Choosing Colours for your Business
People often interpret the branding of a business as a reflection of that company. Without any prior experience of an enterprise, a customer will make assumptions about it based on logo and colour. Choosing colours for your business can be mind boggling, here is the lowdown.
On the whole, colour preferences are an automatic process and because so much of colour choice is seemingly pre-determined, selecting the best colour for your shop front or other business is about tapping into what colours mean to people as shown below:
BLACK stands out and is found in many logos where it is known for its simplicity, boldness and sophistication. This serious colour may promote a company to be perceived as an exclusive, expensive, glamorous industry leader such as Chanel and Adidas. It is double edged though as it can also convey menace, oppression and grief. The power of black and the associations with fear, mystery and secrecy has been utilised to great effect by James Bond in the 007 logo. This colour also conjures up authority, classicism, conservatism, distinction, formality and tradition. Black is popular with people aged between 16 and 25 and those who are ambitious, so should be used by companies selling luxury, high quality goods such as certain car dealerships and those in the music industry.
BLUE is the most popular colour used in logos as it is allied with authority, trustworthiness and success. Research shows that most people state that they like at least one shade of this serene, calming colour which may be due to us having evolved under a blue sky (though intermittently in the UK!). Blue is linked with competence, confidence, dignity, high quality, loyalty, masculinity, power and security, so it used extensively in government, medical and Fortune 500 branding such as IBM. Blue is ideal for hi-tech companies, established corporations, communication websites, travel agents, the water industry and any company where cleanliness, health and wellness are integral to the business. It should be avoided by the food industry as it is a colour that is rarely edible.
BROWN is effective when used in construction and legal companies because it is considered neutral, serious, reassuring and comforting. Any company working with nature or the outdoors such as gardening businesses, farming or organic products might find brown a good colour choice because of its connections with simplicity, strength, ruggedness, earthiness and endurance. This utilitarian colour is popular with men, but it can seem boring, rough and too earthy or dirty especially to women, however lighter shades of brown can work well if used as background neutrals. These subtle, warm tones are increasingly common in coffee shops to help create an atmosphere of richness and calm.
GREEN is a restful and tranquil colour associated with nature and renewal. This life giving, healing colour is often used by environmentally friendly companies and is ideal for promoting healthy, natural and healing products or services. Other characteristics relating to green include balance, crispness, good taste, harmony and vitality, but it can also represent inexperience or envy. Green is seen as new and fresh and has been shown to encourage clarity of thought. It can also motivate people to join social groups, so is ideal for networking. Lime green creates a propensity for discovering new things whereas dark green is linked with money, so would be perfect for financial companies.
GREY is neutral, cool and serious and can be combined with almost all other colours effectively to reach a range of target markets. In fact, it is best joined with other colours in order to induce energy and passion otherwise it can be draining, moody and even depressing. Grey is a typical corporate colour denoting authority, practicality, humility, respect, stability and possibly dullness. This makes it suitable for legal, financial and hi-tech companies. However, grey can be sophisticated if used alone as Swarovski has shown.
ORANGE combines the characteristics of red and yellow and is warm, fun, high-spirited and vibrant. It is great for attracting attention as used by Nickelodeon and suggests playfulness, youthfulness and creativity. Orange is ideal for cafes and restaurants as it not only stimulates appetites it is also conducive to conversation, so just right for social communication businesses hence the colour and name used for the mobile phone company, Orange. This energetic colour has associations with adventure, fun and journeys at an affordable price, so perfect for hotels and travel companies such as EasyJet. Beware that it is also the most unpopular colour in the West, so should be used with care.
PINK is coupled with stereotypically feminine attributes such as compassion, innocence and romance and is often used for the female market such as Barbie and the beauty industry especially when delicate tones are applied. As well as being seen as gentle, floral and nurturing, pink is also linked with appreciation, gratitude, sincerity, sophistication and tranquillity. Pink is associated with health and can calm us down. It is warm, comforting and inspiring, ideal for charities and with sentimental connotations is used to market to the older generation.
PURPLE has both the warm and cool elements of red and blue and has strong associations with authority, power, dignity, nobility and royalty and therefore, advantageous in businesses selling sophisticated products or an expensive service. With suggestions of enlightenment, fantasy, mystery, spirituality and justice, purple inspires achievement and intellectualism, hence its use in academia. With nostalgic overtones that benefits Hallmark, soft purples work well in antiques and handicrafts, but interestingly, adults under 25 perceive it as being sexy and rebellious.
RED is correlated with energy, strength, speed and activity and is effectively used by Red Bull for these traits. Its intensity stems from blood, warfare and danger signals found in nature, so it is highly effective in promoting action adventure, aggression, drive and energy, but can be overwhelming if used excessively. Red is ideal for a company wanting to grab the attention of the consumer as it can mobilise a strong emotional response. It is no accident that this colour is used in businesses associated with love and passion as it is also linked with excitement, passion and vigour. Lust is not the only physical sense stimulated by red as it also makes people hungry, so it is perfect for any food product or catering business.
WHITE is a universal symbol of peace and purity and is just right for imparting feelings of neutrality, equality, fairness and even happiness. Because this refined colour is one of innocence, newness and a blank canvas, it clears the way mentally and opens the consumer up to new ideas. With strong links to cleanliness, hygiene, sterility and safety, white works well for health related industries, kitchens and bathroom as well as hi-tech products. White can represent simplicity, truthfulness and sincerity, so any company wanting to instil a sense of trust would benefit from incorporating white into its palette and it contrasts well with any other colour.
YELLOW is connected with sunshine, warmth, happiness and positivity, imbuing a consumer with optimism and playfulness which is perhaps why it has worked so well for McDonalds. Because it is such a highly visible colour it is used to grab attention and stimulates logic, original thinking, clarity, curiosity, creativity and confidence. This cheerful stimulation is great for companies that deal with children. Yet the other side of this joyful coin is jealousy, cowardice and caution and yellow is seen as cheap and unsophisticated. Furthermore, it can agitate people especially if they are already stressed leading to feelings of anxiety, so is best used as a highlight.