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Everything You Need to Know About Colour

Karen Haller is a specialist in business brand colour, interiors and wellbeing, the author of The Little Book of Colour and a leading international authority on colour psychology. 

Here are her key takeaways on developing a better relationship with colour and applying it effectively and impactfully.


Show your true colours

Sometimes retailers and designers feel that they have to follow set trends, and that if they don’t their products will be considered less commercial. It can feel that as soon as you release a new product on the market there’s a new on-trend hue.

Trends are there to inspire, not to slavishly follow. If you feel there is a colour that communicates the story of your collection, or how you want people to feel, then trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to make your own colour trend. 

How does colour make you feel?

Colour is more than purely visual, it has an impact on our emotions. It can change how we feel in an instant and has the ability to cut straight to our core. As designers and makers, specific colours, combinations and proportions can make or break a design or a product by instantly changing how your customers feel.

When you are looking to excite, motivate or stimulate through colour, look for vibrant tones. If you want colours that soothe, and which are gentle and ‘quiet’, then seek out colours that have low chroma value.

Colour is cultural   

Colour can have great cultural significance, which is something to be mindful of when designing or buying for a specific target market, particularly overseas.For example, red in China is good luck and good fortune, while white is a symbol of death and is considered bad luck. Cultural beliefs can have an impact on sales, so it’s vital to do your research.

Engaging emotions

When we buy something it is often because of the emotion that the colour of the product makes us feel. As humans, we like to think of ourselves as logical beings, and we often rationalise our choices on the basis of performance or price, but in reality we buy because of an emotional want or need. Colour can be that emotional trigger.

Use colour to engage with your customers. Think about how buying from you is going to make them feel. Use colour to trigger the kinds of emotional responses that will make them feel that they can trust you and your brand, and want to buy from you.

Colour in context

The context in which a colour is used can significantly change its meaning and the way we perceive and respond to it. For example, even though blue is the world’s favourite colour, used in a different context such as food, it can appear unnatural and off putting.

When using colour in a professional capacity, consider the differences in how it is best applied, depending on the project – whether an interior design, a product or a branding exercise. 

This article has been adapted from a piece originally written by Karen Haller, for our sister Show Top Drawer. Karen Haller is the author of The Little Book of Colour published by Penguin Life and available in 13 languages. 

Website: | IG: @Karen_Haller_Colour 


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