Corporate identity colours: what do they mean?

Whenever you visit a website, the first things you’ll often notice are the web page’s colours. It’s important that these fit the message you’d like your organisation to communicate. In this blog, we’ll explain which colour means what, to make choosing the right colour(s) a bit easier. Curious? Then read on. 

Huisstijl - Ictoria

Colours fitting the target audience 

Choosing colours is an important part of the corporate identity a company or organisation adopts. In fact, according to Chamber of Commerce (KVK) adviser Juliëtte Geers, it is one of the 5 most important steps in choosing a corporate identity. This is because customers – consciously or unconsciously – associate colours with your core values, because colours evoke certain feelings or emotions, as studies on the psychological effects of colours have shown.   

The colour you choose should suit your business and your target audience. Colours can determine the success of your message. An organisation or company with a colour that matches its image (its values, mission, strategy and character) can more easily stand out from other companies and organisations, successfully attract and retain customers. If the colour does not match your image, this could give you a confusing image that is bad for your customer base, so that youll have to put extra effort into making clear what you stand for, and why customers should come/return to you.   

Which emotions do colours evoke?  

The emotional associations that colours evoke in people can be very subjective, but there are some general associations that apply to most people. Warm colours like red, orange and yellow can make people feel enthusiastic or alert, while cool colours like green, blue and brown can make people feel calm, satisfied and protected. Green, blue and brown are also associated with reliability and loyalty.  

The colours explained:  

Green is the default colour for anything to do with nature, the environment and sustainability. In traffic and everyday speech, ‘getting the green light’ is that you can go, you can do something, something is ok or positive. 
Blue is widely associated with the sky and with water, so airlines (such as KLM), shipbuilders and shipping companies often use blue in their corporate identity, because it matches the terrain their vehicles fly or sail through. But if you want your aircraft to stand out in the sky, you could also choose a colour that is a bit brighter but goes well with blue, such as orange (e.g., EasyJet). Blue can also come across as cool or cold (due to its association with bluish ice), while red or yellow, due to their association with the sun, fire and glowing objects, create the feeling of warmth or heat; for this reason, a tap has blue on the knob for cold water and red for hot water.  
Red is an active colour that stands out well, has a signalling function and makes people alert. It can get you excited, raise your blood pressure and make you crave certain foods to eat. However, red often has a negative association, such as for danger or prohibition, as in traffic lights and signs. Other associations of red with danger include anger and violence (because of the colour of blood) and the fire brigade (flames).    

In East Asia, red is the colour of good luck. Red is also the colour of love and excitement (often symbolised by a red, beating heart) and, in this sense, usually positive, but not always.  

Companies should therefore think carefully about what association red might evoke in certain contexts; if it is undesirable, they should avoid them and choose a different colour for their corporate identity.  

Purple is associated with passion, enthusiasm, playfulness and luxury (nobility).  

In some cases, as a company or organisation, it is best to use two or more colours, but even there you’ll have to be careful and think about whether the colours match, don’t ‘clash’ with each other, and what possible associations this colour combination may have.  

A company may also decide to challenge precisely the generally accepted colour associations, turning them on their head by surprising customers and thereby attracting their attention; if well thought out, this can be very successful, but there are also risks involved.   

More tips?

After reading this blog, would you like to know more about how your website can better connect with your target audience? Our web design team is ready to provide you with advice! You can make an appointment with us.   

Would you like to know more about which font to use? Then read our blog on this topic: Which font is best suited for your website?  

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