The Power of Colour in Design

Different colours have different effects on people. The colours you choose to include in your branding can have a serious influence on your audience and how they perceive and interact with your brand.

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Different colours have different effects on people. According to the principles of colour psychology, the colours you choose to include in your branding can have a serious influence on your audience and how they perceive and interact with your brand.

Colours can affect how people feel, how they behave, and how they perceive things. So how do you go about choosing the right colour for your brand?

We’ve added this handy guide below, so you can make the wise choice for your product, service and industry.


Strength, seriousness, power, authority and elegance or sophistication.
Black is used to commonly target youth and a high-end audience. It is a mysterious colour that is typically associated with the unknown or the negative.

Authoritative and powerful, the colour black can evoke strong emotions, and too much black can be overwhelming. In western countries black is the colour of mourning, death, and sadness.

We think of black as sophisticated and serious. It’s the preferred colour for much formal attire, and the little black dress is a classic piece of attire that’s timeless and always appropriate.

Black is unambiguous, definite. It’s not easily misunderstood, and in design it’s dramatic and helps create a feeling of certainty.


Purity, innocence, light, safety, brilliance and cleanliness.

A blank canvas, being pure white, is satisfying and clear to look at. Painting the walls in your entire house white is now a trend as it has a clean and classy look.

The colour white gives mental clarity and a look of freshness that is clutter free. Like most colours, when overused white can have a negative impact, being blinding if it is in very bright light.  White is a very complimentary colour as it almost goes with any colour on the colour wheel.

Most logos are usually made available as a "reversed" or white-only option, which can be used on a multitude of background options.


Conservative, sophistication, practicality, maturity, reliability, and elegance
A timeless and practical colour, grey is often associated with loss or depression. Dark, charcoal gray communicates some of the strength and mystery of black. It is a sophisticated colour that lack the negativity of the colour black.

Light grays can carry some of the attributes of the colour white. In business it is often used as a good background colour for other shades, giving them prominence because of its dullness. Hence, it is often the main colour in laptops, calculators, phones, mobiles, medical machinery and calculators, highlighting elegance, and ability to adapt to any background it is place against.

And when it comes to spelling? "Grey" is British English, and "gray" is American English.


Energy, war, danger, strength, power, passion, desire, and love
Red is an emotionally intense colour that enhances human metabolism, increases respiration rate, and raises blood pressure. It has extremely high visibility, which is why stop signs, stoplights, and fire equipment are usually painted red.

Interesting facts about the colour red:
• Approximately 77% of all flags include red.
• Red is the colour of good luck in Asia, and is the most popular colour in China.
• Red is an auspicious colour for marriage. Brides in India and Nepal wear red saris; in Japan, a red kimono symbolizes happiness and good luck.

However… eight percent of the male population has red-green colour blindness and cannot see red at all!


Trust, loyalty, cleanliness, authority, and understanding
Blue is the favourite colour of all people. It’s nature’s colour for water and sky, but is rarely found in fruits and vegetables.

Most blues convey a sense of trust, loyalty, cleanliness, and understanding. On the other hand, blue evolved as symbol of depression in American culture. “Singing the blues” and feeling blue” are good examples of the complexity of colour symbolism and how it has been evolved in different cultures.

• Blue's global similarities are significant:
• 53% of the flags in the world contain blue.
• Blue is the most used colour in corporate identity.
• Aristocracy is “blue-blooded” in all European languages.
• Dark blue is the colour of mourning in Korea.
• Blue is for a baby girl, and pink for a baby boy in Belgium.


Growth, harmony, plenty, nature, rebirth, and fertility
Green is mainly used to represent eco-friendly companies or businesses revolving around agriculture, recycling, landscaping, gardening and solar power. It is the colour of nature and gives a calming effect while representing growth.

