Colour psychology: Going for Gold

Posted in Branding, colour, colour - psychology, colour education, colour training, colour-psychology, Gold, Graphic design, Interior design on August 1st, 2012 by Bernay

In the recent fascinating BBC4 programme ‘A History of Art in 3 Colours’, Dr James Fox told us the story of the history of gold as used in art. Revered by ancient cultures who equated gold with the sun and magical powers, it represented eternity. With the development of Christianity gold became equated with the ‘radiance of God’ and the divine light, and all that society holds precious or sacred. For artists such as Gustav Klimt it represented love. Kings, Queens and leaders throughout history have sought to acquire and amass gold so that it has come to be more associated with power, wealth and status.

Gold = wealth, power & status?

Gold communicates that something is precious or valuable, whilst radiating the positive and optimistic qualities of yellow. Gold medals currently sought after by Olympic athletes represent attainment. In some cultures gold is associated with wisdom and experience, perhaps apt for that rare, sought after, hard won aspect in us all.







Gustav Klimt ‘The Kiss’

Similarly with print or electronic design, the careful use of gold can emphasise the precious or exceptional qualities of a product or service. Beware of over using it however, as we only have to look back to the ‘bling’ culture of the 90s to see how judicious use of gold in design came to represent all that seemed tacky and over- exaggerated!

Exceptional wealth







Other articles you might like:

‘Brit branding’ – is red, white and blue good for you?

History in colour – 1980s and 1990s trends

Jubilee inspired colour


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History in Colour – Trends

Posted in Branding, colour - psychology, colour education, colour training, colour-psychology, Graphic design, Interior design, Trends on June 11th, 2012 by Bernay

In preparation for an upcoming lecture at KLC School of Design, I’ve been taking a trip down a colourful memory lane re-visiting popular colour palettes that reflected important social changes over the last few decades.

Trend forecasters help retailers develop product ranges that tap in to key seasonal colour and design trends influenced by social and cultural directions. But, tracing colour evolution from decade to decade and observing how certain colours were inspired and reflected the ‘mood’ or climate at the time, can also provide a fascinating insight on what might be next ?

Below (and in the next couple of posts to follow) I’ve selected a couple of key influences synonymous with that era referencing similar Pantone colours, starting with the 1960s.

1960s – the decade of the ‘Hippy’ and ‘Pop Art’ as typified by artist Andy Warhol. An expansion of (drug fuelled) visual awareness inspired creativity and manifested in ‘psychedelia’ with its eye-popping, intense colours. Helpfully, developments in petro-chemicals, plastics and synthetic dye technology meant that a wider range of colours could be processed using artificial pigments.

1960s – A period of Brit Cool as the quirky, eccentric modern style of  British designers; Mary Quant, Barbara Hulanicki, Ossie Clark and Zandra Rhodes were inspired by (among other things) Art Nouveau, Middle East, Art Deco and India, influencing a more muted, warm colour palette.

(My thanks for inspiration to Pantone ‘The 20th Century in Colour‘)

You might also like to read…Jubilee Inspired Colour

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Jubilee Inspired Colour

Posted in Branding, colour, colour - psychology, colour education, colour training, colour-psychology, Graphic design, Interior design on June 6th, 2012 by Bernay

There is no doubt that 2012 is officially the year in which the UK is officially ‘trending’. Following on from last years’ Royal Wedding, we have just enjoyed the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and are preparing ourselves to host the Olympics. The colours red, white and blue have manifested themselves across all manner of product design and memorabilia.

Pantone’s Diamond Jubilee Guide

However, it’s not just the colours of our national flag that have been trending for a while now, but attention has turned towards the personal colour palette of the Queen herself. Whilst Pantone and London advertising agency Leo Burnett have launched a limited edition Diamond Jubilee colour guide commemorating some of the Queen’s most memorable fashion colour choices, D.I.Y store and paint retailer Homebase have identified several paint colours inspired by the Queen’s colour choices that have been “flying off the store’s shelves”.

All these colours share common characteristics in that they are soft, light, blueish tones. These are typical colours we describe as being a ‘summer’ palette, their slightly ‘bleached’ out delicacy mirrors many of the colours we see around us in the natural world at this time of year. A summer personality is described as calm, balanced and understated. Classic, they appreciate quality and good design.

The colours blue and pink appear to dominate the Queen’s palette and the palette as a whole expresses her personality. Whilst blue can appear quite authoritative, softer hues can be soothing and inspire trust. Soft and approachable, a summer pink, (the ultimate feminine colour!) expresses the part of one’s personality that is nurturing and empathetic.

