Using Colour to convey meaning, emotion and promote a brand

May 11, 2020  •  1 Comment

The first thing you recognise and associate a particular company or product with is the colour of the logo. When it comes to advertising and marketing, colour is a powerful tool.  In this blog, I talk about how colour conveys meaning, emotion and promotes a brand, and how I use colour for my commercial and model photography shoots.


Using colour to convey meaning, emotion and promote a brandUsing colour to convey meaning, emotion and promote a brand


Welcome to Part Three of my bumper issue blog

Using colour to convey meaning, emotion and promote a brand

So let's put my theory to the test, shall we? I believe the first thing you recognise and associate a particular company or product with is the colour of the logo or brand. I've taken 12 famous logo's, how many do you recognise and can name from the image below?


Sliced famous logosSliced famous logosLet's see how many famous logos you can recognise


I'm pretty confident that wasn't too difficult for you, there may have been one or two which made you think. So now I'm sure you would agree with me colour plays an important role when it comes to advertising. Before I worked as a full-time commercial photographer, I was a graphic designer and art director and loved playing with colours even before I realised how powerful the use of subliminal promotion of colour branding can be, what do I mean by that?

The Colour Palette

Colour plays an important role in how a brand is perceived. Whether it's a fashion brand trying to connect to a youthful audience or a health and wellbeing store who's aim is to strengthen customer trust, using the right colour can help a brand attract and connect with their ideal customer. 


A designer doesn’t always choose a colour for a logo or brand because it is their favourite colour but because they know how powerful colour psychology can be in advertising and marketing.  Colour offers an instantaneous method for conveying meaning and message without words. The advertising industry understands that the consistent use of colour plays a huge role in memory recall. Take my example above where I sliced the logos.


But colour isn't only used to recall a logo or brand, colour creates an emotion. Therapists and interior designers also believe in the power of colour and how it can affect your mood, feelings and behaviour.


The language of colour has even entered our vocabulary to help us describe our emotions. You can be ‘red’ with rage or ‘green’ with envy. We often speak of bright cheerful colours as well as sad or dull ones. A ‘grey’ day may be depressing and result in a feeling of the ‘blues’. Take a look at the illustration below to see how colours can make you feel.



Using Colour in Photography

When I first started photographing for clients I was also still working as a graphic designer. The image below is an early example where I colour coordinated the images and the design but which came first? The clients Branding, of course! In the case of Spurgeons Children's Charity, it was Orange, White and Black. The brief for the newsletter was to make it vibrant and positive! Take another look at the chart above, Orange is also friendly, cheerful and confident.


Spurgeons Footprints newsletterSpurgeons Footprints newsletter


In my previous blog, I talk about Creating a Signature Look in Photography and how and why I use colours to create my style and signature look. Take a close look at the example below and the colours I used. Not only have I used my clients brand colours but I also used a backdrop in the photograph to match the colour of the text which helps create a coherent look to the design. Although my client has black as part of their logo, more often than not, black text is frequently used against a white background, purely because it is easier to read, by introducing the black watch strap and black sidebar in the image below of the Spurgeon's Editor this also helped connect my photography with the design.


Footprints Spurgeons EditorFootprints Spurgeons Editor


When working with a commercial client, I always like to discuss how important it is for them to include their brand colours within their photography. Some clients haven't given this a second thought, while others are very aware of the importance of using their brand colours.


Using Brand Colours in Commercial Photography

I have worked for many years with leading Essex Accountants, Rickard Luckin, not only creating business headshots of their team but creating commercial images of people at work. Before we organised the shoot I met with Rickard Luckin's marketing team who, after our brainstorm, was very keen to introduce my style of photography to their images. They were fully aware of the importance of using their brand colours but had not thought of using it in the subtle way in which I do. Our first few photoshoots consisted of creating headshots and 'action shots' of people at work which created a vast library of images they could use across all their marketing platforms and promotional material. They also used the colour mood boards we created to influence the paint and interior design colours of their offices which for me was an OCD dream come true!


Using colours in photography to promote a brandUsing colours in photography to promote a brandUsing colours in photography to promote a brand (Photo by Phil Jones Photography)


If you look at the graphic on the wall in the above image, you will Rickard Luckin's logo and brand colours which consist of 3 types of blue and a single magenta. Through careful pre-shoot planning with the marketing team, I arrived with a selection of colour props and their team was asked dress wearing the companies corporate colours. The use of different tones of blues and a touch of magenta worked perfectly as far as the client and I were concerned.


A year later and another shoot with the same client. You can see how effective their marketing team were with their internal communication and how willing individuals were to do their best to make our shoot a success. Although each team member dressed in their own individual style, the colours they wore all sat harmoniously within the clients brand and were not used excessively.  


