8 ways the use of colour in branding is evolving

Lippincott's Brendán Murphy examines the changing role of colour in design and branding.

05. Challenge colour connotations

Many red brands worry about the negativity associated with their colour, including cultural concepts like being "in the red". And while it's smart not to wave a red cape at bullish consumers in a negative moment, brands should be careful not to let all that could go wrong drive the experience of all that should go right.

Red isn't negative if you're a Man U fan

Consumers are tuned in to the functional, emotional and brand use of colour. Yes, red can mean stop, but it's also the colour of the world's favorite sports team (Manchester United). Red is a dynamic colour, symbolic of energy and joy, and should be expressed as such.

06. Giving colour a supporting cast

In building your brand, it's important to understand the role that each of the tools in the brand toolbox plays. Colour can be a very effective tool, but name, symbol, imagery and graphic elements give you a broad range of ways to establish and maintain your brand's relevance.

Coke's colour is but one aspect of its strong branding

For instance, Coca-Cola is recognised globally for its signature red colour. But in addition to this, Coke also has a distinctive logotype, uniquely shaped bottle, iconic wave, and polar bear character to express various dimensions of the brand and help you enjoy the experience.

07. Think physical and digital

Consider how colour will transition from the physical to digital worlds and vice versa. As someone who has had to repaint a room in his house multiple times after thinking that the one-inch square paint chip would look wonderful on a 12x20ft room will attest, colours change with context, volume and light.

Equally, colours in the physical world don't always translate to the digital world, where issues including colour contrast, scale and accessibility come into play.

08. Use colour to challenge

Many challengers have adopted colours that challenge the category colour convention to mark out their territory. T-Mobile defies expectations in the telecommunications space with its bright pink.

Colour can serve as a catalyst to put the industry incumbents on notice that red and blue are not the only games in town.

T-Mobile's pink defies expectations

Choosing a brand colour can be an emotionally charged, if not a psychology revealing, exercise. Whether pragmatic or inspired, colour is often a critical piece of an integrated and holistic brand program.

Colour is visceral. Colour is meaningful. Colour can't replace customer experience – but it can paint it in the best light possible.

Words: Brendán Murphy

Brendán Murphy is senior partner in design at Lippincott, a leading global branding firm.

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