This palette of colours work well for a sophisticated, perhaps classically inspired interior. Softer blue can be mentally calming and so useful to consider in rooms where rest or quiet contemplation is required. Pink is physically soothing, and worth considering for bedrooms and bathrooms .

Other colours from the Homebase range that work well with this palette are: Meadow, Sky, Summer jasmine, Oyster, Mocha, Pebble, Dove grey and Putty.

Find out more about colour and your personality at in:colour’s ‘Exploring Colour in Your World’ workshop Saturday 21st July 2012! Click here for details!

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3 Quick tips for using colour in branding

Posted in Branding, colour, colour - psychology, colour education, colour training, colour-psychology, Graphic design, Interior design on May 23rd, 2012 by Bernay

Research in to the relationship between marketing and colour has found that colour increases brand recognition by up to 80% and that more than 50% of the decision to purchase a product is based on colour. (Secretariat of the Seoul International Color Expo).

Remember, colour is a language. Use it to communicate and get your readers attention – colour works directly on our feelings and sends messages quicker to the brain than words or shapes.

  1. Don’t confuse your customer. So often I notice that brands may keep the same design style but change the colours across different media. Using the same colours consistently in all of your communications with your customers increases recognition and builds trust.
  2. What do the brand colours tell your customer about your product? Select the 1 –3 key colours that best capture the core values of your business . These are your ‘primary’ colours. Select secondary colours to complement these colours. They may be either lighter or darker versions of your primary colours or choose colours that are the exact opposite of your primary colours which will ‘balance’ the palette.
  3. Maintain the visual harmony. Select colours that belong in the same colour family and so share the same characteristics. This will maintain the integrity of the brand and its message.

More branding related articles…

McDonald’s – Going green?

Red and the Virgin Empire

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Using Colour in Branding – Red and the Virgin Empire

Posted in Branding, colour, colour - psychology, colour and branding, colour education, colour training, Graphic design, graphic design colour on May 16th, 2012 by Bernay

Continuing the theme of ‘red’ I wanted to talk about the effect of colour in branding and design.  When we think of ‘Mega-brand’, Virgin, the colour we will associate with any of its products, is red. But how do we perceive this colour in relation to the brand – does red accurately convey the values and qualities of the Virgin ‘empire’, the third most recognised brand in the UK?

The Virgin Brand

Diverse and independent, Virgin’s businesses are licensed and branded under the Virgin group banner. The customer franchise is strong and applied to a vast range of businesses across sectors including music, finance, leisure, travel, communication and cosmetics.

Customer service oriented and fun, the Virgin ethos believes in delivering quality, innovative and value products whilst being authentic. The company values are listed as such:

  • Fun – enjoyment and humour
  • Value for money – simple not cheap
  • Quality – attention to detail, not expensive for the sake of it
  • Innovation – challenging convention, but not for the sake of being different
  • Competetive challenge – responding to consumer needs, not being irrelevant
  • Brilliant customer service – delivered by empowered, professional people

Colour cohesion is important in brand design to communicate authenticity. Research in to the relationship between marketing and colour has found that colour increases brand recognition by up to 80%. Taking a look at some of the logos for different Virgin branded products and services, it’s apparent that as much diversity exists in the colours of the different brands as in the Virgin group itself. Criticism exists that Virgin’s multi brands don’t make a comfortable fit visually or culturally. Are we becoming confused as to who Virgin are anymore?

Because overall the ‘business personality’ of Virgin would appear youth-orientated, fun, confident and with its roots based in music, communication and travel; I would be looking at hues from a light, clean, fresh palette of yellow based colours to mirror these qualities (spring).  I would choose different hues within this group to express the individual qualities of the brand products maintaining both visual and brand integrity.

While the colour red fits the bill for expressing any qualities in branding relating to action, courage, movement and energy;  the qualities of fun and value for money are best represented by the colour orange, a hue combining red and yellow linking physical colour red’s action with yellow’s confidence. Orange relates to our feelings of comfort and enjoyment. There seems to be confusion in what the Virgin red is? (Slightly orangeish Pantone Warm Red C would work best).

‘Quality’ is best represented by the colour purple, and ‘innovation’  best represented by turquoise blues. Some gravitas is required within these brands, particularly in Virgin’s finance venture – Virgin Money. We want to trust that this fun, forward thinking brand can be trusted with our money, so slightly stronger (spring) blues ought to be considered to communicate trust and efficiency!

Learn more about how colour affects branding and our daily lives in our one-day workshop – click ‘Exploring Colour in Your World’ Satuday July 21st 2012

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