Using colours in school branding to evoke emotional connections.
Colours affect perceptions and behaviours, and the knowledge gained in studying this phenomenon is immensely useful in branding. In marketing for schools, the choice of colours is important in eliciting a response. One American study found that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products are based on colour alone.
It’s not that simple, of course, once you put personal experience, cultural differences, specific associations, and football team strips into the mix. This means that determining what colours to use in a new logo or school rebrand can be tricky, requiring consideration of a host of factors.
Despite this challenge, having some knowledge of how colours might be used to guide people’s emotions and actions, plays a key role in design decisions made to benefit your school. What seems to matter significantly is achieving a good match between the colours and the product; for example, the difference is in the perception of whether a colour is right for the brand. Psychologist Jennifer Aaker discusses what she calls 5 Dimensions of Brand Personality:
This is about giving your brand a ‘personality’ and for schools this is going to be tied up with motivations, history, values and strengths.
There are also considerations to do with combinations of colours, and some believe that by simply standing out as different from the crowd (shocking pink perhaps?) is the top priority. When working with schools to develop a brand identity, we only rarely want to initiate something completely new; we recognise that a dominant colour in school branding will have long and far-reaching associations. Red and green should never be seen (not true, just something our mums told us as we went out as teenagers) but if red and green were your school’s colours since before teenage-hood was invented, hang onto them! Colours are a big part of what makes your brand recognisable. Think how confusing it is if you are used to milk with a green top being semi-skimmed when you go somewhere that uses red for semi-skimmed. Consider flavours of crisps – however silly it seems to have blue associated with salt and vinegar, we all know it would look wrong if changed.
Having said that, as a school you are not only targeting those who remember you from days gone by; your school may have changed, modernised, or be accepting a more diverse range of pupils, reflecting cultures where colours have different meanings. Or perhaps previous branding has not worked well for you and a new colour set could change things.
In truth and in practice, the choice of colours requires careful consideration of what you want to say and who you want to say it to. Your colours will provoke a response in people considering your school – and it is worth investing some time and thought into what you can do to determine that response.