, and timelessness. This particular shade of blue is so synonymous with the brand that it has become a key element of its identity. This use of colour is instantly recognisable and a symbol of sophistication and desirability as well as simultaneously omitting a sense of trust and quality in the brand and its products.
  • Lit Fibre Broadband: The use of yellow in Lit Fibre’s branding is particularly striking, exuding a sense of playfulness, boldness, and energy that not only captures attention but also differentiates them from competitors in the broadband market. This vibrant choice stands out as a visual marker of the brand’s innovative approach to providing high-speed internet services, signalling to consumers that Lit Fibre is a forward-thinking and dynamic option for their connectivity needs.
  • Cadbury: Cadbury’s rich and vibrant shade of purple, known as Pantone 2685C, is a strategic branding choice that conveys luxury and indulgence, resonating with its status as a premium confectionery brand. This specific use of purple not only strengthens Cadbury’s identity but also influences consumer behaviour by creating an association with quality and decadence. The luxurious feel of the colour encourages consumers to perceive Cadbury products as special treats, enhancing the desire for a premium chocolate experience and fostering a sense of satisfaction and loyalty towards the brand.
  • Coca-Cola: Coca-Cola’s use of vibrant red in its branding expertly combines excitement and passion, influencing consumer behaviour by stimulating feelings of warmth and appetite. This strategic colour choice not only makes Coca-Cola stand out on shelves but also encourages impulse purchases among consumers, subtly nudging them towards choosing Coke for moments of joy and togetherness. The colour red, associated with urgency, enhances the brand’s appeal, making it more likely for consumers to act on their desire for a refreshing experience.

So, there you have it. When you’re creating a new brand or giving your brand a refresh, it’s crucial to recognise the power of colour. Now the next time you’re drawn to a brand or a product, take a moment to think about the colours being used. There’s a good chance those colours are working hard behind the scenes, ensuring that you remember and feel just the right way about what you’re seeing.

Want to get colour clever with your branding? Get in touch with us right here and work with one of our experts to craft a colour palette that not only resonates with your brand identity but also engages your target audience effectively.

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