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The role of colours in brand identity: psychology and effective choices

Rows of coloured envelopes

Colours are without any doubt one of the most fascinating parameters in the design world. They play a decisive role in brands' perception and shape our comprehension more than any other design element. Colours and their combinations give a tangible form to emotions and values, making identities and points of view visible, and they help transmit messages and direct attention.

 

Colours: the essence of design

Regardless of whether they are used as logo colours, brand colours, design colours, fashion colours, or room colours, unlike fonts, colours are intuitively understood and perceived by most people. In combination with other design elements like logos, design language, and corporate typeface, colours are among the fundamental elements of a brand. These elements and their interactions shape both the corporate design and brand identity of a company.

Not only do colours provide a distinct visual identity, but they also play a crucial role in modelling people's emotional and cognitive experience. Colour psychology reveals how colour choices influence public perceptions and reactions. For example, an intense red can arouse a sense of urgency or excitement, while blue can calm and instill confidence. Colour combination is not just an aesthetic aspect but a visual language that communicates subtle messages, forming emotional and psychological connections between the brand and its audience. The dynamic interaction between colour, design and perception forms the very soul of the brand, helping to establish a lasting and meaningful bond with the audience.

 

Colour as identity bearer

An outstanding example of strong, powerful and sustainably conceived corporate design, in which colour plays a decisive role, is that of a world-famous carbonated soft drink of a US beverage company. The brand's combination of red colour and white ribbon, known as the 'Dynamic Ribbon Device', is enough to clearly identify the brand: Coca-Cola! A few clear signals are enough to activate emotions and product features and set the entire brand network in motion.

Lets take another example of effective use of corporate design but move to the automotive sector. While silver as the main colour of a brand is not as common as others, a notable example is that of the car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz. Despite the logo being best known for its representation in chrome silver rather than as a specific colour, silver is associated with the quality, elegance and prestigious engineering of Mercedes-Benz vehicles. It reflects a sense of luxury, modernity and class, conveying the image of a sophisticated, high-end brand in the automotive industry.

For some brands, even a small, distinctive splash of colour is enough to convey identity. In these cases, the brand is so strongly associated with a particular colour that it comes to mind when the brand name is pronounced. Think of the purple colour of Milka chocolate or the red of Ferrari.

 

The psychology of colours: emotions and meanings

uomo che tiene in mano campioni di colori

Immagine via Freepik

Each colour has its own emotional and symbolic meaning. Red, for example, stands for passion and energy, while blue radiates confidence and calm. Yellow symbolises optimism, while green is associated with nature and health. The deliberate choice and combination of colours in your design can strengthen your message and address your audience.

Get inspired by the countless possibilities of colour design and use colour purposefully to reinforce your messages and create a deep connection with your audience. Colour is more than just pigment on paper: it is a powerful tool that significantly influences the way we see and experience the world.

Let's take a closer look at the colour palette:

  • Blue symbolises confidence, calmness and professionalism. It is often used in the fields of finance, technology and healthcare.
  • Red symbolises passion, energy and urgency and is particularly popular in the food industry.
  • Green is associated with nature, prosperity and tranquillity and is often used in the health and tourism sectors.
  • Yellow is associated with optimism and cheerfulness, although an excess of yellow can be perceived as a warning.
  • Orange is seen as invigorating and energising and is often used in food advertising.
  • Purple symbolises elegance and creativity and is used in advertising for luxury and beauty products.
  • Brown symbolises concreteness and naturalness and is ideal for ecological products.
  • Black and white are often combined to emphasise elegance and purity.
  • Grey stands for professionalism and modernity and is often used in commercial environments.

The choice of colour in a design is not just about aesthetics but plays a key role in communicating messages and creating emotional connections with the audience, and understanding the psychology of colours is essential to exploit their full potential.

 

The influence of colours on consumer perception

Tabella colori e brand associati

Immagine via The Logo Company

Let us now see with a few examples how different colour tones influence consumer perception:

Red

Red is a powerful and attention-grabbing colour, often evoking feelings of excitement, passion and urgency. It is often associated with energy, power and love. Many fast food chains such as McDonald's and KFC use red in their branding to create a sense of urgency and stimulate appetite. Red can also be used to indicate danger or caution, as in the case of red stop signs or fire extinguishers.

Blue

As we have seen, blue is often associated with feelings of calm, trust and reliability. This colour is often used by banks, healthcare providers and technology companies to convey a sense of security and professionalism. Social media giant Facebook uses a shade of blue in its logo to convey trust and reliability, in line with its goal of connecting people around the world.

Green

Green is closely associated with nature, growth and health. It is often used by brands that promote eco-friendliness, sustainability and organic products. Companies such as Whole Foods Market and Starbucks incorporate green into their branding to communicate their commitment to the environment and healthy living. Green can also symbolise wealth and prosperity, making it an appropriate choice for financial institutions.

Yellow

Yellow is associated with happiness, optimism and warmth. It captures attention and is often used to emphasise important information or to create a sense of cheerfulness. Brands such as McDonald's, Ikea and Best Buy effectively use yellow in their logos and marketing materials to create an inviting and energising atmosphere for their customers.

Purple

Purple is often associated with royalty, luxury and creativity. It is synonymous with elegance, sophistication and fantasy. Luxury brands such as Rolex and Cadbury use purple in their branding to convey a sense of exclusivity and quality. In addition, purple is often associated with spirituality and mindfulness, making it a popular choice for wellness and meditation companies.

Orange

Orange is a vibrant and energetic colour that symbolises enthusiasm, creativity and friendliness. It can attract attention and is often used by brands that want to stand out and create a sense of excitement. Home Depot and Nickelodeon are examples of brands that effectively use orange in their logos and marketing materials to convey a playful and enthusiastic image.

Comprehending the psychological impact of colour is key to building brand identity and communicating effectively with consumers. Strategically choosing colours that match the desired message and target audience, companies can create a strong emotional connection, increase brand awareness and ultimately influence consumer perception in their favour.

 

Conclusion

Brand identity is a complex mosaic in which colours play a key role. They are not just a matter of aesthetics, but bearers of meaning, emotion and identity. Through an analysis of the psychology of colours and their impact on emotions and consumer behaviour, it becomes clear how the right use of colours can shape the perception of a brand.

Indeed, the essence of design lies in the ability of colours to communicate without words, to evoke feelings and to build emotional connections. Every colour choice is a strategic opportunity to convey subtle but powerful messages. However, it is essential to take into account cultural, demographic and individual differences. Colours are not universal symbols; their meaning and impact may vary depending on context. Also, the psychology of colour is not only relevant for brand image, but also has tactical applications in various sectors.Colour is not just a visual aspect, but a visual language that directly affects consumers' experience and interactions with a brand. It is capable of creating deep connections and generating lasting memories, thus influencing purchasing decisions and affinity towards a brand.

Understanding the psychology of colours and the cultural and emotional associations they bring is essential to creating an effective and lasting brand identity. From the passion evoked by red to the confidence conveyed by blue, each hue tells a story and elicits an emotional response.

The influence of colours on consumer perception is a crucial piece in building a memorable and engaging brand. The choice and skilful use of colour is not just an artistic expression, but a key strategy to emotionally connect with the audience, creating a lasting and meaningful bond. In this fascinating world of colour psychology, the ability to convey messages, emotions and identity through the colour palette remains an invaluable resource for any brand seeking a lasting impact in the minds and hearts of consumers.