A comprehensive guide to choosing packaging colors

Arjita

Business head
September 22, 2020

Colour— a visual representation of your brand— is an integral part of product packaging. It can trigger thoughts, feelings, and emotions about your product; and, directly impact purchasing decision.

This makes picking the right colour or colours for packaging all the more important. But how do you pick a palette that suits your brand, describes your product, helps you build a unique identity, and appeals to your customer


Image courtesy: thedieline.com

Let’s weigh-in.

How to Choose the Right Packaging Colours

Consumer Buying Behavior tells us that consumers are influenced by packaging colours. When picking the most suitable shade for your product packaging, you need to keep several things in mind.


While there are a lot more factors to be considered, such as printing technology, the nature of the printing surface, or the print finish, choosing packaging colours is a careful decision to be made. And this decision cannot be made without understanding what your audience subconsciously associates with popular colours.


The Packaging Colour Psychology

Different hues influence human behaviour and emotion in multiple ways. A person’s response to a particular colour is triggered involuntarily and is driven by psychology. For example, brighter colours tend to reduce the seriousness of packaging, black adds sophistication to any packaging, grey or brown make the packaging conservative or masculine, pink adds a feminine touch, while red draws attention.

Shade and tint also play a role. They simply decide how a dull or bright colour should be since different tones have different meanings.

Let’s take a look at popular colors and their business perception.

[Take a quick look at this color psychology cheat sheet to understand packaging colors better]

White



Image courtesy: gearpatrol.com

White is a packaging colour that is often used to convey that the product is simple, safe, traditional. For instance, Apple always highlighted the simplicity of their devices and all iPhone or iPad packaging is white. White is often accented with other colours to enhance or change the perception.


Black


Image courtesy: clementwcreative.com

Generally, black is used for high-end products, and the colour conveys a sense of luxury. It evokes class and elegance. Like white or grey, black can also be accentuated with other colours. Metalized gold or silver printing on matte black packaging creates an expensive look.

Blue


Image courtesy: www.hornallanderson.com


When it comes to product packaging, blue is one of the safest colours to use, irrespective of the age or gender of the potential customer. Another way to view this is to think of blue as boring, owing to its reliability and common use. You’ll have to think about your potential customers before going ahead with blue. Choosing the right shade of blue can allow you to target a specific market. Generally, darker shades of blue appeal to older audiences whereas lighter or more vibrant hues are for younger customers.

Red


Image courtesy: economictimes.com


Red can stand for a lot of things. It really depends on the shade of red you are using. Darker shades are linked with products that are luxurious and professional whereas lighter shades are associated with products that are lively, energetic, but can be thought of as having a lower market value. Often gold or silver embellishments can help in lifting the perceived value.

Green


Image courtesy: www.emorykole.com


Green has been a staple colour for eco-friendly, natural, or healthy organic products. Like with red, darker shades of green are often linked to more luxurious products whereas muted shades are used for products associated with safety or nutrition.

Orange


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Psychology associates orange with exploration, extroversion, confidence, and optimism. However, different shades of orange have different meanings. Orange is a difficult colour to work with. But when done right, it can do your brand wonders.

Yellow

Image courtesy: www.pantone.com

In packaging, yellow suggests originality, innovation, and fun. Yellow packaging is generally targeted at children and adolescents. It is an excellent option for products that aim to make people happy.

Turquoise


Image courtesy: andersnord.com

Turquoise is a calming colour. It conveys clarity of thought. Turquoise is a great colour choice for health-related products or even cleaning products because it symbolizes cleanliness and purity without being too sterile.

Purple


Image courtesy: www.confectionerynews.com


Purple is used by food brands that are more of an indulgence than a necessity. Holistic products also make use of purple packaging since it’s associated with individuality and imagination. Purple with gold or silver accents can add a sense of exclusivity and exceptional quality.

Pink


Image courtesy: www.racked.com

Pink is non-threatening and calming. It is associated with empathy, sincerity, and beauty. Softer shades of pink are generally used for the packaging of products that are targeted towards females. However, darker shades of pink or combining pink with darker colours signify strength and sophistication. A muted and greyed out pink attracts an older market whereas bright neon pink attracts pre-teens.

While individual colours indicate certain aspects, adding a combination of colours, accents, or prints in a different colour can change or alter your messaging. When creating a colour palette for your packaging, it is essential to know how to combine colours. You can choose from harmonious or contrasting colours. For instance, green tea packaging might have analogous colours whereas an energy drink packaging usually has complementary, bright colours.

Packaging Colour by Industry

The industry plays an important role when it comes to packaging colour. That’s because of the perception the industry has on the buyer. Buyers are likely to take food and pharmaceutical packaging colour more seriously than FMCG product packaging. Here are some insights.

Food and Beverage

In food packaging, red has always been universally accepted. Green is used for healthy and natural foods whereas yellow is used for high energy serotonin-inducing products. Orange is associated with healthy and filling foods such as oats whereas blue is used for fun foods, such as cakes or crackers.

Cosmetics

Cosmetic packaging traditionally makes use of pink and blue hues. As expected, packaging with pink is targeted towards female consumers whereas blue has been used for both the male and female segments. Cosmetic packaging also makes use of black and white colours. Products with charcoal often use grey or black packaging. Whereas products for children or products with milk extracts make use of white packaging.

Retail

In retail packaging, the colour often depends on the product as well as the brand. In most cases, the colour is determined by the product. At other times, the colour associated with branding is used. For instance, the packaging of the detergent product, Tide, has been predominantly orange, and the colour is a part of the brand identity.

Similarly, Canon uses red and white in their camera and printer retail packaging. The retail packaging of Casio watches uses vastly different colours. They use blue for their low-cost line-up, black for the more expensive series, white for women’s watches, and grey for their vintage collection. On the Run energy bars have different colours of packaging that indicate different flavours.

Electronics

The colour used in electronics packaging often depends on the brand’s image or message – there is no fixed colour.  For instance, Microsoft uses white, grey, or black packaging for its Surface devices to signify simplicity and power. Apple also makes use of white packaging. Motorola has made use of more vibrant colours for their phone boxes. While Logitech uses its proprietary green shade.

Some Final Tips Before Winding Up


Keep your customers and your brand at the forefront when choosing packaging colours. If you’re going all out with re-branding or creating packaging for a new product, mood boards can help. If you want to deep dive and understand packaging colours, font, and dimensions used by other brands or want to compare designs, our free artwork proofing tool can help you.

Are there any other colours you’d like to know about? Have you tested out packaging shades for your product? If you’re looking to decide on the right packaging colour, let’s start a conversation. Our team of experts can help you create a remarkable package design.


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