Colour can play a vital role in creating a strong brand identity and enhancing brand appeal. Here we take a look at the psychology and role of colour in branding and marketing.

The main goal for any brand owner is to develop a brand identity that can be explained and portrayed in as little time and words as possible. To develop a quick and recognisable brand it is important to build the brand on one of the twelve brand archetypes – these are human stereotypes we can all relate to as they have been used for centuries by storytellers across the globe. They are powerful and easy to recognise. If you don’t know your brand archetype, then try our Quiz which will help you pinpoint the right archetype for your brand.

So thinking about colour – your brand’s logo and colour palette are so important because the emotional brain uses colours, shapes and patterns to help make snap judgements (heuristics) which shape whether we recognise or like a particular brand or object or person.

Any brand that can own a colour or colour combination (via packaging, logo, marketing) has a strong advantage over any brand that doesn’t. For example, Coca-Cola has managed to create a well-known myth around their colour of choice around the story that Santa changed his green suit to red in honour of the brand. While unfortunately untrue, the fact that such a strong association to the brand and the colour red exists is a testament to their commitment to branding.

For the most effective choice of colour, you must consider what your brand personality is trying to convey. For instance, if your brand sells children’s toys, using dark colours would make it appear more stylish and mysterious rather than youthful and happy and is unlikely to convey the right vibe or values. Likewise, cooler-toned or muted colours often denote calmness and reliability; hence them being used in many hospitals and B2B companies.

Brand Colour Wheel

To help you choose the right colours, below is a summary from various studies summarising people’s reactions and thoughts on colours in the UK and many (but not all) international markets:

Brand Colour Wheel Vision One


Red – Passionate, Power, Bold

Red has been shown to increase heart rate, stimulate appetite and create urgency so it’s particularly useful in clearance sales. No matter what emotion it will evoke, it will no doubt be strong and passionate. Due to its use by the government and branches owned by the government (such as the postal service), it’s not surprising that red can often be seen as powerful and imposing.

Orange – Creativeness, Spontaneity, Humour

Because Orange is a mixture of Red and Yellow, it naturally has attributes of both. While it is still bold and can create a sense of urgency like Red, it has the youthfulness of and playfulness of yellow. Orange can bring fun and humour into a brand without being overtly childish.

Yellow – Youthfulness, cheerfulness, Unique

Has been shown to stimulate both mental processes and the nervous system. Yellow is happiness and optimism poured into a single colour and so is often used when marketing towards children. It is also often used to encourage communication as well as promote clarity. Because of how visible the colour is, it is usually found in store windows or road sign.

Green – Environment, Peaceful, Healthiness

Green is often used to relax customers in stores. Like Blue and Brown, Green is a naturally occurring colour and can be seen throughout nature and so in turn, is viewed as a calming colour. It tends to symbolise a lot of things from health to money and interestingly, the human eye can distinguish more shades of green than any other shade.

Blue – Tranquil, Strong, Dependable

Blue, most likely due to its ties with the sea and sky, has forever been considered the most calming and serene colour. It is a colour of quiet confidence because of the feelings of strength and dependability it exudes. Because of these qualities, it is often used by companies and is widespread in office blocks.

Purple – Royalty, Sophistication, Enlightened

Purple, being a combination of Red and Blue naturally pulls some attributes from both, resulting in what is widely considered to be a sensual and even spiritual colour. Purple is also a highly imaginative and can spark new ideas- often deep and philosophical ideas at that.

Brown – Earth, Honesty, Humbleness

Brown is the most common in nature. It is a humble and understated colour that can easily be correlated with hard work and manual labour and so while not exactly sophisticated, Brown can very rarely be viewed with suspicion. Alternatively, Brown can be seen in a different light to food and drinks companies due to the colour often being associated with chocolate and coffee.

Black – Sleekness, Mysterious, Class

While it can be seen as a serious, rather stoic colour, Black-when used correctly- can convey an aura of independence and sophistication. While most often used in contrast with other colours for effect or eligibility of writing, mostly black packaging, web design, etc, can make the product feel sleek and luxurious. Due to its ties with darkness and general morbidity, black should be used appropriately and will prove infinitely more effective in some markets more than others

Over a prolonged period, colours can become inextricably linked with any brand (assuming no other brand has already taken ownership for that colour. For this to be possible, a consistent colour palette that reflects the brand’s archetype and values is essential. When testing your brand equity we recommend you test your logo and colour palette as used in our market-leading BrandVision brand tracking tool.

In short, it can be possible to essentially rewire the public’s thought process through good colour choice alone which is an important part of building your brand’s personality. If you need help, then call us today.

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