We are the change

Business branding: why colour matters

Did you know that colour is the first thing we notice? In fact, up to 85% of the initial perception of your business brand or product is based on colour alone.[1]

That’s a pretty cool fact.
So, why is this? Well, we like to think we are logical beings, but we will in fact, make purchases based on emotion. Colour can trigger emotional responses, so the colours you choose for your business branding will really affect your customer’s decision to buy.

Do you know what effect your brand colours – the tone and the colour combination – are having on your potential customers?
Are they attracting or repelling your ideal clients?

Colour is registered by the brain before images or typography, making the colours you use for your business branding a key component of your brand’s identity and personality. So, why wouldn’t you want to get your colours right?

7  useful tips for choosing your business brands colours:

1 – Engage with your customer’s emotions

If you fail to engage with your customers’ emotions, you’ll fail to make the sale. However you can use colour to increase your sales.

Major brands use colour to their advantage. They use their brand colour to engage with their customer’s emotions and encourage them to buy. Look at Coca-Cola. Over the years their packaging and logos may have changed but they have kept their bright red branding colour. This shows they understand the emotional response the colour elicits in us. In this context red makes us feel energised and alert. It speaks to us of energy, power, stimulation and upbeat emotions; People who drink Coca-Cola have a good time.


2 – Build trust

If people don’t trust you they won’t buy from you. Using the same colour consistently throughout all aspects of your business builds trust and customer loyalty.

Hermes, Harrods and Sainsbury’s used their brand colours consistently, instilling customer trust and loyalty.

If every time you saw their signage they had used a different tone of their branding colour, unconsciously you may feel the company is flaky and unreliable. You’ll never quite know who they are showing up as, and this could damage the perception of their brand. Building brand trust is so important when it comes to loyalty and repeat sales.


3 – Be instantly recognisable

Colour is the first thing we see. Imagine the power of your brand if it can be recognised by the tone and the combination of colours alone.

Think about the last time you saw any advertising or packaging from Virgin, Starbucks or Chanel. Not only can you see their brand colour/s in your mind’s eye right now, but the last time you saw their billboard or newspaper advertisement, it’s likely you recognised the brand from the colours used, before you even took in the shapes or logos.

At that moment of recognition, you experienced psychological and emotional effects, the feelings and the sensations that brand has on you – sometimes subtly and sometimes very clearly.

“Colour is registered by the brain before either images or typography. Colour increases brand recognition by up to 80%.” Source: University of Loyla, Maryland study


4 – Be authentic

If you project one thing and then deliver another, your brand is not being authentic and customers hate to be deceived. Do you know your Brand’s Authentic Colour Personality?

Each brand has an authentic personality. Some are very clear to see, others aren’t.

Fortnum & Mason and Selfridges are both department stores yet each has a very distinct brand personality, attracting very different types of customers. And they are doing this very successfully.

This is clearly reflected in the tonal colour group and actual colours they have chosen to express in their brand personality.


5 – Don’t underestimate the significance of colour in culture

We work in a global market and it’s so easy to get your products and services in front of a global audience. Have you stopped to consider the message your branding colours may be saying to those from different cultures?

Don’t underestimate the importance we put on the significance colours have in our cultures. They can make or break a product or an entire brand. For example, black may be considered stylish and sophisticated in one culture yet may represent death in another. Imagine the negative impact this could have on your sales.


6 – Represent your brand through business clothing

You and your team are the working embodiment of your brand. You already know they need to look the part. Using your branding colours in your staff work wear is an effective way to further market your brand.

Every interaction a member of staff has with customers and the general public is an opportunity for your brand to gain additional exposure. It’s like having your own living advert.

You only have to go to a busy airport to witness this. Airline staff are easy to identify.The first thing you notice is the colour of their uniforms. Some brand colours will catch the eye quicker than others such as the red of Virgin and the orange of EasyJet. If you are flying BA you will still ‘train’ your eyes to look out for their dark blue brand colour.

7 – Use your brand colours in your work place

When a potential buyer is in your workspace you have the best chance of making a sale. Using your brand colour will reinforce your brand’s attraction and make that sale even easier.

Major brands never miss an opportunity to reinforce brand awareness. When you walk through the doors of any major business you will notice they use their brand colours to full effect. Walk into a Vodafone store and there is no mistaking where you are. You see their trademark red and on a sub-conscious level you have already confirmed you are in the right place. If instead you saw bright pink you would instinctively think you had wandered into T-Mobile by mistake.


