What's in a Colour?

VIBGYOR! The acronym we all have used to remember the order of colours in a rainbow. Before that, red, yellow, and blue were among the first colours we could identify, which also happen to be primary colours. Somehow, green in spite of being a secondary colour made its way up to the list and got the same importance as first colours we could recognize. Since then, there was no stopping. We were introduced and exposed to a myriad of colours. colours are not as innocuous as they appear. They can evoke certain feelings, thoughts, and emotions. It makes me wonder that how can a variation in RGB value change our perception?


At least a singular association still appears logical. Can you imagine what sort of messed up identity crisis the colour red would face if it were a human? Red is associated with love and violence, desire and danger, passion and anger, and every other oxymoron you can come up with. Now if a brand ends up choosing red as their primary brand colour, they would want the consumers to relate them to strength, leadership, determination, action, vigor, and some other desirable qualities associated with red. The impact of colour on the consumers’ psyche is inexplicable and unavoidable. There are brands whose profits shot up or went down just by tweaking their brand colour.


Like red, other colours also seem to have a split personality of sorts. And then if you add in different cultures and religions, the colour symbolism deviates as well. Time has played tricks on the way we perceive colours too. What comes to your mind when you see the colour pink? Feminine grace or girlish charm? What if I tell you a magazine in 1918 asked parents to dress up their boys in pink and girls in blue? The bizarre reason behind this was that “pink seemed to be a lighter shade of red, a more decided and stronger colour, which seemed more suitable for the boy; while blue was seen as more delicate and dainty, prettier for the girl.” Because God forbid, their daughters turned out strong and sons became delicate. That’s straight up sacrilege. Fast-forward to now, we still aren’t used to men claiming back the colour pink that was considered to be a more decided and stronger colour meant for boys. Time, evolving fashion trends, events, and intellectual evolution orchestrate the way we look at colours.


Brands spend millions on design and colour to wire our brains for desiring their products. Our natural senses dictate us to get influenced first by colour, followed by shapes, symbols, and words. So, there is no running away from spending time, money, and resources on meticulous selection of brand colour. In the end, consumers want a good product and their personal experience is what matters the most. By selecting a colour smartly, brands cross the first barrier of capturing attention. After that, product quality and consumer experience take the lead and determine the brand’s fate.


Looking beyond the colour economics, I think colours are fun. They add variety and vibrancy in our life. Nature gave us a vivid palette, and we went ahead and broadened that palette by introducing even a wider range of shades, hues, tints, tones, and what not. We all have our favorites. As Shakespeare famously wrote in Romeo and Juliet “What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” There might be nothing in the name, but there is definitely an incomprehensibly lot in the colour.