This is how Brands use colours to get your attention.

You might think that the colours a Brand decides to use don’t concern you. I get it.

“What do I care? I see colours everywhere, doesn’t make a difference to me. All I know is that PepsiCo is the nice guy between them and CocaCola, Nespresso is the better coffee and I love Ikea.”

See, this is a great example that colours affect us. A logo, an advertisement, the background of a website, the walls of a restaurant, all have meticulously chosen colors. Think about how the colours in a living room make you feel, or how you pick and choose your clothes.

To give you an idea, it takes us about 90 seconds to form an opinion on a Brand, and that opinion will be influenced at 62-90% by the colours of the Brand (Source: WebpageFX).

Whether we like it or not, colours trigger our emotions. They can be purposely used to make us feel and act a certain way.

Here, I want to paint a picture (Haha) of how Brands use colours to get your attention or to convey a message.

Now, before we get into the good stuff, keep in mind the following:

  • The psychology and meaning of colours is not black and white (haha again!), it’s not an exact science and there are many interpretations possible.
  • Simply using a colour to convey a message is not enough. The colour will be impactful if it can associated with relevant behaviour. (eg. Green for company that pretends to be Eco-friendly but is not, will have the opposite effect).
  • A Brand cannot influence you just by using colours, but colours indicate a Brand’s intentions.

And now the fun stuff! Let’s look into 4 groups of colours:

  • The Pastel colours: Light, referring to imagination
  • The Warm colours: Loud, intense, playful
  • The Cool colours: Safe, peaceful, wise
  • The Prestige colours: Elegant, demanding respect

The Pastel Colours

ADJECTIVES: Feminine, Playful, Compassionate, Loving

THE EFFECT ON YOU: Want to appear cute, feminine and to feel innocent, targeted for teenagers and young ladies.

WHAT TO DO: See if you are the target!

BRANDS: Barbie, Benefit, Claire’s, Hello Kitty, …

PERSONIFIED BY: Reese Witherspoon in “Legally Blonde” (Anyone else you can think of?)

ADJECTIVES: Simple, Pure, Accessible

THE EFFECT ON YOU: Refers to something new, blank page for you to make it your own.

WHAT TO DO: I know the ad looks satisfyingly pure and clean but don’t let yourself be influenced by that. Look at the actual product.

ADS: Google, Apple, Microsoft, …

PERSONIFIED BY: Anne Hathaway (Comment below with other suggestions)

ADJECTIVES: Modest, Classic, Corporate

THE EFFECT ON YOU: Wants to appear mature and professional.

WHAT TO DO: Ask yourself whether you agree to it or not.

BRANDS: Swarovski, Wikipedia, …

PERSONIFIED BY: Tom Hanks (Do you agree?)

The Warm Colours

REPRESENTS: Passion, Love, Boldness, Impulse

THE EFFECT ON YOU: Wants to trigger your appetite and sense of urgency, accelerates your heart rate.

WHAT TO DO: First of all, calm down, nothing is that necessary!

BRANDS: Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, Nintendo, Lego, Tim Hortons, …

PERSONIFIED BY: Rihanna (I mean, who else!)

ADJECTIVES: Brave, Confident, Friendly, Intelligent

THE EFFECT ON YOU: Kindly commands attention.

WHAT TO DO: Don’t rush.

BRANDS: Fanta, Mozilla Firefox, Home Depot, …

PERSONIFIED BY: Kerry Washington in “Scandal” (Comment with your ideas)

REPRESENTS: Happiness, Energy, Fun, Optimism

THE EFFECT ON YOU: Wants to catch your attention, brings good news.

WHAT TO DO: Remember that you don’t need yellow to feel happy.

BRANDS: Hertz, McDonalds, Best Buy, …

PERSONIFIED BY: Amy Schumer in “I Feel Pretty” (Am I right?)

The Cool Colours

REPRESENTS: Nature, Healing, Growth, Relaxation

THE EFFECT ON YOU: Wants to give you a sense of harmony and tranquility, wants to appear environment friendly.

WHAT TO DO: Just buy more plants man!

BRANDS: Starbucks, Holiday Inn, Tropicana, …

PERSONIFIED BY: Dalai Lama (Share your ideas)

REPRESENTS: Loyalty, Trust, Peace, Security

THE EFFECT ON YOU: Wants to seem reliable and trustworthy.

WHAT TO DO: Listen to a water stream, you’ll be fine.

BRANDS: Facebook, Dell, Ford, Oral-B, …

PERSONIFIED BY: George Clooney (Don’t you think?)

REPRESENTS: Prestige, Nostalgia, Creativity, Wisdom

THE EFFECT ON YOU: Implies wealth and royalty, wants to seem special and imaginative.

WHAT TO DO: ALWAYS RESPECT ROYALTY (Psst, I’m joking. Don’t buy things just because they remind you of your childhood!)

BRANDS: Cadbury, Milka, Yahoo, Hallmark, …

PERSONIFIED BY: Sir Elton John (Do you see it?)

The Prestige Colours

REPRESENTS: Immortality, Charisma, Respect, Glory

THE EFFECT ON YOU: Wants to inspire knowledge and spirituality.

WHAT TO DO: Just embrace it, I mean we’re talking about “Immortality” here!

BRANDS: Lindt & Sprungli, Versace, …

PERSONIFIED BY: Beyoncé (Let’s leave it at that)

ADJECTIVES: Elegant, Determined, Powerful

THE EFFECT ON YOU: Creates feelings of sophistication and uniqueness.

WHAT TO DO: Just ask yourself, “is this worth the price?”

BRANDS: Chanel, Nike, Sony, …

PERSONIFIED BY: Audrey Hepburn (Comment with your opinion)

REPRESENTS: Tradition, Stability, Honesty, Earth

THE EFFECT ON YOU: Feels comfortable and reassuring.

WHAT TO DO: Question what you see. Is the Brand truly established?

BRANDS: Hershey’s, Nespresso, Louis Vuitton, …

PERSONIFIED BY: Al Pacino (El Padre…)

That’s a lot of colours. And there are a lot more, with a lot of nuances and subtleties, associations and preferences between men and women, etc. More things that can be covered in another blog post 🙂

3 thoughts on “This is how Brands use colours to get your attention.

  1. Thank you for your insights. Do you know that Goethe created the colour wheel. He was a famous writer and invented the theory that colours have an impact emotions.

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