Evolution of Colours and their role in Brand Identity

It is believed artists invented pigments using a combination of soil, animal fat, burnt charcoal, and chalk as long as 40,000 years ago. Initially, artists only invented a basic palette that consisted of red, yellow, brown, black, and white. Later, through scientific progress and advancement, colours like blue, green and violet were invented. Since then, there have been numerous discoveries of new and colours simply by mixing and experimenting.

Today, colours are present all around us and are associated with every aspect of our lives. They influence the way we think, cause actions and reactions. They can irritate or soothe your eyes. Some colours are calm and give us a feeling of serenity while some can cause anxiety. Every colour has its unique meaning and associations. In today’s society, colours have become a very powerful form of communication and are irreplaceable. The study of human behaviour towards colours is known as ‘Colour Psychology’ and this is a widely used concept in Marketing and Branding. Here, we will see how our mind perceives certain colours:


Red: Red is known to be a very strong, noticeable and an emotionally intense colour.  Red is most associated with energy, youth, courage, strength, warmth, desire, passion and excitement. While on the other hand, it is also associated with war, danger and aggression. Red has the ability to enhance metabolism, raise blood pressure and increase our respiration rate. Red colour also makes objects appear much closer than they actually are and thus, grabs more attention this is why danger signs, traffic signals are in red.


Yellow: Being the colour of sunshine, yellow puts a smile on the dial. The most visible colour from a distance, it communicates cheerfulness, friendliness, energy, reflects joy, optimism, confidence, happiness and creativity. However, at the same time, yellow is the colour of caution and associates with fear, depression and anxiety. Yellow also arouses hunger and hence most of the fast food and ready to eat products are packed in yellow.


Brown: Brown is seen as a serious and very down to earth, warm, with properties like stability, structure, support and sophistication. It is among the oldest colours and is associated with wholesome, natural and organic produce and anything related to the great outdoors, agriculture and farming. Hence, most organic products use brown in their packaging.


Black: The colour black relates to hidden, secretive, unknown, and as a result it creates an air of mystery. It is associated with elegance, glamour, luxury, power, exclusivity. Black is bold, classic and to be taken seriously. Black on the other hand also has a negative side to it like evil, oppression, grief, and insecurity.


White: White represents purity, simplicity, hygiene, innocence, clarity, transparency. It is known to be the colour of perfection. If we had to identify one brand that has uses white to convey its brand message to perfection it would have to be Apple, white represents the simplicity of the products in both their form and function. White can also be associated with emptiness, coldness, unfriendliness, isolation and emptiness. The colour white also depicts peace, cleanliness and calmness; thus hospitals are generally painted in white.


Blue: Blue is a universally preferred colour, having versatile qualities. Blue is widely used and appreciated for its calmness and serenity. Brands using the colour blue in logos give a sense of reliability, trustworthiness and authority. Thus brands like Dell, Intel, Facebook, Twitter, Samsung have their logos in blue. However, being associated with feelings, also expresses sadness or depression.


Green: Green has two very common meanings - one being nature and environment, and the other being finance and wealth. It signifies harmony, balance, freshness, awareness, growth, restoration, and stability. Though, it can also be significant to boredom, blandness. Green representing nature is also considered to be beneficial for Mind and Body and is also said to have amazing healing powers.


Violet: In ancient times, violet was termed as ‘the colour of atmosphere’. It is known to be a soft colour with calming effects that convey creativity and wisdom. Violet is also associated with spiritual awareness, vision, luxury, truth, and quality. Violet also has negative associations like introversion, suppression, and inferiority. 


Colours and Brand Identity:

Colours are known to have effects on a person’s psychological, physiological and sociological behaviour. Thus, colour is an important aspect while considering the Brand Identity System. As every colour has a unique identity, it is important for brands to select the right colour. Using colours that go with your brand personality and consistently using brand colours, has been proven advantages and create a stronger Brand Identity and has higher brand recall. Few examples are Coca-Cola is known for its bright red labelling on bottles; Dairy milk uses their patent violet for all its chocolates, Christian Louboutin is known or its red bottom pumps and Barbie uses the typical pink for all its packaging. Colours are thus an important element in a brand’s visual identity and needs to be based on logic, meaning and purpose.

Article contributed by:

Riya Wadhwa, Brand Artisan - Marketing