You may have encountered a wheel like the one below before. Which colour should you choose for your logo to ensure your new start up is a success? It’s diagrams like this that feed into an over simplification around colour.
Red is for love, Green is for envy.
There have been countless studies on the significance of colour. Colour psychology is big business for a reason! I do however think our focus has been misplaced, whilst blue does usually provide a useful short hand for both healthcare and technology, and red seems very popular amongst cars, banks and fast food companies. It’s when you break colours down to their hues that it gets interesting.
We all have different cultural and environmental reactions to colour. Or, we may simply have a different response to a colour dependant on the time of day, or the context. After dinner, still slightly hungry you may link the colour brown with chocolate (warm and comforting) whereas on a rainy day, outside with you wellies on – mud is more likely to spring to mind (cold and messy).
Companies therefore can’t make decisions on colour based on arbitrary thoughts, instead the emphasis needs to be with the colours supporting the personality the company needs to project rather than the colour phycology wheels of the 1990’s.
Jennifer Aaker, a professor at Stanford University, looks into brand personality linked to colour. Her paper titled Dimensions of Brand Personality focuses instead on five words within a brand personality framework; Sincerity, Excitement, Competence, Sophistication, and Ruggedness.
Focus on the hue
Often, personality can be better communicated by colour palettes than individual colours. I shall illustrate with some well known paint companies …
A large number of those colours could be selected for a brand’s visual identity, with the bright colours of Habitat’s paint range working well for vibrant start-ups attracting a millennial workforce, and Farrow & Ball’s paint range chiming with middle class countryside dwellers! Whether a blue or a green was selected, the tone of the colour would match the indented personality of the brand.