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The Psychology of Colour: Seas The Right Shade For Your Brand




Jun 3, 2019

The Psychology of Colour: Seas The Right Shade For Your Brand

There’s an ancient maritime saying that goes, “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.” Knot to be ignored, before setting sail, check out a few of these lesser-known colourful quotes warning of the possibility of foul weather found on the horizon:

  • Evening red and morning grey, help the traveller on his way
  • Orange or yellow can hurt a fellow
  • Evening grey and morning red bring down a rain upon his head
  • A rainbow in the morning gives you fair warning

Although these weather-related, cautionary tales are mostly fodder found in old wives tales, there is a little bit of truth behind some of these warnings depending upon the circumstance. The same is said when using the colours of red, orange and yellow as they are often associated with danger, caution or as a warning especially when they’re commonly seen on construction sites, used on traffic signs and roadway signals.

Stop At Red

The colour red is utilized all over the world as a way to communicate with travellers that they need to legally come to a stop immediately. Similarly, it’s seen as a negative clicking choice or as a halting icon found on the internet. If you think this is a poor choice for a colourful brand association, think again when you consider some of the biggest, most recognizable logos on a global-level are red; like Coca-Cola or Budweiser. Others include red, yellow and/or orange colours when looking at McDonald’s, Google, Microsoft and Amazon noticed globally both online and off.

In the world of psychology, the color red has been scientifically proven to raise blood pressure, increase heart rates, stimulate a people’s appetite and charges their metabolism which is why it’s a popular choice for restaurants, those in the food and beverage industries. This attention-grabbing hue is also associated with being outspoken or aggressive. 

Going Green

It’s only been somewhat recently the colour green has been linked to the environment, recycling and health of our planet. However, many brands have been using this go-getter of a shade for many decades like John Deere tractors and their earthy equipment. Other well-known brands bearing this shade include Starbucks, Whole Foods and Monster energy drinks.

Green is often associated with money, power or wealth and on an emotional level, it elicits feelings of peace tranquility and being calm. Back to the green Starbucks logo, if you break down this brand image you’ll find:

  • The grassy shade ties their products to mother earth,
  • While the use of a mermaid as their mascot stimulates a connection with the ocean and nature and
  • Finally, the color green invites customers to calmly come in, relax and take a coffee break

The Populous Blue Seas And Sky

If you were to ask a person their favourite colour, the majority of them would respond with blue as their choice. Perhaps it’s because the majority of the surface of our planet is bathed in blue seas or maybe it’s commonly the shade of sky that covers us daily. Breaking this hue preference down even further, given gender bias, blue is favored by 42% of men compared to 29% of women.

Arg! What A Scurvy Shade Indeed

As the majority of us are already aware, the condition of scurvy was a common occurrence among seafaring men during the late eighteenth century. Caused by a lack of vitamin C during long ocean voyages, having oranges or other favorite citrus fruits like yellow lemons on board would have easily conquered this affliction.

Ironically, the colour of orange and yellow both rank low on the scale of preferred hues for women and men alike. But don’t sell either of these shades short when you consider:

  • While orange is often seen on construction sites as a cautionary sign, it’s also the signature shade for beverage brands like Fanta and Crush orange sodas. The combination of red and yellow is said to be cheerful and confident as seen on Hooters and Harley-Davidson shirts. 
  • Yellow exudes feelings of warmth, optimistic thoughts and enthusiasm being favored among children along with other bright, primary colors. It’s also associated with sunshine and happiness as seen on the iconic yellow smiley face that has graduated into being a popular emoji choice.

More Gender Benders

With blue being generally considered a masculine shade compared to pink for females, this may be why men dislike the shades of salmon, rose and carnation. You’d think women would be embracing the colour pink, but they actually favor purple twenty-times more than the chosen tint associated with their gender. This is why you’ll often find violet hues adorning more feminine industries and products like Barbie dolls, lingerie or the Hallmark channel.

Meanwhile, men are drawn to more masculine imagery such as the pairing of black-and-white with metallics like silver or gold. Think of the Jolly Roger flag flying high on the seven seas or even the current, popular logo for the pirate-esque Oakland Raiders football team from the United States. You’ll find silver and gold being paired together with black-and-white on products often purchased by men like jewelry, liqueurs and cigars.

The Many Shades Of Grey

Speaking of black-and-white, the colour grey has almost countless shades (an obvious nod to fifty of them) when combining the two colors together to achieve varying levels of darkness or light. Grey is perceived as having a calming nature with a balancing effect with viewers. Similarly, the use of black-and-white is also known as utilizing “white space” in advertising can be quite compelling.

Back in the days of yellow page advertising, when it came to restaurant marketing, it was common to see full-page and full-colour ads appearing inside these phone books. In one case, marketers of a restaurant known as The White House choose to publish black-and-white graphics and content to showcase this eatery. Surrounded by fellow advertisers on these pages, seen against all those images drenched in colour, the grey tones and content stuck out like a sore thumb.

When you’re looking to add more colour to your brand be sure to contact one of our crew today. We’ll navigate your brand towards the correct choice when it comes to using the right (or starboard) type of shade to connect with today’s consumers online.

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