Colour freedom: the psychology

Welcome to 2017 – this year we’re championing ‘Colour Freedom’ in sustainable product packaging. Why? Because we’re passionate about the role of colour in branded packaging. We believe that colour choice, and quality, is critical as we shape the next generation of sustainable packaging materials. What’s more, we can make sustainable moulded paper in absolutely any shade, without the cost implications brands face when using other packaging materials. That’s a game-changer for global brands.

So how will you use colour in 2017? Here we share some inspiration from our friend Karen Haller. Karen is a true expert in her field – an Applied Colour Psychologist who works with major brands to refine and enhance their use of colour, often with incredible effect.

“What I do is about using colour to positively influence how people think, feel and behave.

“Traditionally, branding and marketing companies look at who the target market is with the aim to align their brand. So it’s actually very outward facing.

Sustainable moulded fibre packaging in any colour from James Cropper 3D Products“I take a different approach. I look at the authentic heart and personality of the brand and align everything in the brand to that. That’s how a brand will take shape to attract their ideal client.

“Whatever the authentic heart of the brand is, I look for the colours to reflect it. These colours are providing the unconscious message that will support words and messaging at the conscious level.

“It is essential that these two levels of thinking are in alignment – because we experience colour first before any other messaging. We see colour first and we make an emotional connection. If someone is looking at your brand, they are already making a judgement based on the colour alone. Then they’ll read what it’s about. If consumers feel the colours aren’t in alignment with the message (words, design, logo), they won’t always consciously realise it, but they’ll sense there’s something not quite right and look elsewhere.

“We are only about 20% conscious of the colour choices we make but 85% of our purchasing decisions are based on colour alone. We just don’t realise that’s what we’re doing.

“There are thousands of colour tones and it’s a matter of analysing which combination is right for your brand. I always talk about colour in terms of musical notes. For example, you’re listening to a symphony, and you hear a flat note and you instantly know there’s something not right. It’s the same with colours. There is a whole brand harmony going on.


Sustainable moulded fibre coloured packaging from James Cropper 3D Products

“With packaging you are usually using colour to raise brand awareness and because your brand is known for a particular colour or colour palette. That’s why what packaging producers do is so important. Brand colour has to be absolutely spot on at every touch point – it not only increases brand awareness but brand loyalty too. If the colour tone is off in any way that’s one of the quickest ways to lose your customers because they’re likely to believe the product is fake, resulting in a loss of trust and with that, sales.

“With internal packaging some brands will want to use the brand colour consistently all the way through. Some brands will want a different colour within the branded box to highlight or showcase the product.

“Some brands like to use silver or grey because it’s a colour that retreats allowing the product to stand out, enabling the product to be the star of the show, not the packaging.

“Bearing in mind all these important factors, you can see how powerful it is to have access to a choice of colours for internal packaging. It is all part of the psychological story you are shaping for your customers. You need that exact colour match, you need to get that colour recipe spot on every time to ensure brand recognition – and that’s no easy thing to do.”

Isn’t it exciting to consider the potential of total Colour Freedom in product packaging? We’ll be sharing a range of insights over the coming months – from other experts as well as our in-house colour team. In the meantime, we’d love to hear from brands and commentators who share our passion for colour, and commitment to sustainable innovation.