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Why colour choice is important for branding

Colour psychology is a well-researched subject that offers insights into the power of colour when it comes to packaging and marketing. Consumers’ perceptions can be influenced by the choice of tones and hues used for a product, logo or packaging. Brands often think deeply about their colour choices as these can subconsciously influence purchasing decisions. This is because the brain reacts to different colours in various ways.

The psychology of the colour wheel has been used by many companies and branding businesses when developing logos, products and packaging. This wheel is commonly split into cold colours (greens, blues and purples) and warm colours (reds, oranges and yellows). Some brands choose neighboring colours of a similar hue for their packaging while others opt for opposite colours, such as red and green. 

One of the goals for packaging design is to use colours to the advantage of the packaging and product; to make the packaging visually appealing and stand out on the shelf. Colours can be used to assign certain attributes to a product and even influence the perception of luxury for high-end brands. This is achieved by triggering an emotion, which results in a desired behaviour.

Attributes of the main colours

In general, the following colours are attributed with certain characteristics:

  • Red is an attention-grabber that signals excitement or danger.
  • Orange is used to portray creativity and energy.
  • Yellow is optimistic, cheerful and helps a product to stand out.
  • Green is often used for sustainability, emotions and the earth.
  • Blue is quite a conservative colour and can signal calm, intelligence and stability.
  • Purple is a rare colour in nature so it is associated with prestige and intrigue.
  • White is often seen as simple, innocent and pure.
  • Black can resemble power and sophistication.

Other colours, such as gold and silver, can affect the perception of a pack or product on the shelf. These metallic colours often symbolise wealth, success and elegance. The shade of each colour can also make a difference to the packaging design. For example, light blue can be perceived differently to dark blue – sky blue is more playful and youthful whereas navy blue is sophisticated and orderly.

Packaging colour choice requires consideration

Packaging designers will often consult with brands to discuss colour choices. These can be based on the brand’s chosen palette or on the various attributes of colours listed above. These decisions can have an impact on sales volumes and whether or not the packaging is able to catch the eyes of consumers. Having the perfect colour palette can complement a unique design of a pack and make it desirable.

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Written by Joshua Oates

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