A rose by any other name may smell as sweet. But would a red rose be just as appealing in brown? Or green? Or grey?

Colour changes the way we see things because it affects how we feel about them. Consider how many of our daily idioms draw on the relationship between colour and emotion: feeling blue, seeing red, green with envy, white with fear.  The link between colour and emotions is so embedded in us as humans that colour itself acts as a subliminal language.

Colour psychology

Over the years many researchers have investigated the relationship between colour and emotions in the field of ‘colour psychology’. Their research has then be used to investigate how the use of colour influences behaviour. The impact of different colours is always going to be subjective. Why? Because people perceive colour in different ways depending on their own biology, their age, gender and cultural background. But there is sufficient consistent evidence to make some broad generalisations, at least.


Researchers have found many different ways to arrive at lists of emotional descriptions for colours. These include exposing subjects to a range of colours and asking them to put words to them, such as ‘happy’, ‘reliable’ or ‘luxurious’. Another method involves giving the subjects descriptors (such as ‘trust’, ‘courage’ and ‘cheap’) and asking them to select a colour that matches it. When the same links are made by many people – associating ‘red’ with ‘passion’, ‘power’ and ‘energy’, for example – those descriptors are listed on the emotional guidelines for that colour.

How to choose the right colour for your marketing

Such emotional guidelines have promising implications for those involved in marketing. According to recent research by colour consultancy Colorcom, consumers make a subconscious judgement about a person, environment or product within 90 seconds and between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on colour alone. Added to this, brand recognition (they say) can be increased by 80% by effective use of colour throughout the design.

If you are a company with products or services to promote, choosing the right combination of colours for your brand is critical to its success. Which means it is important to work with people who understand colour from the start.

As designers, colours are the tools of our trade – and we have an infinite number to choose from. There are a set number of ‘hues’ on the spectrum, ranging from red to violet. But sub-divide these into variations by tint, shade, tone, intensity and brightness and you have every colour under the sun. When you add to this that colour ‘speaks’ to people at a sub-conscious level, knowing how to pick the right colours and make them work in harmony for your business involves as much science as it does art.

Where does colour feature in the branding process?

At Valiant, we start any branding work by helping our clients to define and articulate their brand values, positioning and target audience. Only after learning this do we start the design process including  the selection of a palette of colours to match it. During this process we will take into consideration any existing preferences, the target audience and the mood or message that the client wants to convey. At the heart of any branding there is usually a core colour that is most dominant and acts as a foundation for the rest of the branding, with other colours complementing and reinforcing the overall impact. Once finalised, the brand colours and any associated imagery will be applied consistently across all aspects of the company – products, website, signage and marketing materials – to establish the brand identity.

To summarise, choosing the right colours for your business involves a significant amount of strategic marketing and creative judgement. Valiant has plenty of both. So if you would like to establish or re-energise your corporate branding, we would love to hear from you – 01252 783106 or info@valiantdesign.co.uk