Green is no longer just a colour – it's now the symbol of ecology and a verb. Since the beginning of time, green has signified growth, rebirth, and fertility. In pagan times, there was the "Green Man" - a symbol of fertility. In Muslim countries, it is a holy colour and in Ireland, a lucky colour.

Global Meanings of Green
• Green is universally associated with nature.
• Green symbolizes ecology and the environment.
• Traffic lights are green all over the world.


Happiness, warmth, optimism, and creativity
In the natural world, yellow is the colour of sunflowers and daffodils, egg yolks and lemons, canaries and bees.

In our contemporary human-made world, yellow is the colour of Sponge Bob, the Tour de France winner’s jersey, happy faces, post its, and signs that alert us to danger or caution.

• In almost every culture yellow represents sunshine, happiness, and warmth.
• Yellow is the colour of traffic lights and signs indicating caution all over the world.
• In Japan, yellow often represents courage, whereas in the Western World is can denote cowardice.
• In China, adult movies are referred to as yellow movies.


enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, and stimulation
Orange combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. Orange is vibrant. It is hot, healthy, fruity and engaging – but it can be abrasive and crass.

It’s a polarizing colour: people either love it or detest it.

To the human eye, orange gives the sensation of heat and yet is not as aggressive as red. Orange increases oxygen supply to the brain, produces an invigorating effect, and stimulates mental activity.

Orange's global similarities are significant:
• Orange evokes the taste of healthy fruits, bursting with juice.
• Orange is associated with vitamin C and good health.
• Orange is symbolic of autumn.
• Children all over the world are drawn to orange.
• Orange is the colour of life rafts, hazard cones, and high visibility police vests.


Celebration, royalty, luxury, mysery, spirituality, creativity and education
Purple’s rarity in nature and the expense of creating the colour and has given purple a supernatural aura for centuries.

The earliest purple dyes date back to about 1900 B.C. It took some 12,000 shellfish to extract 1.5 grams of the pure dye - barely enough for dying a single garment the size of the Roman toga. It’s no wonder then, that this colour was used primarily for garments of the emperors or privileged individuals.

Over the course of history, purple pigments and dyes became less costly and complex, but one thing has remained the same: Purple symbolises nobility and luxury to most people in the world.

There are three distinct purples: red-purples are warm, blue-purples are cool, and pure purple is neutral.

• Purple tends to be a colour that people either love or hate.
• Among Mediterranean people, purple was reserved for emperors and popes. The Japanese christened it “Imperial Purple”
• Only two flags contain purple - Dominica and Nicaragua.


Stability, reliability, dependability, and approachability
Brown is a neutral colour that is the colour of our soil, growth, fertility, and earth, and it is associated the concepts of “all natural” and “organic.”

Other meanings associated with the colour brown:
• The term “brown bottle” refers to a bottle of beer.
• To “brown” something is to cook or burn it.
• The saying “brown-nose” refers to someone who sucks up, or kisses butt to someone of authority.
• The phrase “brown study” is used to describe someone who is aloof, indifferent.
• The expression “brown out” refers to a partial loss of service.


Youth, hope, good health, calm, beauty, sweetness and innocence.
Pink is a combination of the colour red and white, a hue that can be described as a tint. It can range from berry (blue-based) pinks to salmon (orange-based) pinks. Pink symbolizes youth, good health, and playfulness. It’s the flush of first love and stands for nurturing femininity.

It’s used as the symbolic colour of the movement to support breast cancer research, and we think of pink as an innocent, cheerful colour.

In almost every culture, one stereotype emerges: pink is associated with girls, blue with boys. Unfortunately, there is no consensus on its origin.

Pink is thought to have a calming effect. One shade known as "drunk-tank pink" is sometimes used in prisons to calm inmates. Sports teams sometimes paint the opposing team's locker room pink to keep the players passive and less energetic.

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The Power of Colour in Design

Different colours have different effects on people. The colours you choose to include in your branding can have a serious influence on your audience and how they perceive and interact with your brand.

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