Colour theory, or the study of how colours interact with one another and impact human perception and emotion, is a fundamental aspect of product design. Understanding the role of colour theory is essential for creating products that resonate with your target audience, especially in today’s competitive market, where consumers are bombarded with choices.

The strategic use of colour can influence consumers’ perceptions, emotions, and purchasing decisions, ultimately shaping the success of your product in the marketplace. It’s a must, then, for brands and product design NZ companies, to be mindful when it comes to choosing colours for their merchandise. Here are a few concerns businesses should keep in mind when applying colour theory to their products.

Brand Identity

Colour plays an important role in communicating a brand’s personality and values. A brand, after all, is visually expressed through its logo, packaging, and marketing materials, and colour is one of the first things that people notice and remember when identifying branding elements.

For example, the vibrant red of Coca-Cola’s logo conveys energy and excitement, while the sleek white and black of Apple’s products evokes sophistication and innovation. To stand out and create cohesive brand experiences that resonate with consumers, companies should select colours that align with their brand identity.

Product Packaging

Product packaging serves as a silent salesman to consumers who are exploring e-commerce stores or the shelves of their local shops. Colours can play a crucial role in vying for consumers’ attention and ensuring that products are seen and noticed. The use of bold and contrasting hues in packaging can help products stand out amidst competitors. Consider the bright yellow packaging of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate. This can effectively grab consumer attention. Meanwhile, the muted pastels of luxury skincare brands convey elegance and refinement.

User Interface Design

Digital products typically utilise user interface (UI) designs that rely heavily on colour to guide users’ interactions and enhance usability. High contrast colour schemes can draw attention to important elements, such as buttons or call-to-action prompts, while complementary colour palettes create visual harmony and aid in navigation.

Product Labelling

Colour-coded labelling simplifies product identification for consumers, especially when differentiating between variations such as flavours or sizes. Many beverage and noodle brands make use of different colours in their product labels so that consumers can quickly differentiate one flavour from another. Used in this manner, consistent colour coding can help streamline shopping experiences.

Product Differentiation

In saturated markets, where products often share similar functionalities, colour can be a powerful tool for differentiation. Unique colour combinations can help products stand out from competitors and carve a distinct identity in consumers’ minds. Many corned meat products make use of bold colours for their packaging, for instance. In this case, a corned meat brand can use pastel colours to distinguish it from the competition and attract shopper attention.

Emotional Impact

Colours evoke emotional responses in consumers and influence their perceptions and purchasing decisions. Warm tones like red and orange are associated with energy and excitement, making them ideal for products targeting a youthful audience. In contrast, cool hues like blue and green evoke feelings of calmness and tranquillity, suitable for wellness or relaxation products. By aligning colour choices with the intended emotional impact, designers can create products that resonate with consumers on a deeper level.


Following accessibility guidelines can help product manufacturers ensure that their merchandise can be used by all consumers, including those who have visual impairment. The use of high contrast colour schemes and alternative colour indicators can enhance readability and usability for individuals with colour vision deficiencies. By using colour theory to adhere to accessibility standards, a company can broaden the reach of its product and foster inclusivity and goodwill towards its brand.

Cultural Sensitivity

Colours carry cultural significance and symbolism that vary widely across different regions and communities. For example, while white signifies purity and innocence in Western cultures, it symbolises mourning in many Asian cultures. Designers must be mindful of cultural nuances when selecting colours for global markets to avoid inadvertently offending or alienating consumers. Adapting colour choices to resonate with local cultural preferences demonstrates respect and understanding, fostering positive associations with the brand.

Seasonal or Trend Adaptation

Staying attuned to seasonal trends and cultural festivities allows brands to remain relevant and resonate with consumers throughout the year. Seasonal colour palettes, such as warm earth tones for autumn or pastel hues for spring, can evoke seasonal themes and create timely connections with consumers. Limited edition products featuring themed colour schemes capitalise on consumer excitement and anticipation to drive sales and brand engagement.

Marketing and Advertising

Colours play a central role in marketing and advertising, influencing consumers’ perceptions and behaviours. The strategic use of colours in advertisements can evoke desired emotions and associations, reinforcing brand messaging and prompting action. For example, the vibrant red of a sale banner conveys urgency and excitement, prompting consumers to act quickly. By leveraging colour psychology in marketing materials, brands can effectively communicate their value propositions and connect with target audiences on a visceral level.

Colour remains a powerful tool for crafting meaningful connections between products and consumers in today’s visually driven world. By understanding the psychological nuances of colour and leveraging them effectively, designers can create products that not only perform well in the marketplace but also leave a lasting impression on consumers.