21 outstanding uses of colour in branding

Blue

Blue is a cool, clear colour which has a trustworthy, dependable feel, and is often the colour of choice for financial institutions as a result – notably Barclays.

13. NHS

Britain's National Health Service uses a dependable blue to enagage its users

In the UK, the National Health Service uses a distinctive shade of blue that takes advantage of its cool, reassuring and secure characteristics.

14. Tiffany & Co

Tiffany has trademarked its own shade of 'robin's egg' blue

Like red, of course, blue is used so broadly in different kinds of branding that standout in a particular sector is difficult: Tiffany's solves this problem with its own iconic shade of 'robin's egg' blue, trademarked as Tiffany Blue and ubiquitous on everything from jewellery boxes to shopping bags to advertising.

15. Facebook

The logo's changed over the years but Facebook retains its blue colouring

Originally designed by Cuban Council in 2006, the Facebook logo has been tweaked over the years – most recently in 2013 when it pulled the 'f' down to the edge of the box, and lost the pale blue line running beneath it – but has retained its blue colour, which Mark Zuckerberg originally chose based on his colour blindness.

Purple

Pale lavender has a nostalgic, sentimental feel, whereas richer, darker purple has a sophisticated tone often linked with royalty.

16. Cadbury's

Cadbury's has made Pantone 2685C inseperable from its branding

Purple's the most recognisable association is with Cadbury's chocolate: Pantone 2685C is officially Cadbury Purple.

Purple and Cadbury's have been happy bedfellows since 1914, and woe betide any brand who tries to lay claim to it: Nestlé tried and failed last year, and Cadbury's won the right to exclusive use for chocolate bar and drink packaging. The association is so deeply ingrained that its advertising can be confident enough to remove mention of the brand altogether, as in Fallon's Black Pencil-winning Gorilla spot.

Brown

Earthy, simple and evocative of honesty and simplicity, brown (as well as green) is often used by organic companies to emphasise their links to the soil – although outside of this sector its largely avoided in a branding context due to potential negative connotations with 'dirt', although this of course depends on the shade chosen. The fact that brown hides dirt can be twisted to a company's advantage – one reason for Pullman railway coaches to have developed their distinctive shade.

17. UPS

UPS uses brown to evoke feelings of simplicity and honesty

And it was Pullman Brown that the United States Postal Service plumped for in 1916, for a combination of practical reasons and the fact that the colour was perceived as the "epitome of luxury" at the time. It would become an inseparable part of UPS' branding, even becoming shorthand for the company itself, as in its former slogan: 'What can Brown do for you?'

The colour has become shorthand for the company itself ('What can Brown do for you?')

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