Design: Is colour really that important?

In an everyday life how many times do we think about colour in relation to design? Probably a lot more than you think. Even if you are not thinking about design for marketing you think about colour when you buy clothes; decorate your house, shop or office; change your hair and you might even be lucky enough to think about colour when you buy a car. But what do you think?

In simple terms you associate the colour with others things - that's how we get 'grass green', 'sky blue', 'steel grey', 'cream', 'aquamarine' and 'ivory white'. The colours are all associated to other things. So it is true to say they can drive emotions - what colour is anger? What colour is calm? Peace? Exciting? Reliable? For most people those colours would probably be red, blue, green, orange (or magenta) and muted versions of any colour - maroon, grey and the darker blues.

As time goes on, trends changes, colours that appear striking to one generation may not follow through to the next. Everything moves with the times, especially colour.

So if you are about to launch a new business or revitalise an existing one then think about the greater benefits that colour might bring. Professionally designed branding doesn't happen by accident - and thankfully it's a long time since a clip art image gave rise to logo. These days it is all about careful and thought out choice, creating something from the start to fulfill a role, to give a vision of what the core values of the business are all about. The colour choice should enhance the associated feelings that the potential customer immediately relates to.

Are you trying to wake your customer up?

Are you trying to soothe them into a position of having confidence in you?

Are you trying to excite them?

Are you instilling a feeling of safety?

There's more to it than settling for a colour you like. The thing that most people get wrong is that the way marketing works is that the imagery is supposed to attract the required audience to contact you. It is far more about them than you. It would be the same as thinking that the most important thing about your company is you, so put your business name at the top of a promotion. Wrong! In reality the most important thing about your company is attracting, fulfilling and keeping customers. The headline should very rarely be your name but in that case what should it be? Easy! The benefit, the offer, the 'what's in it for me?' that will stop your potential customers and encourage them to read on. It's rare for people to actually be interested in you, customers are more interested in themselves and what they can get out of you. It might be you're selling on price; quality; quantity; size; variety; range; variation or even good ol' traditional service - but where is any of that applicable to you - it is all about them.

So, make the colour about them too. What would help you attract the right sort of customer for your revenue?

Here's a few examples of howand why colour works for a selection of businesses:

ColyerCounsellingbrandingColyer Counselling. A logo that is simple to read, the message is clear and the colours designed to create calm, confident and an experienced service provider. A professional you can go to who will keep your secrets but help you with your problems.

ETLingoET Lingo. Bright bold yellow to attract attention but graduated to help show a gentleness and an apathy towards assisting in a subject that can be difficult - translation.

Homes Styled. Bold use of colour for a home stylist dealing in every colour imaginable to style your home the way you want it. The typeface and arrangement a bold red to show this interior designer is prepared to be bold when required.

Maidstone Day Centre. A particularly delicate subject (clients are vulnerable and homeless people - some needing urgent and professional help quickly) so an established regal purple with a classic typeface to promote order and protection with confidence.

BrandingRoyal London Society. A very bold move on behalf of the client with this bright green to promote a 21st Century feel to the operation.

ASK Customer Capture.Electric blue as messaging wires going into space, bringing colour and visual together for a dramatic visual behind a strong choice of typeface. Exciting, vibrant, up to the minute with technology.


Feng Shui Restaurant. Chinese restaurant with strong Chinese Red to set off yellow hand sketched lettering for exciting flavoursome food with some differences.

S90 Solutions. Chaos management with an eye for detail as well as an overaching view of the problem Professionals with a list of successful achievements behind them. Colour to suggest strength, order with a smooth unruffled tyestyle.

If you would like a report on your existing logo sent it to Alan and he'll supply a list of strengths (and maybe weaknesses) and helpful advice.


Alan Reading runs Custom Marketing Resources providing a full range of marketing services (and especially creates branding) to clients of all types and sizes. He's good with customer care too so if you know nothing about websites, branding or marketing yourself you no need worry! Free advice on 01622 820841 or

Alan Reading is an award winning designer, has judged more than his fair share of design awards, hosted breakfasts, lunches, dinners, dinner dances, balls and networking events, compéred fashion shows, radio programmes and appeared on TV more than once, frequently on behalf of clients. He has presented for Business Link, Enterprise Agencies, Chambers of Commerce, conferences and seminars for The Newspaper Society, the Association of Free Newspapers, The British Hardware Federation, training and marketing companies on starting, promoting and marketing business.

Alan is a business minded Designer (past President - and Chairman - of 3 Chambers in Kent) running his own business - Custom Marketing Resources (01622 820841) - since 1994. Alan has formed The Lenham Valley Business Association where he organises and presents the monthly network meetings. He is also chair of the organising committee. LVBA has a 40+ page website and a 64 page business directory. South Maidstone Business Association has been running for a while now too - see www.maidstonebusiness He is currently turning Marketing Maidstone into The Maidstone Tourism association with Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, Maidstone Borough Council and Maidstone Town Centre Management.

You will learn even more about him - and see what his customers say - on his website He is willing to provide free advice by phone too - even about websites.

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Links to further reading about design from this article: