The Power of Colour in Brand Design

Today it’s more critical than ever for businesses to differentiate themselves from their competitors and make memorable connections with their audience by creating unique, instantly recognisable brands.

Colour in Brand Design
Every touch point of a brand plays a vital role in brand recall, but the brand mark is the heart and soul of a brand’s image. Whilst it’s the interplay between colour, typeface, and symbol that creates a brand mark, colour is registered by the brain before either images or typography. A University of Loyola, Maryland study recently found the correct use of colour could increase brand recognition by up to 80%.


Standing out from the crowd
As awareness of branding grows and more businesses invest in their brand’s identity, colour is becoming more important for companies looking to differentiate themselves visually. Consider the success of Heinz Green ketchup. In the first seven months following its introduction more than 10 million bottles were sold. The result was the highest sales increase in the brand’s history, all because of a simple color change. Apple introduced colourful iMacs into a marketplace where colour had not been seen before. The Apple brand was the first to say, “It doesn’t have to be beige”. The iMacs reinvigorated a brand that had suffered $1.8 billion of losses in two years.

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A World of Colour
Colour also provides communication cues for brand attributes such as traditional or cutting edge, calm or excited, as well as cultural cues, cues about environmental credibility, cues about political affiliations and a plethora of other meanings. In the world of brand design, choice and use of colour provides the potential for a wealth of carefully crafted and powerfully communicated messages about your brand.

Recognisable Brands Test
Most of the most recognisable brands in the world rely on colour as a key factor in their instant recognition. Below are snapshots of twenty of the world’s most recognisable brand marks cropped to show a clear representation of their brand colours, but only a fraction of their logotype of symbol. Test yourself to see how many of the brands you can identify with colour being the primary visual driver.


The answers
01. Heineken
02. adidas
03. Toyota
04. British Airways
05. BP
06. Google
07. BMW
08. Vodafone
09. Ford
10. McDonald’s
11. Coca Cola
12. Olympic Games
13. Microsoft
14. IBM
15. Nike
16. Pepsi
17. GE
18. Qantas
19. Nokia
20. Virgin

So how’d you go?
18 or more correct: You’re brand obsessed (you’d fit in well around here)
15-17 correct: You’re pretty brand aware (and probably addicted to TV)
10-14 correct: Observation skills are not your strength – likely to leave home wearing different coloured socks
9 or less correct: You’re suffering brand avoidance – might be worth getting checked-out for colour blindness

If you’d like to talk to some people who spend way too much of their life eating, sleeping, thinking about the role of colour in developing a highly recognisable and unforgettable brand identity give us a call.

Cassandra Gill, Design Director.

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  1. Magnefire Studios

    We have this discussion with clients all the time. Many business owner’s who are hesitant to completely rebrand or refresh their image change the brand’s palette and in effect destroy any recognition they had left. -Great article! We’ll be sure to refer many folks to this article.

    • Matt, we always love connecting with equally passionate designers of brands. Sounds like we’re kindred spirits when it comes to our experiences with clients taking short cuts with their brand image and inadvertently eroding what equity they’ve built over time.

  2. I thought it was a very clever idea on how to know if people are good at there brands when only seeing colour, but I would like to see it in black and white instead of colour, so I would know if colour helps.

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