Commercial photography EssexCommercial photography EssexCommercial photography Essex


I don't always just use props and accessories to promote a clients brand. When I originally started working with Essex Solicitors and Lawyers, Birkett Long, my brief was to create business portraits and headshots against a white background which worked perfectly but it was while we were creating a selection of different style portraits for PR use we came up with their current style headshot against the lime green. The marketing team had allocated time for us to experiment with a few looks, colours and photographic styles, and that's when the corporate green was introduced. The background is actually from their event gazebo which was printed to match their brand colour. What is important for us was to create a style of headshot I could recreate in any of their offices in Essex and keep a consistent look. I must admit, I was a little worried at first it would be hard to keep the consistency but we have managed to and I think the shots look great and are a welcome change to the normal portraits against a white or dark background.


commercial photography headshotscommercial photography headshots


Although I've used my signature style of photography for many of my commercial clients, my style has been a big success with models when updating their portfolios. I've had many models tell me that my use of colours and style really makes my images recognisable which as a photographer is what you hope to achieve. As I mentioned in my previous blog, it's important to have a style which works for you and reflects your personality also.


Colour coordinating my photography.

In this shot of model Beth Smith, I used black and shades of gold to keep within our use of a limited colour palette. We had planned before the shoot to use a New Look watch which we knew would compliment Beth's skin tones, makeup and hair colour. I was subconsciously pulled to the location which I had visited before but didn't realise the colours would suit our shot perfectly. This happens to me a lot!  

Model portfolio photoshootModel portfolio photoshootCreating images for social media. Test shoot with model Beth Smith wearing New Look Fashion. This is New Look.


Below: Strong and powerful use of Red, White and Black to promote the Seiko Sportura watch for Bellefontaine's Jewellers in Billericay with model Kelly.

Seiko Watch promotional fitness photoshootSeiko Watch promotional fitness photoshootRetouched for EOS magazine


commercial business photographycommercial business photography

Above: When I'm creating commercial images for businesses, this is very typically what I would do, select colours which suit the model and include my client's main brand colour, in this case, blue. Model Beth Smith.


Creative PhotographyCreative PhotographyCreative Photography. Japanese inspired photoshoot with model tied with rope Shibari style

Above: Using the colour palette in my studio on this Geisha themed shoot with model Rebecca White.

Emotions created by the colour Purple. Creativity, Mystery, Calming, Spiritual, Meditation and Fantasy. 


Beauty photography EssexBeauty photography EssexBeauty photography Essex with model Grace Cairns

Above. Beauty Shoot with model Grace Cairns and make-up by Gemma Howell. Quite often I will select colours because they suit the model and the makeup and don't give the emotional side of choosing a colour too much thought. By the end of the shoot, the emotions the model creates reflect exactly what the psychology suggests.



Brown is a relaxing colour, it is friendly, comforting, warm, supportive, confident and approachable. Model Emma Frisk.

Brown is a relaxing colour Brown is a relaxing colour



Below: Model Ella with strong contrasting colours. Red is always associated with love and apparently Coca Cola!

Model Ella WalkerModel Ella Walker



Below: There's an old rule that says "Blue and Green should never be seen. I guess some rules are made to be broken!

Model: Fitness and Wellbeing photoshoot with model Grace Gray

Fitness photoshoot with model Grace GrayFitness photoshoot with model Grace GrayFemale runner resting following outdoor workout in a park. Beautiful fit redhead girl. Fitness model outdoors. Listening to music with earphones. Healthy lifestyle.


Using colour to convey an emotion.

Yellow and blues instantly make you think of warm sunny days and it was certainly a warm day in London when I shot this lifestyle Daisy Dixon London watch image with actor and model Sian Altman.

Yellow says Friendly, Cheerful, Happiness and Warmth, add a pretty smiling face to the shots and your photograph is oozing those happy vibes and emotions.

Daisy Dixon London WatchesDaisy Dixon London Watches


Below: The same day but a different location and use of colours can really change the mood of an image.

Blue is the colour of Trust. Other colour emotions of blue are Honesty, Loyalty, it is thought to introduce calm and convey serenity. Model Sian Altman

Blue is the colour of TrustBlue is the colour of TrustBlue is the colour of Trust. Actor Sian Altman wearing her Daisy Dixon London Watch

The Land of ColourThe Land of Colour

Above: Credit The Land of Colour. Link below.


I hope you found this blog interesting and I'd be very interested to know if you had ever have given this subject much thought before today? If you are interested in researching in more detail the meaning behind colours then these links may be helpful.


Next time I talk about the Psychology of colour in TV and Films and how it can build harmony or tension within a scene and set the tone of a movie.

Click Here


Click HERE to read Part One Motorcycle Photography: My Journey into the Motorcycle Industry

Click HERE to read Part Two Creating a Signature Look in Photography

Click HERE to read Part Four Psychology of Colour in Film and Cinematic Photography




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Clipping Path Service Provider(non-registered)
Excellent tips and great photos to follow along! Thank you!
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