Business branding: Colour – Emotion – Sale

If you fail to engage with your customers’ emotions, you’ll fail to make the sale. Engage with your customer’s emotions through the use of colour.

Whenever we buy anything, it is because of an emotional reason. Afterwards, we justify our choices on the basis of performance or price. We like to think of ourselves as logical beings. But really we buy because of an emotional want, a need, a desire.

The facts:

Fact: People buy on emotion

Fact: Colour triggers emotional responses

The right colour = positive emotional trigger = sales  

The wrong colour = negative emotional trigger = no sale

This means that although the effort you put into choosing the right logo/mark, font, strapline and working on your after sales service are all important, the effort is potentially wasted if you don’t get your business brand colours right.

“85% of shoppers place colour as a primary reason for when they buy a particular product.”[1]

What’s really going on

Colour is more than just a visual experience; it influences our mood and behaviour. Established research into theories relating to colour and psychology suggest each colour tone has specific effects that influence us on all levels; mental, emotional and physical.

When we see colours, they are sending unconscious messages in a language that we understand instinctively, the language of emotions. Understanding this helps us to understand the benefits of using colour consciously to best effect.

 “Think of colour as a subliminal language, another way to communicate and to attract your ideal clients…”

Major brands use colour to their advantage. They use colours to engage with their customer’s emotions and encourage them to buy.

For example, look at Coca-Cola. Over the years their packaging and logos may have changed but they have kept their bright red branding colour. This shows they understand the emotional response the colour elicits in us. In this context red makes us feel energised and alert. It speaks to us of power, stimulation and upbeat emotions. People who drink Coca-Cola have a good time.

Even the major companies can get it wrong. In October 2011, Coca-Cola changed their classic red cans to white in aid of the World Wildlife Fund, paying homage to threatened species.

The white cans proved confusing to Diet Coke fans as there was not enough distinction between the white (classic Coke) and silver (Diet Coke) cans. Seeing the backlash this caused, Coca-Cola promptly reverted back to the traditional red can for their classic Coke.

 “Use the wrong tone of colour/s and you could, unknowingly, be repelling your ideal customers.”


Tips to engage with your customers’ emotions through your business brand colours

1. Attracting your ideal customers

You can attract your ideal customer simply by using colour to trigger the right emotional buying responses. They will know (even on a subconscious level) you are the right brand for them, they will know they can trust you to deliver.

2. Know your business brand personality and values

This is key to understanding the exact tone of colours, combination and proportions to use to communicate your business brand message to your ideal clients. Picking colours because they are trendy or hoping your business will stand out from the crowd may in effect repel them.

You are not your ideal customer, so as tempting as it is; your business brand is not about getting your own emotional needs met. Picking colours because you personally like them may not attract your ideal customer.

3. Trigger positive emotional responses

Colours can trigger both positive and negative emotional responses. It is knowing which tone of colour/s to use that will create a positive emotional response. Use the wrong tone of colour/s and you could, unknowingly, be repelling your ideal customers and attracting those who aren’t.

4. Know the subconscious language of colour

It is crucial you get the combination, proportion and the tone of colour/s right. You will know you’ve got this wrong by the type of customer you are attracting. If they aren’t your ideal customers  then you may want to consider looking at what unconscious message your business brand colours are sending out.


1. Harness your knowledge of your customer’s emotions in the way you market and sell to them.

2. Think about how buying from you is going to make your customers feel.

3. Reinforce your customers’ emotional buying decisions with logic, in your literature, both online and offline and in what you and your sales force say to customers after they make a purchase.

Communicating through colour

As a business owner how much thought have you put into the tone and combination of colours that represent your business brand? Do you know what they are actually saying?

Surprisingly, most business owners use colour as decoration or as an afterthought. Instead think of colour as a subliminal language, another way to communicate and to attract your ideal clients.

Used to its full effect, your branding colours will give you the competitive edge, elicit the right emotional response from your prospects, and significantly increase your sales.

What is your experience – did you consider colour when creating your branding and what effect did the chosen colour have on your brand image? Please comment here…





[1] KISSmetrics


Karen Haller

Karen Haller is one of the leading authorities in the field of applied colour psychology. She is an internationally renowned business colour and brand personality expert, helping clients from across the globe transform the branding image of their business. She has consulted, trained and worked on campaigns for a number of prestigious brands including 3M Post-it, Thomas Pink, Humanscale, Dulux, Orange Mobile, Logitech and The Peggy Porschen Cake Academy. Karen is regularly featured in the UK’s leading magazines, newspapers and on radio. She is a published author, consultant, tutor and speaker on the subject of colour psychology, Colour Intuition™, colour association and colour in culture. Karen Haller runs her own colour and design consultancy specialising in the science and psychology of colour and how that is applied to business branding and interiors. When it comes to the design process Karen believes it starts with understanding the authentic personality whether that is of an individual or a business, revealing the colours and design that expresses their true identity. Karen is a co-author of the leading industry book Colour design: Theories and applications, the first of its kind bringing the arts, science and applications together. Karen was commissioned to write chapter 20 - Colour in interior design, discussing the use of colour in both residential and commercial interiors. Karen speaks regularly to businesses and industry professionals on the importance of colour. She has given talks at Grand Designs LIVE on her Colour Intuition™ system and spoke at the prestigious industry Clerkenwell Design week on the importance of colour and how architects and interior designers have an incredible social responsibility with the colour choices they make. Karen is also a trustee of the Colour Group of Great Britain and on the advisory board of the charity Color Cares. Visit for your free e-book on ‘7 Mistakes Most Business Owners Make with Their Branding Colours’. You can connect with Karen by clicking on the icons below.

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