In this post, I want to discuss what colour theory is and its affect on the end user. More specifically I want to dig into biotech as an industry and some advice on how best to use colour.
If you are not interested, please skip this intro to colour theory.
- Colour Wheel
- Hue, saturation, and brightness
- Colour Combinations/Harmonies
- Colour Context
- Colour Psychology
- What is biotechnology?
Colour theory starts with the colour wheel which was invented by Isaac
The two types of colour wheels are RGB and RYB (CMYK). CMYK is useful for artists as mixing colours uses subtractive colour mixing model and it’s used on anything physical like posters and paper. RGB is what you are looking at now and used by mixing light – additive colour mixing model.
The colour wheel is made up of twelve colours (red, orange, yellow, chartreuse green, green, spring green, cyan, azure, blue, violet, magenta and rose) and can be divided into three different colour groups.
Primary colours are Red, Yellow and Blue. These colours can be mixed together to create white. Three pigment colours that cannot be mixed or formed by any combination of other colours. All other colours are derived from these 3 hues.
Secondary colours are a result of mixing two primary colours together. When using subtractive and the RYB colour wheel you will get purple (red mixed with blue), orange (red mixed with yellow), and green (yellow mixed with blue). The classics.
Tertiary colours are created by mixing a secondary colour with a primary these are orange, chartreuse green, spring green, azure, violet and rose.
In the RYB
Warm and Cool Colours
The colour wheel can be divided to create warm or cool colours (temperature). Warm colors (red through to yellow) are said to bring to mind happiness, optimism and energy, while cool colors (blue to green and purple) are associated with serenity and isolation.
Hue, Saturation and Brightness
HSB (or HSL) stands for Hue, Saturation (Chroma) and Brightness (Luminosity).
Shade, Tint and Tone
Tint is created when you add white to the base hue. This makes it lighter and desaturates the hue and makes it less intense. They also make colours calmer and quiet.
When you add both black and white (grey) to a base hue, this is known as Tone. They appear less saturated or intense and often more closely resemble real-life colour.
Now with the colour wheel out the way, let’s talk about how we can use it to find harmonious colours.
Complimentary colours are colours that exist at opposite ends of the colour wheel. These colours are high impact, vibrant and contrast with each other very well but must be used carefully so they are not jarring. Contrasting colours can really help imagery pop and is a good idea for logos or identities. Complimentary colours are not advisable for text and typography.
Monochromatic colours are three shades – tones and tints of one base hue. They are a much more subtle colour combination and can feel calm and harmonious when used.
Three colours that are side by side on the colour wheel are called analogous and are often found in nature. These colours have a high impact but should be used wisely as they can be overpowering. You should use one dominant colour from this selection while the other two should be used as accents. Analogous colours can be used effectively on websites as it can draw the eye so that a user knows where to take action.
Triadic colours are three colours that are evenly spaced on the colour wheel and are bright and dynamic. Triadic colours can create contrast and harmony simultaneously so can be very effective. Once again, let one of these colours dominate and use the others as accents.
These are four colours evenly spaced on the colour wheel with two complimentary squares (Double-Complementary Relationship). Tetradic colours are quite bold and can offer a lot of variations. Letting one colour remain dominant is key here and being aware of cold and warm colours so that correct grouping can be established.
Another key thing to note is how colours behave in relation to others. Two of the same colours used in slightly different ways can create different contrasting effects. This is called simultaneous contrast. This is at its most powerful when the colours are complementary colours. Michel Chevreul studied the idea that an object of any given colour will cast a shadow tinged with that of its complementary colour. There are several effects of colour context.
The most drastic and obvious effect of simultaneous contrast is the apparent shift in brightness. If you take two squares of the same hue and surround it with a lighter or darker shade, the square surrounded by the darker shade will appear lighter and the square surrounded by the lighter shade will appear darker.
