Colour speaks to our eyes as words speak to our ears according to Jim Krause in the “Colour Index”.
It’s not only a fascinating tool for storytelling but also for business.
The digital space is extremely noisy hence colour, when used right, can be extremely effective in building your brand.
Because of the extreme depth of the subject, colour can be confusing.
If you’re launching a new vegan e-commerce brand for example, how do you make sure that your Brand Colour will resonate with your ideal customer?
In this article, I’d like to share my thoughts on how you can choose the right colour for your business whether that’s deciding on the Brand Colours, choosing a Colour Scheme for your Website or planing your next Social Campaign.
On top of that, I’ll share some insights into why colour is important for brands and marketing.
1. Colour in numbers
2. The impact of colour
3. Colours and humans
5. How to choose the right colour for your brand / website / advertising campaign?
1. Colour in numbers
Did you know that the human eye can see over 7 millions of colours?
And then, a computer screen can display 1 billion of colours?
Compare that with print where using the CMYK process we can create around 160 thousands of colours.
That’s A LOT of colours.
Let me also add that colour is one of the most meaningful, archaic and instinctive communication forms we have.
The study by Loyola University Maryland shows that colour is registered by our brain first. After that come images, shapes and typography (by the way, images are processed by our eyes 60,000 faster than words).
Let’s think about this for a second. When you’re walking through Oxford street in London - what do you notice first, the yellow shopping bags of Selfridges carried by the passersby - or the Selfridges’ logo on the bags?
We can use colour to very efficiently and quickly communicate the message and build associations with brands or products.
2. The Impact of Colour
90 seconds - it’s how long it takes us on average to make a subconscious judgement about a person, environment, brand or a product. What’s even more interesting, up to 90% of that assessment is based on colour alone.
Moving this concept into the digital world, the numbers are even more skewed.
On average a person spends around 15 seconds on a web page for example.
Or if we want to talk in social media terms, then we have 0.2 seconds to actually stop someone from scrolling past your content.
Successful brands understand the power of colour, that’s why Tiffany, for example, trademarked their iconic light robin-egg blue in 2001. The “Tiffany’s Blue” has been applied extensively throughout the brand’s touchpoints, including packaging, space design and digital marketing communications.
Colour alone can boost brand recognition by 80%.
3. Colour and humans
We humans are biologically built to translate colours into emotions. Psychologically, we associate each colour with a certain feeling - it’s called colour psychology.
Very powerful stuff, right?
In the marketing world we use colour absolutely everywhere:
- Advertising (online and online)
- You name it, we used colour there
And that’s awesome.
With a bit of research, testing and exploration you can use the power of colour to build a better world and communicate your messages clearly.
The curve ball is that everyone perceives colour differently, based on their upbringing, location, experience, culture, natural environment, gender, race and nationality.
There are some generic attempts to classify colour associations (internet is flooded with those images) which are useful to some extent, but I wouldn’t base my decision only on that premise.
What is 100% true is that colours affect our bodies in a physiological and emotional way.
Let’s think again about “Tiffany's Blue” for a minute. The Pantone 1845 (named after the founding year of the jewellery brand) is a lovely turquoise which our eyes read as the blue and green light waves mixed together.
You see, (pun intended) in our eyes we have colour receptors called the cones.
We have 3 types of them.
One type of cones reacts to the blue light waves, other type is responsible for the red waves, lastly the third cone type is designed to decipher the green light waves.
When a light wave hits the eye, it is decoded by the cones and a signal is sent to our brain (the visual cortex in the limbic system). It is our brain that understands that signal as turquoise. The limbic system is also responsible for emotions. That’s why colour means feeling in very simple terms.
Think McDonalds. The logo is red and yellow.
Now think Ferrari. The logo is yellow and red.
In theory both brands use the same family of hues (hue is another way of saying colour) but because of the context of its application (and also their actual colour values), both brands build a completely different set of emotions and responses inside us.
Carlos Centeno frames this very well:
“I like to think of color as words in a sentence. A word by itself is just a word. Put it in a phrase or sentence, and the word becomes more than its dictionary definition; it becomes an idea, a feeling, an expression. It may even come to mean something entirely different than the standard interpretation”
5. How do I choose the right colour for my brand, website or digital campaign?
- First understand the product and brand that you’re selling.
What do they stand for?
What values does the product represent?
- Secondly, who are you speaking to?
This is KEY.
Is it a group of GenZ? Female Vegans around 35yo?
- What colour will reinforce the message?
Victoria Secret for example, they produce elegant lingerie for women, the main accent colour they use is pink - and for their target audience pink is associated with femininity, calmness and intimacy.
Let’s look at Tiffany & Co as an example.
Tiffany & Co is a well known luxury jewellery brand that has been around for over 175 years.
They stand for glamour, diamonds, elegance, excitement and excellence.
Their use of the signature blue was initiated by the founder, who chose that colour for the cover of the Blue Book - the first annual collection of exquisitely handcrafted jewels published in 1845.
This distinctive colour may have been chosen because of the popularity of the turquoise gemstone in 19th-century jewellery.
Turquoise was also a favourite of Victorian brides who gave their attendants a dove-shaped brooch of turquoise as a wedding day memento.
Tiffany Blue was later adopted for use on shopping bags, as well as in advertising and other promotional materials. True to the founder’s vision, the Tiffany Blue Box® became an icon of luxury and exclusivity. As The New York Sun reported in 1906.
Colour has a great power to enhance the message you’re communicating with your brand, website or advertising campaign.
The context in which the colour is used is extremely important, so make sure to really understand your audience and what makes them tick.
Being customer-centric & authentic is what will grow your business in 2020.
I'm a big colour geek and I'm always happy to grab a coffee and talk about the Pantone swatches or UI colours. If there's something colour related that bothers you or simply you'd like to bounce some ideas about colour drop me a line on my email or social.