In the two previous articles on this subject we have looked at the place typography and photo imagery play in sculpting the voice of a brand. In this article we continue that discussion and look at the importance of colour.


A couple of easy questions: What colour is Tiffany’s? What colour is the Cadbury chocolate wrapper?

These two companies have reached the pinnacle of branding: having a colour associated with their brands. Technically they can’t trademark the blanket use of these colours, except within their respective markets, so anyone else (in other product categories) can use Tiffany Turquoise or Cadbury Purple. But having this top line recognition is a great help with brand awareness and making your communication more direct.
Other brands have worked hard at making this leap to branding nirvana as well – McDonalds, Toyota and Mattel (here I’m thinking of Barbie pink). I once had a client say to me that I couldn’t use yellow in a food packaging project – guess he hadn’t heard of Maccas!
When we are creating a colour palette for a new brand, we don’t just look at the colours we like – or you like. We think about the colours of your competitors and look for colours that will help you stand out from the crowd and help your brand recognition.
It is often helpful to create a suite of colours that work well with the logo, in isolation or as a group, particularly if there are sub-branches of the company and colour can be used to differentiate them.
Colours can have many meanings; blue for trust, green for health, purple for creativity etc. and they can also mean different things in different cultures.
When working on the Sunshine Coast Council branding project we wanted to find colours that represented the diverse nature of the area we live in. The logo device itself is made from a graduation of colour that, we thought, captured the colours of the ocean and hinterland.
Just after the brand had been delivered, there was a Council trade mission to China, taking many of the first samples we had printed. They reported back that the brand had been very well-received and particularly the use of the Chinese “qing” colour – which, depending on your source, is a blue/green/grey colour found in the logo and supporting colour palette. So it was that, although not designed with this intent, the colour had resonance in this far, and financially important, culture.

So what is a brand?

In this article and the previous two, we’ve looked at the importance of typography, photo imagery and colour in creating the overall brand essence or brand personality.
Ultimately, I like to think of a brand as a beautifully wrapped present that we deliver to the consumer on behalf of our client.
There’s the colour of the wrapping (the colour palette), perhaps there’s ribbon or decoration to enhance the delivery (like a photo or image) and there’s a written card which (just like typography and a logo) tells them who its from and how we feel about them.
And hopefully this delivery method will create, in the recipient, a desire to know more about this brand, to find out what’s inside and what it could mean to them.
Andy Engel
Head of Creative