Business branding: why colour matters

Did you know that colour is the first thing we notice? In fact, up to 85% of the initial perception of your business brand or product is based on colour alone.[1]

That’s a pretty cool fact.
So, why is this? Well, we like to think we are logical beings, but we will in fact, make purchases based on emotion. Colour can trigger emotional responses, so the colours you choose for your business branding will really affect your customer’s decision to buy.

Do you know what effect your brand colours – the tone and the colour combination – are having on your potential customers?
Are they attracting or repelling your ideal clients?

Colour is registered by the brain before images or typography, making the colours you use for your business branding a key component of your brand’s identity and personality. So, why wouldn’t you want to get your colours right?

7  useful tips for choosing your business brands colours:

1 – Engage with your customer’s emotions

If you fail to engage with your customers’ emotions, you’ll fail to make the sale. However you can use colour to increase your sales.

Major brands use colour to their advantage. They use their brand colour to engage with their customer’s emotions and encourage them to buy. 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 energy, power, stimulation and upbeat emotions; People who drink Coca-Cola have a good time.


2 – Build trust

If people don’t trust you they won’t buy from you. Using the same colour consistently throughout all aspects of your business builds trust and customer loyalty.

Hermes, Harrods and Sainsbury’s used their brand colours consistently, instilling customer trust and loyalty.

If every time you saw their signage they had used a different tone of their branding colour, unconsciously you may feel the company is flaky and unreliable. You’ll never quite know who they are showing up as, and this could damage the perception of their brand. Building brand trust is so important when it comes to loyalty and repeat sales.


3 – Be instantly recognisable

Colour is the first thing we see. Imagine the power of your brand if it can be recognised by the tone and the combination of colours alone.

Think about the last time you saw any advertising or packaging from Virgin, Starbucks or Chanel. Not only can you see their brand colour/s in your mind’s eye right now, but the last time you saw their billboard or newspaper advertisement, it’s likely you recognised the brand from the colours used, before you even took in the shapes or logos.

At that moment of recognition, you experienced psychological and emotional effects, the feelings and the sensations that brand has on you – sometimes subtly and sometimes very clearly.

“Colour is registered by the brain before either images or typography. Colour increases brand recognition by up to 80%.” Source: University of Loyla, Maryland study


4 – Be authentic

If you project one thing and then deliver another, your brand is not being authentic and customers hate to be deceived. Do you know your Brand’s Authentic Colour Personality?

Each brand has an authentic personality. Some are very clear to see, others aren’t.

Fortnum & Mason and Selfridges are both department stores yet each has a very distinct brand personality, attracting very different types of customers. And they are doing this very successfully.

This is clearly reflected in the tonal colour group and actual colours they have chosen to express in their brand personality.


5 – Don’t underestimate the significance of colour in culture

We work in a global market and it’s so easy to get your products and services in front of a global audience. Have you stopped to consider the message your branding colours may be saying to those from different cultures?

Don’t underestimate the importance we put on the significance colours have in our cultures. They can make or break a product or an entire brand. For example, black may be considered stylish and sophisticated in one culture yet may represent death in another. Imagine the negative impact this could have on your sales.


6 – Represent your brand through business clothing

You and your team are the working embodiment of your brand. You already know they need to look the part. Using your branding colours in your staff work wear is an effective way to further market your brand.

Every interaction a member of staff has with customers and the general public is an opportunity for your brand to gain additional exposure. It’s like having your own living advert.

You only have to go to a busy airport to witness this. Airline staff are easy to identify.The first thing you notice is the colour of their uniforms. Some brand colours will catch the eye quicker than others such as the red of Virgin and the orange of EasyJet. If you are flying BA you will still ‘train’ your eyes to look out for their dark blue brand colour.

7 – Use your brand colours in your work place

When a potential buyer is in your workspace you have the best chance of making a sale. Using your brand colour will reinforce your brand’s attraction and make that sale even easier.

Major brands never miss an opportunity to reinforce brand awareness. When you walk through the doors of any major business you will notice they use their brand colours to full effect. Walk into a Vodafone store and there is no mistaking where you are. You see their trademark red and on a sub-conscious level you have already confirmed you are in the right place. If instead you saw bright pink you would instinctively think you had wandered into T-Mobile by mistake.


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. Try to 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.


[1] CCICOLOR Institute for Color Research

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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