A guide to
colour selection in your business
back to Sign Talk
research offers some interesting insights into your
Colour is part of our lives. It's important to use
colour effectively and to know how to use it in your
marketing, merchandising and promotion.
It is essential to choose colours that correctly reflect
the type of business you are in. You also need to think
carefully about the affect these colours are going to
have on your customers - existing and potential.
According to a report compiled by a Results Report
subscriber, John Miner, every colour except Neutral Grey
has an effect on your customer. They react to some
colours in a positive way and to others in a negative
But they will rarely act indifferently.
And, interestingly, people react in a predictable way.
For example, red will always stimulate your appetite
whilst blue will have the opposite effect.
Can you use colour to determine outcome?
Well, it would be naive to think that major corporations
that spend millions of dollars on advertising, promotion
and marketing just pick their corporate colour schemes
at random or because they "like the colours".
It's no coincidence that most of the major fast food
franchises use basically the same colour schemes - red,
white, yellow or orange. They know what colours will
sell more food and what colours to avoid.
According to Mr. Miner's research report, here's how the
combination of those colours works together.
Red is an appetite stimulant. For thousands of years it
has been the primary colour relating to basic survival
needs - food, clothing, shelter. It shows a strong image
and counteracts fatigue.
White's great as a back- ground, making other colours
stronger and more intense. It gives an image of
cleanliness and sterile conditions.
Orange is similar to red in that it is an appetite
stimulant. It is best used inside as it causes agitation
and excitement in many people, causing them to eat and
run - which is what most restaurateurs want.
Yellow is one of the most over-used and abused colours.
Many people use it the wrong way and do more harm than
good. It attracts the eye and (in small doses)
stimulates the nerves.
The use of bright yellow over large areas will increase
anxiety levels within 45 seconds and will increase your
blood pressure nearly as fast. It's best used as a
complementary colour over small areas causing people to
make a spontaneous decision and to buy on impulse.
Colours can make or break your business.
Say you're in a business that manufactures chocolates,
sweets or any eats with a sweet taste . . . You should
ideally have blue or mauve somewhere on the packet, as
psychologically blue is the colour of sweetness.
You should use green sparingly on packaging or in
advertising because the mind perceives green as an
But it's not only the colour that you should be
interested in. A West German test showed that the most
important factor in choosing a colour is the saturation
or intensity of the colour.
Colours in the workplace.
Here's an interesting story about how colours affect the
"The production in a factory increased 8% literally
overnight, just by repainting the men's toilet walls a
ghastly electric green which had the effect of
Here are some ideas on colours to use in particular
places . . .
Soothing neutral colours are suitable for hospitals,
classrooms or areas which are occupied for long periods
Warm colours are suitable for restaurants and
Cold colours are suitable for lecture rooms, assembly
halls and large communal spaces.
Vivid colours are suitable for corridors and stairwells
where you want to stimulate people to keep moving.
And, if you have problems with lighting, white used in a
dull room can increase light levels by one third.
Colours and customer perception.
How do your customers and prospective customers perceive
your business and your products?
The correct use of colour can be critical in creating
that perception. As we said, the psychological effect of
colour is tremendously powerful and should not be
Dr. Max Lusher, a German Professor of Psychology, is
recognised as the father of Colour Psychology. He
developed a colour test that has been used for more
than 20 years with outstanding success.
Today, using Dr. Lusher's colours and the results of
other research, choosing the right colours for any
application with great accuracy is made easy.
Much of Lusher's research confirmed that using the right
colours on packaging can have a hypnotic effect on the
In 1979 a company that fills aerosol cans for other
companies conducted a survey to determine what colours
the spray cans should be to "sell" a particular product.
The test showed that:
Browns are good for wax or polish for wooden furniture.
Yellow cans are good for general cleaning and polishing
Red cans are good for fly or insect sprays.
White cans are good for products that make ironing
Orange cans are good for oven cleaning products.
Green cans are good for fresh air products or products
to do with personal hygiene.
Above all, the results showed that colour does sell, as
was proved by a cleaning cloth manufacturer who
changed the colour of the packet from light blue and
white to a darker blue and added red and yellow. Sales
increased by 23%
So what colour sells best?
Here's an outline of what colours to use to create a
specific image. . .
imaging. For sports or exercise clubs, dining or dancing
services, political clubs and organisations or real
Feminine or loving images. For fashion, cosmetics,
rescuing services, church clubs and infant services or
Gratification of the senses. For the entertainment
industry, videos, cars, furnishings, art services,
gambling and beverages.
High energy images. For architecture, building tools and
services and speedy services or products.
Charitable imaging. For services/products for children,
school products, welfare organisations or charities.
Communication. For Yellow Pages, all services or
productions of the communication and entertainment
industries, especially sales.
Health, plant and vegetable imaging. For health food
stores, homey restaurants, floral products or services
and personal hygiene.
LIGHT BLUE -
Creative images. For the design or art industry,
creative products or problem solving services and
computer products or servicing.
DARK BLUE -
Executive imaging. For business, education, executive
products and imaging, financial services, businesses
pertaining to large investments requiring trust - for
example, car sales.
Spiritual or intuitive imaging. Training or services for
emotional support and sensitive imaging to the needs.
Support products and services. For businesses offering
security, basic needs, coffee or chocolate goods, earthy
or natural products.
GREY - Passive or earth support images. For home
repair services or products and stone and earth products
but not to image any service relating to human
Authority imaging. For security and protection services,
sedate and aloof imaging, or as a symbol of taste and
luxury when combined with gold, silver and some shades
of grey of "suave white".
WHITE - Individualistic and sanitary images. For
products rather than services as white gives an image of
wealth and security. For brokers, bankers, merchants and
high quality services and personal development services.
Interesting isn't it!