rawson print packaging log

The role of colour psychology in custom packaging design

27 Nov, 2023

Scientists have studied it. Academics have analysed it. Marketers have made or failed their sales targets with it. Artists and designers have sought to capture it.

What is “it”?


Think about how the colours you see every day make you feel. They’re one of the most powerful visual cues in the world around us, capable of evoking feelings of joy, excitement, fun, calm, fear, nervousness and even appetite.

When you look at your favourite brands, one of the first things you might notice are their distinctive logos, packaging and colours. Visual elements pack a punch: they’re vital for brand recognition and consumer perception, and can contribute to the success or failure of the products and services we use.


Understanding colour psychology in marketing

Colour psychology is the study of how different colours can influence our emotions and behaviours. In marketing and branding, it’s a powerful tool used strategically and deliberately across anything from packaging, storefronts and online content to TV and outdoor advertising and more to evoke specific feelings, convey messages and establish a unique identity among consumers. It all adds up to help that brand be front-of-mind when potential customers are shopping for goods and services.

Colour psychology plays a big role in custom packaging services, where the right choice of colours can have a profound impact on your brand’s success.


Colour associations and meanings

While colour preferences can be very personal, studies show strong trends in the associations and meanings we draw from different colours.

According to one study, nearly 85% of consumers say colour is their primary reason for buying a particular product. People tend to make subconscious judgement about a product or brand within 90 seconds of first viewing it—with between 62%–90% of that assessment based on colour alone!

Look at the colours below and some common responses they can evoke. Do you identify with any of these feelings? Do you associate any specific brands with one or more of these colours?

  • Red: Passion, excitement, power, energy or urgency.
  • Blue: Trust, reliability, intelligence or calm.
  • Green: Nature, growth, peace or freshness.
  • Yellow: Warmth, positivity, fun, energy or cheerfulness.
  • Purple: Luxury, wisdom, indulgence, holistic, or spirituality.
  • Orange: Friendly, cost-effective, creativity or adventure.
  • Turquoise: Clarity, calm, purity, cleanliness or health.
  • Pink: Calm, beauty, youthful or femininity.
  • Brown: Wholesome, earthy, comforting or natural.
  • Black: Sophistication, luxury, mysterious or elegance.
  • White: Purity, simplicity, elegance, openness or cleanliness.
  • Grey: Neutral, balanced, calm or reliable.


The impact of colour on different industries

While there are clear trends in colour psychology and colour choices in specific industries, it’s also not a one-size-fits-all approach. Be wary of choosing the same colour as everyone else and blending in.

  • Food and beverage: Colours can influence taste perceptions. Warm colours like red and orange can stimulate appetite so are commonly used on food packaging of all types. Green is popular with healthy, natural and vegetarian options.
  • Cosmetics and beauty: High-end brands often use minimalist black or white packaging and metallic highlights to convey luxury or quality, while soft pinks are frequently used for feminine or youth-focused products.
  • Health and wellness: Natural, calming colours like green and blue create a sense of trust and serenity, which aligns with a wellbeing focus.
  • Technology: Tech companies often choose sleek, modern and widely liked colours like silver, grey and blue to convey innovation and reliability.
  • Kids’ products: Bright, playful primary colours can attract the attention of children and convey a sense of fun.
  • Eco-friendly and sustainable products: Green, brown or other earthy tones create a more natural feel, as do uncoated and recycled paper stocks.


Choosing the right colours for your brand

Selecting the “right” colours for your packaging isn’t just about personal preference, but the message you want to convey. Understanding colour associations will help you make a strategic decision based on your brand’s identity and target audience. Here are a few tips to help you choose the perfect colours:

  • Know your brand: Identify your brand’s personality, values and mission. Is it playful and vibrant? Does it aim for trustworthiness and reliability?
  • Understand your audience: Consider the demographics and psychographics (e.g. values, opinions, interests and personality) of your target audience. Different colours resonate differently with various attributes.
  • Analyse the competition: Research your competitors and the colours they use. You may want to choose colours that help your brand stand out but still fit within your industry.
  • Colour harmony: Pay attention to colour harmony. Complementary or analogous colours can work together to create a unique, visually appealing or balanced packaging design.
  • Test and refine: Before hitting print on your custom packaging design, test it with your audience and make any adjustments.


Tips for effective colour implementation

So how do you go about effectively implementing colour choices in your custom packaging design?

  • Consistency: Help your brand be cohesive by using consistent colours across all branding materials, including packaging, logos and marketing collateral.
  • Contrast: Ensure that your text and graphics contrast with the background colour for readability and visual appeal.
  • Emotionally engage: Use colour to evoke specific emotions related to your product, service or values.
  • Colour combinations: Explore different colour combinations to create a unique and memorable brand identity.
  • Cultural considerations: Be mindful of cultural interpretations of colour and how these relate to your audience, as some colours have different meanings in certain cultures or communities.
  • Minimalism: Less can be more. A clean, minimalist design can be just as effective as a colourful one.
  • Sustainability: Consider eco-friendly packaging and inks to align with consumer values.


How Rawson can help

At Rawson Print & Packaging we specialise in fibre-based, folding carton packaging used across many sectors, including food, pharmaceuticals, beauty and cosmetics, consumer goods and promotional items. We offer construction design, mock-ups and sampling so you can test your colour choices before finalising your packaging for printing.

When it comes to custom packaging, don’t underestimate the power of colour. It’s not just about aesthetics; it’s about creating a brand identity that resonates with your audience and leaves a lasting impression.

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