The Psychology of
Colour 2.


In our previous article we looked at how red, yellow and blue was being used by companies to their advantage to build strong, effective brands that have stood the test of time.

Next, we look at the secondary colours - orange, green and purple and the context in which they have been used to build mega-successful brands.

Nothing rhymes with Orange

Orange is derived by combining red and yellow. Like yellow, it is a cheerful colour that promotes optimism and like both red and yellow, it is a very energetic colour. Depending on its shade, can be very attention grabbing so it is quite often used in advertising as well as sport team mascots and uniforms, as well as traffic cones and high visibility clothing.

Orange represents warmth, harvest and autumn in western cultures. To bring out the vibrant, fun, entertainment factor it is used by brands such as JBL, Fanta and the children’s entertainment channel Nickelodeon. And back to the subtitle, does nothing really rhyme with orange?

Green means Go!

Green is often associated with nature, freshness, youth, good luck and new growth. Did you know green is used in night vision goggles because it is the most sensitive colour to the human eye and it is able to identify most shades of it? Starbucks changed its colour palate from brown to green in 1987 to symbolise a new direction regarding growth, freshness and prosperity.

You might also have noticed (or not), the subtle but not so subtle change in McDonalds’ colour scheme. In Europe, starting in 2009, McDonald’s started to phase out the red background in its logo, replacing it with a dark green in order to promote an eco-friendlier image to keep up with the general direction of the times. Have you noticed McDonald’s new logo and what does the colour change signify for you? Do you now identify McDonald’s as a more environmentally and health conscious brand?

Purple - hate me or love me…

Around the world, purple is used to signify honour, bravery, leadership, faith and sacredness. Negatively, purple can come across as cheap and tacky but that has not stopped companies such as Milka and Cadbury, both chocolate manufactures use the colour purple in their branding but for entirely different reasons!

Milka has adopted a light, cheerful purple background to portray an honourable and trustworthy look, while Cadbury with its dark, rich purple is known for its sensual, luxurious chocolate. Cadbury even went through a long, tedious battle with Nestle (only the world’s largest food and beverage company) to maintain their right to use the colour, which just goes along to show how important colour can be to a company’s brand! Much like orange, purple tends to be a pretty overwhelming colour, so people either hate it or love it!


Remember, your brand’s colour can give you that ability to stand out! Before deciding on a colour scheme, do your research and decide whether you want to choose a colour that groups you together with your competitors, or makes you completely stand out from them.

And by the way after writing this post, word came in that orange does rhyme with something - sporange!


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