We humans are highly visual creatures, and our thoughts, feelings, actions and decisions are subconsciously dominated by how we perceive the visual appeal of a product or a brand. When brands look to create a unique identity, colour is one of the most important components to be considered.
In this article, we dive into the rainbow of retailing, and explore the psychology of colour in relation to human behaviour and how it affects our decisions to purchase.
Many strong, corporate brands use red in their logo. It feels bold and energetic and conveys powerful and energetic emotions. The colour red tends to encourage appetite, which is why it’s used by brands like Coca Cola, Coles and Coles Express.
Red is also used to capture your attention and literally stop you in your tracks (think red stop signs, red flags and red traffic lights). It’s thought that Australia Post uses red as the primary colour for their brand due to Australia’s British connections and the subliminal association with the famous Royal Mail and their red mailboxes.
Did you know Royal mail post boxes were originally green? Proving difficult to spot, especially in the thick British fog, they were changed to red in 1874.
Pink is a popular colour for brands that primarily serve a female audience. In 2008, Priceline unveiled a new brand identity, replacing red branding for the magenta hue recognised today. Designed to speak to Priceline’s female customer, such gendered positioning was unconventional at the time for retail pharmacy, but with a customer base well over 90% female, it was a smart move for the brand*.
In May 2023, Priceline Pharmacy successfully trademarked the Magenta pantone, joining a prestigious club of iconic brands in Australia who’ve secured trademarks for their signature colour, including Cadbury, Tiffany & Co. and Australia Post.
Priceline General Manager, Andrew Vidler, says pink is now part of the brand’s DNA.
“The Magenta pantone was originally selected to ensure our shopfronts stood out in the marketplace and to communicate that our brand was for women, and everything that was important to them. It became clear that the pink colourway stirs a deeper connection in our customers and store teams, who associate it with being accepted, feeling better and experiencing a touch of magic. We wanted to bottle that,” he said.
In colour psychology, Pink evokes feelings of tenderness, care and positivity, all of which of the cornerstones of Priceline’s brand belief.
The colour blue is considered one of the safest colours for businesses to use for branding.
In colour psychology, blue evokes feelings of stability, harmony, peace, calm and trust.
It’s also considered a colour that is conducive to one-on-one communication – think Officeworks and ANZ. Whippet recently conducted a total brand refresh for Campbells Wholesale, which saw the primary colour palette evolve to two shades of blue, reflecting the company’s reliability and continued success in its 90th year.
Did you know that green is considered the easiest on our eyes because it requires no adjustment when it hits the retina?
Green is also used in night vision because our eyes can differentiate more shades of green than any other colour. Little wonder then that it is the primary brand colour for our client Specsavers.
In terms of colour psychology, green is evocative of nature, growth and health and is therefore a positive fit as a brand colour for Bunnings and Woolworths.
In colour psychology, the meaning for yellow revolves around sunshine. It evokes feelings of happiness, positivity and optimism and in corporate branding is seen as fun, energetic and attention-grabbing. Proving its somewhat surprising versatility, three very different brands - JB Hi-Fi, CommBank and Vegemite - all use yellow as their primary colour.
Did you know cruise ships shy away from using yellow as it can make people feel nauseous? Some claim that babies cry more in yellow rooms, husbands and wives fight more in yellow kitchens, and opera singers throw more tantrums in yellow dressing rooms! However, these reports have not been scientifically proven.
In the marketing world, orange is often used to portray youth, playfulness and courage. Orange represents creativity, adventure, enthusiasm, success and balance so it stands to reason it’s used for less ‘corporate’ brands such as Foxtel, Firefox, Amazon and Harley Davidson.
The persuasive power of colour
Your brand’s visual identity has a huge influence on how your audience perceives your business. Choosing a brand colour palette that is authentic to your brand personality, reflects your values and appeals to your target audience will do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to creating a powerful and meaningful visual identity.