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  • Writer's pictureIan Morris

Colour psychology: how multicolour brands have an impact

Decorative image with "Colour Psychology" text at the front and splashes of colour in the back

Last year, we explored how eleven different colours are used in the world of branding. Their history, their cultural significance, their positives and their drawbacks. We start this year off with one last group to explore – which brands are brave enough to mix up their palette with four or more colours for a multicolour brand?

We’ll see if brands have been able to utilise the rainbow and been rewarded with a pot of gold at the end of it. And if a multicoloured brand could be for you.

Multicolour brands

Most brands use a core pairing of colours but, used carefully, having several core colours provides the versatility, interest and impact that some brands need to stand out in crowded market sectors.

Simple brands work well but, surprisingly, many big brands have successfully incorporated four or more colours in their brand over the years.

Colour for representation

Consistently ranked in the top 10 most valuable brands in the world Microsoft has used four colours to represent the four core areas of its business – Windows, Office, Xbox and Bing. The logo style has changed a number of times over the year but the blue, red, green and yellow have been present for over 20 years.

They’re not the only colourful brand to feature in the top 10. Google uses the simple but effective coloured logo on a white background for the world’s most visited website

And if you’re on Google you might be about to pop in a search for eBay. Another popular brand to use the same four colours

Apple has been at the pinnacle of branding perfection for many and known for its simple, elegant branding. However from the mid-70s to the late 90s it was awash with colours, 6 of them to be precise.

brand colour psychology multicoloured brands

Famous brands that adopt a multicoloured palette

During its rebrand in 2016 Instagram went for a bold new look. For a progressive brand with a global reach focused on showcasing images, encompassing several colours in its logo seems a natural choice.

In its desire to capture and keep a young audience it’s not the only brand to go for the playful and approachable look. Playstation has progressed over the years from its original 3 to the current 4 colours.

And Toys R Us, from the brands inception in the 1940s until it closed its doors for the final time earlier this year, was a multicoloured beacon for children everywhere.

Colour for television

Due to the medium, it’s unsurprising that many television broadcasters and production companies have proudly displayed an array of colours.

The CNBC/NBC multi coloured peacock was introduced to showcase colour programming in the early days.

Channel 4 may have toned down their colours in recent years from its original five colour logo but continues its colourful heritage through the even more diverse More 4 logo which boasts seven colours and several more shades within this.

ITV followed the trend bringing in a more colourful logo in recent years. Sky and BT both multicoloured logos, the latter using seven in a logo that was a considerable departure from their previous patriotic coloured piper icon.

Multicolour in the world

Having a multitude of colours is well represented in nature where there are many examples of a number of colours coming together.

Picture of a peacock

Many birds, butterflies and fish combine different colours to blend in with their surroundings, attract a mate or to ward off predators.

There are a number of instances of rainbow mountains around the globe, including in Peru and China, so striking and different to the norm they almost don’t look real.

In culture, the ‘coat of many colours’ given to Joseph by his father drew envy from his brothers as the multicoloured garment stood out from the crowd.

Colour balance with multicolour brands

Using many colours so prominently in a brand is a matter of balance. A well thought out logo adds interest and is eye-catching but will limit the background colours you can use. Be prepared for this or having to sacrifice the full colour for the black or white versions when the background colour necessitates.

It also takes more consideration in the management so a good set of brand guidelines come into their own. Otherwise, your brand could look inconsistent if the many options of colours aren’t applied correctly.

More from the brand colour psychology series

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