Is your brand colour sending the right message?

Recently I came across a relaxation and day spa business that used red as its primary brand colour.
I immediately questioned the colour choice and the feelings it elicited. Unconsciously I wasn’t drawn to this business and consciously I was turned-off by its in-your-face bright red.
Given a different type of industry or business, such as fast food, red is a perfectly logical choice.
However, it’s not a great colour choice for an environment that promotes well-being and relaxation.
Brand colour decisions can be made with little thought but can have long-term impacts on the success of your business.
Many businesses may underestimate the impact of colour choices when developing their visual identity.
Colour is a powerful tool that can be used to influence consumer behaviour at a conscious and sub-conscious level.
It is important to choose colours that send the right message for your business, industry and customers and apply them to all of your customer touchpoints; your website, social media, product packaging, advertising, signage, business cards, marketing materials, shop fit-out.
So it’s important to have an understanding of the meaning of different colours to get the most out of your visual identity.
Colour meanings
EmpowerYourself with Color Psychology has some detailed information on a lot of different colours but here is a summary of a few of the most common colours used by business.
Red – energy, passion, action, strength and excitement. It stimulates the physical senses such as the appetite and a call-to-action, making it a popular choice for fast food restaurants. It can be associated with aggressiveness and anger, especially if over-used.
Orange – risk-taker, extroverted, optimist, sociable, self-confident. It also stimulates the physical appetite. It does imply affordability but can also be interpreted as cheap if not used carefully.
Yellow ­– warm, optimistic, uplifting, creativity, logical reasoning and aids decision making, impulsive (another reason why it is popular with fast food restaurants). Too much yellow can cause anxiety and agitation.
Green ­– growth, vitality, new life renewal, sense of calm, health and healing. Darker green can relate to money and wealth and prestige. If over-used and not used carefully it can have a materialistic connotation.
Blue – considered one of the most popular and safest colours to use. Can indicate honesty, dependability, trust, reliability. If over-used it can be perceived as boring or conservative.
Choosing colours
Ideally you should consult an expert in branding or design to help develop your visual identity and its colours.
If going it alone, choose a suite of primary and secondary colours that complement each other and represent your business and industry appropriately.
Do some more research on different colours and test them. Mock up some logos with your proposed colours and survey friends and family on how they feel when they see a particular colour.
If you have already established colours and now are concerned they may be sending the wrong message, consider reviewing your visual identity.
A lot of businesses review their brand and logos every few years.
You don’t have to completely move away from a particular colour if you are wedded to it or have invested a lot of money into it. You can choose a different tone of the same colour to achieve the desired result.
There are warm colours such as red, yellow and orange and cool colours such as blue and green. However each of these colours can be made warmer or cooler and completely change the impression given. For example a bright neon orange has a completely different feel to a subdued terracotta.
Once you have the right colour or colours, use it consistently across all of your communication touchpoints.
It’s ideal if you can get a RGB or CMYK breakdown or PMSnumber for your chosen colours. This way they can be preserved and replicated accurately on screen and in print. Talk to a local printing shop or designer if you need assistance with this.
You can also speak to a marketing and communication expert to ensure your colour choice supports your overall branding and positioning. Your colour choice should reflect your overall brand story and vice versa.
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