Brand Strategy

The Psychology of Colour in Retail Branding

Jaco van der Watt | August 28 2015

For retailers, shopping is the art of persuasion. One of the major psychological influences brands have over their consumers is the colour they use. Colour can be everything to a brand and what it is trying to communicate. It is important for brands as their target markets react instinctively to it. ‘Red means stop. Green means go.’ We are all programmed to react to colour. So much so that it accounts for 85% of the reason why someone decides to purchase a product. Marketers must understand the psychology of colour in order to use it effectively.

The three basic principles of colour need to be understood in order to implement the correct colours in a brand identity. These principles are hue, saturation and value.

Hue is the wavelength of a colour. This determines the label of the colour used such as green or red. Saturation refers to the intensity of the colour and the value refers to the brightness of a colour. These three factors determine how people perceive colour and thus the associations they form with it.

Research shows that green is primarily associated with nature and positive feelings such as relaxation and calmness. Blue is associated with water, positive responses that includes comfort and peace. Red is associated with love and is also considered to be a colour of dominance. Black is associated with power, whereas yellow and orange are associated with happiness. Studies also show that people describe red as “anger,” “energy” and “passion.” Orange and yellow are seen as more cheerful. Green and blue were described as “peaceful,” “relaxing,” “clean” and “calming.”

Thus, when deciding on the colour palette of your brand or product, it is essential to know what the brand personality should be.

In conclusion, colour is not simply an afterthought of the branding process and a great deal of time is spent in selecting the correct colour for a brand or product. Using the correct colours that compliments a brand or product can mean increase in sales and the success of a branding exercise.

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