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The Psychology of Colour?

July 7, 2017

There’s this pressing movement in design to move away from stereotypes, to incorporate colour in a unique and impressive way- to tell a story about a brand with colour only. But then, there’s all this information and data out there professing there is a psychology of colour and that human perception is flawed to be attracted to and shy away from particular colours. It even goes a step deeper, differentiating between the preferences of males and females and their expectations of services, goods, what makes them trustworthy and reliable.


To me, it sounds overly complicated. Just because the McDonald’s arches are yellow, doesn’t make feel explicitly ‘optimistic’ or ‘warm’ about the brand; it might make me feel hungry but there’s no notable emotional reaction. IKEA the old champs, they align with yellow and blue which translates to ‘optimism’ and ‘trust’ but so far every flat pack I’ve ever put together has been missing several of those little wooden dowel things…doesn’t leave me very optimistic about the longevity of my furniture!


I suppose the point of this post revolves around brands having integrity to their identity. Our brand exists in the black and white world (side note: what does that say of us psychologically?????) and rarely do we ever dabble in bright colours, mostly preferring a foil or a texture rich stock (or a sneaky pastel in a presentation portfolio) to add a bit of woooow.


I associate black, grey etc as dramatic, as bold and chic. Some brands work colour in really well, as if the personality of the company would suddenly disappear if the primary colours were replaced with scales of black. All I can say is GO THEM for figuring out the psychological expectations of their consumers’ colour preferences. The problem with defining a colour scheme is that you’ve then got to stick to it. It must translate across your digital and print platforms and is hard to change.


We have found in brands we develop that revolve around rigid colours, it becomes monotonous and bland. Whilst this may be our own personal expectation, there’s something to be said for the freedom of changing direction whenever you wish. Then there is the whole issue of which colours to pick. If yellow means this and green means that; are we meant to incorporate the whole colour spectrum? Sure, we’d be preaching colour equality but that would be one helluva confused identity. What if colours you find to be complementary clash horrifically with each other? Or your customers aren’t feeling your vibe? Or not associating the right feelings? OH MY GOD too complicated.


So to round up, use colour if you want. Use 1 colour, 2 colours or all the colours if that floats your boat. After all, you can’t go wrong if you keep it simple, but significant!






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