So today is Blue Monday, officially the most depressing day of the year.

The festivities are a distant memory, the shine has worn off of our New Year’s resolutions, and it feels a long time until pay day. It’s no wonder that we feel blue.

But what do we mean by ‘blue’? Why would we use a colour to represent our feelings, emotions and level of motivation? And why would we pick a colour that can have many happy associations (like a bright blue sky, or a sparkling blue sea) to represent sadness?

Colour as shorthand

We use colour as a psychological shorthand for a lot of things in daily life – paint manufacturers go to great lengths to tell us what particular shades represent and how they will make us feel; TV and cinema use colour to distinguish between opposing characters (have you ever noticed that the hero usually rides a white horse, and the villain a black one?), and brands use colour to stand out from the crowd and represent their company values.

Marketing and branding have a lot to answer for when it comes to our perception of colours, and what they mean.  We associate red with Father Christmas (instead of St Nick’s traditional green), because of the Coca Cola advert; rural and agricultural businesses tend to use a lot of (grass) green and (sunshine) yellow in their branding; fast food chains use red to evoke hunger and urgency; whilst bottled water companies use blue to represent purity and clarity, and luxury brands feature a lot of purple and gold.

When it comes to branding, the colours used can be just as important and impactful as the words or graphics themselves. A heating company logo that makes you feel cold or an organic food supplier that uses brand colours not found in nature are unlikely to inspire consumer trust and confidence.

What colour is your business?

Choosing your brand colours can be a bit of a minefield – even when you have narrowed down to a colour group, there are so many different shades to choose from.

My advice is to consider two things:

  • What do you want your colour palette to say about your products and services?
  • Who are you trying to appeal to?

Whether you are rebranding or starting from scratch, begin by defining your brand values, business offering and ideal customer, and take it from there. That will help you to not get distracted by pretty colours that perhaps don’t fit with your ethos or offering, and remain focussed on choosing a brand colour palette that says exactly what you need it to say.

The colours that you choose don’t need to be obvious or prescribed by your competitors, but whatever your colour palette, make sure that it accurately represents your business and how you want people to feel about it. If your branding reflects your business offering and provokes the right emotional response, chances are you are on to a winner!

If you’re not sure where to start, get in touch and let’s chat. In the meantime, take care and stay colourful,