The Impact of Colour in Branding

In an appropriately titled study called Impact of Colour in Marketing, researchers found that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products and brands can be based on colour alone (depending on the product).

Psychologists have studied how people are affected by colours for years and found a strong correlation between colours and emotional responses, further reinforcing the point that choosing the right colour is crucial in determining how your brand is viewed.

90% of snap judgments made about products and brands can be based on colour alone.

Colour offers an instantaneous method for conveying meaning and message in your branding and is possibly the most powerful non-verbal form of communication we can use. Our minds are programmed to respond to colour. The subliminal messages we get from colour shapes our thoughts. As humans our very survival is hung on the identification of colour. We stop our cars for red lights and go on green, we look at the colour of certain plants and animals to determine whether or not they are safe for us to eat or touch, the bottom line is that colour is a very important part of our daily lives. It’s important for us as designers to use colour appropriately and understand the meaning behind the colours we choose, as well as their place within the target market (including using standout colours for differentiation).

Colour demands attention. Recent studies show that black-and-white images sustain interest for less than two-thirds of a second, and coloured images hold attention for two seconds or more. It’s for this reason that when creating brand logos, designers often move straight to colour in their concepts. However, this can often lead to a client choosing a logo based on colour rather than the strength of the logo itself.

When going through the branding phase, I believe it’s important to separate out the colour phase from the brand mark phase.

A brand logo should have standout in black and white. It should be suitable across variety of mediums and at a variety of sizes. Creating logos first in black and white helps the client to focus first on the actual logo and the typography without the distraction of colour.

Once the client has settled on their preferred mark, the next stage should be look at colour – with a clear colour study and reference to colour psychology and the current market. It can be difficult to do this with small startup brands who don’t have the funds to include all of these steps and just want a ‘quick’ out of the bag logo to get themselves going but I believe it’s a crucial when looking at larger branding studies or when re-branding. It’s often at this stage the logo is truly sold in as the right colour will bring the logo to life.


Caroline Somer runs a creative agency and is passionate about helping SMEs attract the right types of clients through brand, marketing and communications. Visit http://www.somerdesign.co.uk for more information.