Communicating through colour

As a business owner how much thought have you put into the tone and combination of colours that represent your business brand? Do you know what they are actually saying?

Surprisingly, most business owners use colour as decoration or as an afterthought. Try to think of colour as a subliminal language, another way to communicate and to attract your ideal clients.

Used to its full effect, your branding colours will give you the competitive edge, elicit the right emotional response from your prospects, and significantly increase your sales.


[1] CCICOLOR Institute for Color Research

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  1. Tamsin Fox-Davies says

    Great article, Karen.

    I think it’s fascinating that people (potential customers) respond to colour in this way. We can all take advantage of this by getting our brand colours exactly ‘right’.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Karen Haller says

      Hi Tamsin,

      When it comes to business branding, colour is one signalling system most business owners just don’t use to it’s full potential. By simply using the right colours it can attract your potential customers. I’m sure no one intentionally sets out to intentionally repel them.

  2. SMBSEOAUS says

    I have learned that color plays a important role in all our visual experiences. Thus, it is very essential on what color you will choose in your branding. This informative post is very great! I acquired new knowledge. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Karen Haller says

      You’re welcome.

      You’re absolutely right. Colour does play an important role in all our visual experiences. Both on a concious and maybe even more importantly on an unconscious level.

  3. Keren Lerner says

    Great tips Karen – really like the tip of wearing company colours. I always notice when business owners wear their branded colours, it really completes the “look” – and I think others notice these things too. I also like it when they have coloured pens and notebooks which are in the company colours. The little touches make a difference! If you are going to have a business colour you should “own it” for sure!

    1. Karen Haller says

      Hi Keren,

      Staff wearing branded colour uniforms really does complete the look. You’re spot on there.

      Great suggestion about additional branded items such as pens etc. It keeps your brand in the mind of your clients and potential clients. Branded merchandise is a multi-million pound industry.

      Own your brand colours – it’s all about the colour recognition clues.

  4. Joanne Cumper says

    Shame these principles weren’t applies to the Olympics branding…..

    1. Karen Haller says

      Hi Joanne,

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.

      There will be a personality to the London Olympics, it just may not be one that everyone resonates with, which is only natural. During July I will be writing articles on this very topic.

  5. Tanya Rennick says

    Great article Karen. Keeping the colours consistent in everything you do is really important. It’s making me have a good think about my own!

    1. Karen Haller says

      Hi Tanya,

      You’re spot on. Once you know the right colours that reflect your business brand personality & values, it only makes sense you would want everyone to recognise your brand, and not think it is some cheap imitation…

  6. Jane Fardon says

    Great article. I think you’ve also got to consider the use of colour on the people in your business. If people feel better about themselves, by wearing the right colours and looking more beautiful, they conduct themselves better in business.

    1. Karen Haller says

      Hi Jane,

      You’re absolutely right. If the people in your business don’t wear a branded uniform (i.e. to embody the personality of the business brand), then the colours they choose to wear need to support how they are feeling and how they want others to interact with them.

  7. Stephanie @ Fairground Media says

    Karen, what an awesome job you have! And no doubt you do it well. I’m an American who happened to stumble upon this website, so my word is “color,” but I absolutely love this subject. I’ve writen just a little about color psychology on my e-commerce blog (http://www.fairgroundmedia.com/infographic-color-psychology-in-logo-design). Anyway, thanks for this article. I’m really glad I came across it and you.

    1. Karen Haller says

      Hi Stephanie,

      Yes, I do love my work… colour all day long 🙂

      I’ve just been over to your website and left a comment.

      I will be writing articles each month on the subject of business branding and colour so do remember to pop back over here to read the next one early August.

  8. Nicola Holden says

    Thanks for sharing this article Karen. I will be giving my own colour branding a lot of thought over the next few weeks / months.

    1. Karen Haller says

      Hi Nicola,

      Enjoy the journey of discovering your authentic brand personality and the colours that express this.

  9. Sharon says

    Hi Karen

    A thought provoking article about colour. It is an important part of our lives in general as colours elicit emotion, as you state.

    You mentioned early in your article colours being recognised before typography and for some reason I thought back to times before there were letters (this may not relate to business). It would have been colour, shape and perhaps patterns that were instantly recognisable. This might go some way to us understanding the importance of colour now.

    I look forward to reading more from you about colour and business branding.



    1. Karen Haller says

      Hi Sharon,

      You are absolutely right. Our brain registers colour first, then shapes which will be either patterns, words. We connect emotionally to colour and if that repels us we don’t even take in the shapes, we can instantly be turned off. Colour is a very powerful signally tool.