Colour takes strategic branding to the next level

Visual perception is the primary sense humans have for exploring and making sense of their environment. Colours trigger a diverse set of responses within the cerebral cortex of the brain and throughout the central nervous system. The proper perception of colour has been one of the key drivers of human evolution. If colour is that important to human evolution, just think how important it is to build the value of your brand.

Once we identify a colour, we instantly have a chemical reaction in our brain that produces an emotional response. This response triggers a multitude of thoughts, memories, and associations to people, places and events. Colour affects us in profound ways. Our brains are designed to respond to color. This all happens instantly under our conscious awareness.

Colour doesn’t really exist; it is nothing more than the reflection of certain light waves picked up by your optic nerve and transmitted through nerves to your brain. Within our conscious minds, we have all been predisposed and indoctrinated to give meanings and feelings to particular colours within the context of what the culture at large values. These cultural associations to specific colours is a big driver for our strategic and creative decisions when forming the foundation of a brand’s identity.

Within the spectrum of visible light, there is a physiological effect – colours with long wavelengths (red for example) illicit a faster recognition response in the brain. While colours with shorter wavelengths (blue) are more soothing and can actually lower our pulse rate, respiration and blood pressure. It’s no accident that an insurance brand like Progressive would have blue as the primary colour for its visual identity system.

The same is true for other colours in the spectrum. Yellow is a middle wavelength colour detected by the eye. It is bright and commands attention, which is why yellow is typically used in road signs. Yellow is about attention, even caution, while red is associated with sex and seduction.

Colours define an emotional state

Colours affect us in many different ways, but all colours create a specific frame of mind for people – it’s called a mood. Having people be in the most receptive mood is essential for their engagement with your brand. Colour sets the mood of brand expression, and more importantly, creates mental associations to the meaning of your brand.

The bottom line

Selecting the right colours to represent your brand should never be an exercise in trendiness, or coolness, driven by the whims of your ad agency creative director or the personal taste of the CEO’s spouse. With properly chosen colours you can define your brand’s value, strength and positioning, which promotes greater awareness and customer recall, further distinguishing your brand.

We welcome your comments.

For tried-and-true winning tactics on how your organization can rise above challenges, take advantage of opportunities, and win business, contact
Ken Etheridge, President & Creative Director

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