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Colors and brands

What do you make of a soldier waving a white flag? Will you feel comfortable with a priest who wears a pink frock? Why do expectant parents shop for items in colour blue if they are expecting a male? Have you ever seen an angel painted black? What ethnic nation in Nigeria comes to mind when you see a black and white stripe cloth material?

These are many questions whose answers demonstrate that different colours evoke a variety of meanings, emotions and moods in different individuals and societies.  Similar colours symbolize completely different meanings in different societies; in China, red implies good luck and is used for weddings. In Russia, red means beautiful.


Like an individual, a brand also has a personality that defines what it stands for. Among the many variables that define a brand, colour stands out. The colour of a brand should be the visual representation of its inners value. United Bank for Africa (UBA) has its logo in dominant red for a reason; so too does Glo with its green colour. It is important to understand what different colours represent before using them as a marker for your brand.

Here is what Bill Weger, a branding consultant with Image One PR, makes of colours and their meanings in contemporary society

by Bill Weger (additional information included)
But what do colors mean? The emotions and moods evoked by colours depend on past experiences, nationality, and personal preferences. However, studies indicate that specific colours and their combinations have a psychological effect on the majority of people. So whether you are creating a website, buying a car, choosing a new wardrobe, or decorating a room, your colour selection will have a powerful impact. Here are several popular colours, their meaning, and common uses today.

The Passion of Red
Red is the most emotionally intense colour that stimulates a faster heartbeat and breathing. Of course, it’s also the colour of blood, passion, and love. Red conveys energy, action, and power, but it can appear confrontational and intimidating. Red cars are very popular targets for theives. Because of its visibility, red is used for stop signs, lights, and fire trucks. Apples, tomatoes, and cherries are red. Red is an attention getter and is often used by decorators as an accent. Restaurants often use red as a decorating color to stimulate appetitie. Entirely red rooms, however, can make people anxious.

Red is the colour used by some of the world’s most renowed organizations, companies, and brands, including Coca Cola, Toyota, the American Red Cross, and the Chicago Bulls. In China, red implies good luck and is used for weddings. In Russia, red means beautiful.

The Power of Yellow
Yellow is a primary colour that is very powerful and can be eye-fatiguing. It has many shades. It speeds metabolism and causes eye irritation, but it also makes a great highlighter if used sparingly. Yellow rooms make babies cry. People lose their tempers more often in yellow rooms. Lemons, school buses, and the sun are yellow. Yellow means proceed with caution. Yellow is a colour used by McDonald’s, MTN and Shell Oil. In Burma and Egypt, yellow is a colour of mourning.

The Attraction of Orange
Orange is another color that attracts attention. It is associated with warmth, cheerfulness, and friendliness. Like red, orange is an excellent appetite stimulant. Pumpkins and carrots are orange. It is the colour used by GTBank, Home Depot, and MasterCard

The Popularity of Blue
Blue is the most popular colour and is easy on the eyes. Blue signifies tranquility, harmony, patience, and understanding. Its potential negative qualities are passiveness, coldness, and depression. Blue is also a natural appetite suppressant and is generally not a good choice for restaurant decor. Blue relaxes people.

Wearing blue to an interview indicates loyalty. Studies show that students and weight lifters perform better in blue rooms. The sky and the ocean are blue. It’s the colour used by many corporations, including Oceanic Bank, JetBlue Airways, Exxon, Ford, and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

The Freshness of Green
Green has many symbiotic meanings - the most common is nature. Green in the United States is the colour of money. Green signifies good health, life, youth, freshness, and vigor. Green means go. However, green can also reflect envy and greed. Green is the easiest colour on the eyes and can help improve vision.

Like blue, green has a calming effect on the nervous system. It is a popular colour in hospitals and waiting rooms because it relaxes people. Green is used by John Deere, BP Oil, Glo. Green is the national colour of Ireland and Libya under Late Mummar Ghaddafi. It is even alleged that the Nigerian National Football Team the Super Eagles do better when thay wear a green variant of their jersey.
The Style of Black
Black is a color of authority. It speaks with power, style, and sophistication. It may also symbolize evil, death, and mourning. Priests wear black because it signifies submission to God. Black is popular in fashion because it makes people look thinner.

The Reliability of Brown
Brown is solid and reliable. It’s the color of earth and wood. It creates an open and neutral environment. It projects credibility, strength, and maturity. Brown is the corporate color for United Parcel Service (UPS). “What Can Brown Do for You?” Men favor brown.

The Creativity of Purple
Purple is the color for royalties and often represents wealth and passion. Purple is artistic, feminine, and romantic. Purple stimulates creativity. Cleopatra, the Egyptian queen, loved purple. And don’t forget Chimamanda’s Purple Hibiscus.

The Many Uses of White
White reflects light and is an excellent base color. Brides wear white. So do doctors and nurses to imply sterility. White symbolizes innocence and purity. But it also shows dirt and is harder to keep clean. A white dove conveys peace and a white flag is the universal symbol for truce. White means morning in China and Japan.

Chris Tion (arpa,anipr), a professional Advertising and Public Relations practitioner, is the Managing Partner at an independent Brand  Agency, in Abuja. Follow him and BohoMedia on twitter: @xristion and @bohomedia. You can also reach him on 08033457453 and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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