The power of colour in design

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Blessing Raimi, Junior Content Designer:
  • Pantone’s Colour of the Year
  • The psychology of colour
  • Colour trademarking

Colour is a fundamental element of graphic design and harnessing the theory of colour, and using it effectively, can greatly enhance outputs. Companies tend to have a colour scheme set as part of their brand guidelines; these colours have high value and aid brand recognition on a cognitive and subconscious level, even before the name of the company is mentioned.

Some successful examples of this are: Dell’s blue, IKEA’s blue and yellow, Cadbury’s purple and Mastercard’s red and yellow interlocking circles.

Heinz has taken a different approach to brand colours, utilising a different colour to represent each of the products under its umbrella, such as red for tomato products, navy blue for mayonnaise, yellow for pasta products and sea blue for beans. A clever idea as the colours are instantly recognisable for each product. 

The psychology of colour can work well when used effectively. For example, brands that revolve around environment tend to use greens within their colour palette; this can represent nature, balance and freshness. Blue is often associated with tranquillity, trust and stability, and purple can evoke a sense of luxury, royalty and ambition, such as the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee logo.

Every year, Pantone releases a Colour of the Year and this has a huge influence across the creative industries, including fashion, graphic design and more. Pantone is the universal language of colour for designers and has its own colour system that ensures the exact colours needed for production are used.  This system is essential for printing designs, as colours can appear very differently on screen versus when printed, and can also be affected by the materials and textures used for the inks printed.  

Colour is so powerful that some organisations have even trademarked specific pantone colours to only be used by them within their niche industries; studies reveal that colour can increase brand recognition by up to 80 percent. Mattel trademarked the signature Pantone pink used for Barbie products. This makes sense when the shade is so iconic to their brand and carries a huge influence on their sales and brand loyalty from consumers. 

When used within the right context, colour has the power to strengthen and reinforce the ethos of a brand. A great place to start when deciding on the colour schemes to use for a brand is to consider what the ethos and aims are and how do those tie in with colour psychology. What values does this brand hold and which colours would best represent this to the target audience? 

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