Your choice of colour matters

1980s colour based stay at home playlist

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Snapshot : The use of colour runs through many parts of marketing but it’s often forgotten. As we update our guide to the use of colour in marketing, we share some specific thoughts about where colour plays a role. As well as some of our dodgier taste in 1980s music.

Colour is one of those areas of marketing that’s often forgotten. Unless you work in design or printing, you probably barely give it a second thought most days. But as we’ve just added a major update to our guide to colour in marketing, it’s been very top of mind for us this week. Your choice of colour has major implications on your brand identity, your packaging, your advertising and your website. To name just a few key areas where it makes an impact. But how often do you even think about it?

We were prompted to this thought by a great article on colour we saw as part of our research earlier in the year. It set out to define decades by colour. And it’s weird thing, when you can just look at a set of coloured boxes. And say, oh yeah, that’s the 1980s. Because when you look at some of the colours as we did, you just “know” which decade they are from. 

Lockdown playlist social media fun

At the time, we had some fun with it posting a bunch of social media posts. We put our top 10 tunes, based on the decade and the colour choice. But tunes that had a specific resonance to being in lockdown. 

In this example, we used the colours Natural and Harvest Gold (Hex references #c9a87d and #f7a141). These colours are very resonant of that dusty, beach, California free love vibe. If you’ve seen Tarantino’s latest Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, it’s full of this sort of colour palette. 

But compare that to the eye-watering Pacman and Powersuit (Hex references#c8ff00 and #ff00ff) from the 1980s playlist at the top of the page. Those connotations are aerobic leotards and leg warmers, and vibrant music videos on MTV. Very different, huh?

What colour means for marketing

As we outline in our newly updated guide, yes, we probably mentioned that already. there is a whole bunch of learning that comes with the use of colour in marketing. 

At the most basic level, there’s the different ways to describe colours based on the colour wheel.


Colour wheel with primary, secondary and tertiary (hue) colours

Then, there’s the different ways colours can be described. And the FIVE, yes FIVE different colour systems you can choose from – RGB, Hex, HSB, CMYK and Pantone. And it struck us that though we’ve used all these systems in the past, we couldn’t think of a single past employer or client who ever spends any time really understanding these things. 

It’s almost like the understanding of colour has to be picked up by some sort of osmosis. Where you learn by doing that RGB is for screens. Hex is for Websites. And CMYK is for printing. Except of course, when you need to also check Pantones. 

Colour psychology

And we do think, there’s a big missing gap when it comes to your choice of colour in marketing.

Because, there’s a lot of great information out there about the psychological impact of colour. But we reckon most marketers have little to no idea about this. They rely on designers and agencies to advise them. And it’s a missed trick. Because really the way people connect with colours is a potential insight to drive growth. 

Colour psychology - an applied use of colour in marketing

So for example, we’re thinking of three brands we know well. If we just describe them, without giving you the brand name, see if you can pick up what colour you think the packaging would be. 

Answers at the end of the article.

Brand A

So Brand A is a brand that plays in the world of healthy nutrition. It has strong claimed health benefits. It spends a lot of time with healthcare professionals to build up scientific research to back up these health claims. This clinical, scientific approach comes through in it’s packaging, website and promotional materials. It’s target audience like it because it gives them confidence that it know’s what it is doing. 

Brand B

Brand B is an alcohol brand that’s mostly drunk in cocktails on fun nights out. It’s energetic and vibrant. It has roots that pull together its funky product origins, it’s stimulating product ingredients and a history of big night out advertising. You’d expect to see groups of younger drinkers necking this brand after midnight in a darkened nightclub. It’s all about a big night out.

Brand C

Brand C is in the snack business, and it’s main product is luxurious and indulgent. It leads the way in it’s market, and is see as the “go to” brand in it’s category. It’s mainly consumed later in the day as an indulgent treat. The brand frequently launches new flavour extensions based on the latest food trends. 

Spend some time thinking about your choice of colour

Marketing is challenging enough already. So a good knowledge of how and where to use colour can take your whole game up a level. 

If your product is in the supermarket, as we point out in our guide to packaging development, colour is one of the key ways you can make your brand stand out from the 40,000 other products that you’ll find in there. 

As we cover in our guides to advertising and media, repetition driven by frequency is a key part of building awareness and recognition of your brand. And when you can consistently use colour in your advertising, it helps strengthen the mental connection and therefore raises the chances that your advertising will actually be remembered. 

And if website design is your thing, then a consistent use of colour is a critical part of the user experience, so much so that has an entire guide on how to use colour to improve the user experience.

Your choice of colour matters

So, we hope our little push to learn more about why your choice of colour matters hasn’t made you blue. And that when you read this guide it made you think about how often or how little you actually think about colour.

And talking of read, or red, even, that’s probably our hue, sorry cue to close this post off. 

And head off for a nice glass of red, red wine (as the 1980s is our favourite music playlist at the moment).  


Brand A – BLUE.

Brand B – ORANGE.


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