The relationship between colour and brands


Rosie Brodhurst

Senior Research Executive

Categories Uncategorized

As consumers colour horizons broaden what will it mean for brands?

Colour is a huge part of our lives. It influences our mood and personality. A bright aqua blue sky can be uplifting; whereas a more steely toned slate grey sky can do a pretty good job at instantly extinguishing the day’s optimism.

Consumers are becoming savvier when it comes to colour. Brands like Pantone Universe have opened up the door to more choice, bringing specific Pantone colours into coffee table books and branded homewares. American paint brand Valspar are capitalising on consumers’ desire for more specific colour tastes by offering up to 2100 paint tone options at a B&Q near you.

With brands moving further into the consumer mindset thanks to increasing social media interaction and higher volumes of marketing channels (tailored ads, location-based advertising etc.) brands’ colour choices and how they are communicated with consumers has become imperative.

For many brands the key is in a striking, brand-reflecting choice of colour with 95% of brands using only one or two colours in their logos.

The Guardian has recently carried out colour analysis on the Forbes 500 companies, mapping colour and worth – and it looks like blue and red are serving the majority of brands well.
Brands are having to work harder to use colour to steal focus towards their products. Coca-Cola for example is known for its striking red, so much so that Coca-Cola had the confidence to host an entertainment structure at the London Olympics completely void of all branding apart from colour.

As new brands with little heritage fight it out for market share, the big boy brands have staked their claim on colour. Cadbury’s Pantone 2685C, Coca-Cola’s Pantone 484 and Christian Louboutin’s Pantone 18.1663TP are all tied up, leaving new and lesser brands confused as to whether they should be mimicking or differentiating.



In probably a world first the Australian Government is doing the opposite, staking their claim on a colour with the intention of putting off consumers. Olive Green has been identified as the most unappealing packaging colour and will be applied alongside graphic smoking side-effect images to cigarette packs nationwide from December 1st.

Colour is obviously a huge tool for branding and packaging, but it is worth asking ourselves what big brands actually gain from trademarking ‘their colour’. On one hand it could mean competitors have to work harder to standout on shelf, on the other, the brand risks being seen as dated and less innovative. Only time will be able to shed some light on the hot topic of brand pantones, but regardless of this, we continue to champion creativity and colour in design.