The importance of colour in brand recognition

12 February 2018

Snail driving along Brighton seafront the other day, I was faintly aware of a huge hoarding hung on the front of the Brighton Centre, muted red, almost pink with large white writing. Grinding my way past the Centre over several days, I still hadn’t noted what it was for….It was the Labour Party Conference. Where has the scarlet red gone, where has the rose and New Labour gone? 


Well I thought it was a subtle change of emphasis, encouraging inclusivity, an invitation to those not traditionally ‘red’ to look at the Party anew or afresh. Thinking this must be a media coo, I was perplexed to find that the bright red and the rose is still very much part of Labour’s identity but for several days the omission of both meant that my brain hadn’t registered this big event. One of the guiding branding mantras is continuity of type, imagery and colour. Brand recognition depends on easy recall from long term memory and colour recognition is one of the most salient aspects of an image that will trigger remembrance.

Graphic Designer browsing Pantone colour swatch book.

Responsive, dynamic and efficient


So, a rebrand of a well-known, established brand has to take care not to confuse, alienate or send mixed messages to its audience. It needs to say the product you buy, the service you have trusted is still here but better than before, more responsive, more dynamic, more efficient, more of something good, or why did you bother changing. 


The colour transformation will no doubt be accompanied by other visual element changes but the new colour transformation should link the old to the new to provide continuity of some aspects of the organisation or even for the individual.

Moonpig logo rebrand.

Moonpig have recently ditched the pig


The base colour of the brand remains the same, but since they have as an organisation diversified into new pastures, the pig had too much associative weight leveraged from their initial market of greeting cards. Dropping the pig could lose them their signature recognition for cards or the sublime pink and humpty dumpty letters may compensate the loss and take the audience with them for the new fun loving gifts they can provide now.


It’s always a gamble but how clever to keep those solid elements of identity, steaming through the winds of digital change….I’ll miss the pig though. The demise or radical change of a brand can leave the audience slightly bereft of the memories and associations they once had. I loved Golden Wonder crisps, just the packet made my mouth water and later reminded me of break times at school, a brand of the past.


A formidable tool

So there is a universal understanding that colour is a formidable communication tool, and brands, logos and websites send us explicit messages about the type of organisation they are for and the function they do and ultimately and very quickly we perceive those signals. For instance the use of green is commonly used to  portray naturalness; the environment, health and wholesome and blue for cleanliness, and all things watery. 


Of great interest is how new trends in colour start…who was the first to use Pantone colour of the year 2017 – Greenery? And who then made it so popular by following the crowd…this is trend. Who shapes the trend, does it come from fashion, a single twitter that lands and proliferates to cause everyone to use Greenery? It’s a mystery and furthermore, who started using it?


Find out how we've used colour in branding by viewing our latest case studies.

Contact Lisa to find out out how creative brand design can grow your business

Contact Spoken 01273 311592

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