Emotions are what connect people with brands. One of the most basic ways for a brand to communicate emotion is through color on its products and packaging. A major challenge for packaging designers is to select the right colors that reflect the emotional intensity of the product's values. Here's a look at how color variables contribute to brand recognition.
Hues on Color Charts
Colors can be studied based on their hue, saturation, and brightness. The hue or tint is synonymous with what most people would identify as color. The daytime sky, for example, has a hue that most people would call "blue." Individuals develop emotional associations with colors at a young age.
Researchers have found that certain colors communicate certain imagery or meaning to a large segment of the population. Studies show that people often relate certain colors to states of mind such as pleasure, arousal, and dominance. The most pleasant hues from a 2018 psychology research study by Lisa Wilms and D. Oberfeld, were blue, blue-green, green, red-purple, purple, and purple-blue. Meanwhile, green-yellow, blue-green, and green turned out to be the most arousing hues.
Selecting the hues for your packaging should not necessarily be based on what other companies do. The colors should match the emotional sensation of the product, which will contribute to brand consistency.
Saturation and Brightness
A few other important elements of color are saturation and brightness, which relate to the intensity of the hue. Saturation relates to the hue's concentration while brightness relates to the degree to which the item reflects light.
Different saturation and brightness levels can be explored when developing a new campaign. Professional photographers are familiar with the importance of saturation and brightness levels and how they relate to a photo's emotional value. When developing a new brand, it's often important to avoid duplicating color schemes that are overdone within an industry. In order to be perceived as innovative, it's often helpful to select an unusual color scheme.
Chromatic vs. Acromatic
Another dimension to color is the spectrum of chromatic hues. Chromatic refers to hues such as white, grey, and black. Acromatic hues, by contrast, are those that lack white, grey, and black. The use of just black and white in packaging has both a traditional look and a minimalistic look, which some people portray as modern or futuristic.
Many brands have started with black and white logos then evolved over time to include other colors. It makes sense for a small business to use a black and white logo to cut costs. Three or four colors become plenty for the sake of maintaining simplicity. Black and white mixed with other colors can present a powerful and authoritative appearance.
Familiarity and Consistency
Two of the most important aspects of visual brand recognition are familiarity and consistency. The more consumers become familiar with a brand that delivers consistent results, the more they build a relationship with it based on trust.
Color plays an important role in communicating emotion to the consumer. This emotional connection can grow over time the more the consumer interacts with the brand's products. It's important for packaging designers, particularly those using metal, to understand the main aspects of color: hue, saturation, and brightness. Each of these variables contributes to the emotional story that develops between the brand and consumer.
 It Looks Like a Toyota: Educational Approaches to Designing for Visual Brand Recognition (2007), by Toni-Matti Karjalainen