Similarly, chroma can apparently be affected by having two squares of the same hue surrounded by a desaturated and an increased saturation of that hue. The colour on the right seems duller against the high contrast and reversely the colour on the left seems extreme opposite. This is because value and chroma are often confused in colour perception.
Colour context source: http://facweb.cs.depaul.edu/sgrais/color_context.htm
Colour can play to our stereotypical view of the world and the way we understand it. Given this, we can take a look at the different colours and what they could mean to an observer of
These explanations are very subjective though. It can vary because of someones past experiences or cultural differences so take with a pinch of salt and do your research.
Red is warm and dynamic and can (apparently) invoke hunger. It can also be associated with passion, love, anger and danger. Red is playful, modern and exciting but used as an accent as it can be quite tiring to look at.
Orange can be asso
Happiness, friendship, energy and hope. A brand using yellow gives a sense of optimism and cheerfulness but can also be tiring to look at so use sparingly.
Cool colours are usually calming and soothing but can also express sadness. Cool colours are often chosen by health and security sectors.
Green is, of course, associated with wealth, nature and health. It’s also very easy on the eyes and because of its association with nature, green can depict growth, prosperity and safety.
Blue apparently induces chemical reactions in the body that are calming so is great for calm and spiritual brands. Dark blues feel more corporate and professional but can also feel cold. Light blue is relaxed and friendly. Blue is also trustworthy and mature.
Purple can be associated with royalty, wealth, sophistication and authority. It can be soothing and calming being a colder colour but is also perceived to be luxurious. Purple is also commonly associated with mystery and romance. It’s not overly feminine but still holds on to those connotations.
Neutral colours include black,
What is biotechnology?
If biotech is a new field to you then it would be useful to start in understanding what it is. Biotechnology is the use of living organisms to make some kind of product. It is a branch of applied life sciences which is a fairly new association but biotech as a study goes back thousands of years. Biotechnology isn’t just healthcare and medicines. It extends much further than that and often referred to as a rainbow making the topic of “colour” a bit more tricky.
Red biotechnology (Biopharma) mainly revolves around pharmaceutical and medicine. Producing vaccines and antibiotics, developing new drugs, molecular diagnostics techniques, regenerative therapies and development of genetic engineering. It utilises organisms to improve health and fight diseases.
Green biotechnology is the use of genetically altered plants or animals to produce more environmentally friendly farming solutions as an alternative to existing methods.
Yellow biotechnology is known as “biotechnology with insects”. It’s a modern agriculture branch related to food production where insects are used for research or application in agriculture and medicine. Completing the primary colour trinity of biotech (Red – Animals, Green – Plants).
White biotechnology/Grey biotechnology
Industrial biotechnology refers to the use of living cells and/or their enzymes to create industrial products that are more easily degradable, require less energy, create less waste during production and sometimes perform better than products created using traditional chemical processes.
Blue biotechnology has been assigned to aquaculture, coastal and marine biotech. Blue biotechnology is more of a field that makes use of marine bioresources as the source of biological applications.
Gold – Bioinformatics, computer science
Brown – Biotechnology of dessert and dry regions
Violet – Law, ethics and philosophy
Dark – Bioterrorism, biological warfare
The importance of colour in your branding cannot be understated. It can be a powerful tool to invoke emotion and behaviours. Having the right brand strategy can also attract a certain type of customer because of these associations and emotions. The effect colours can have with each other is also an important fact. With this knowledge of colour theory and biotechnology, we can look into how we can utilise this in your logo/identity, branding and marketing.
I think it’s safe to assume cool colours like green, blue and purple are a great option for biotech companies. Maturity, trust, calming and health are all connotations with these colours. As we’ve explained, this is not a hard and fast rule though it is a helpful guide. It’s important to know your brand’s values and your brand promise and work this into your logo or branding. Also, knowing the different areas of biotech, use this as a nod to the scientific field. It could also be a fun way of accenting the logo.
We believe a great brand and brand name revolves around the underlying values and benefits of your product and service so thinking about colour in the same way and not necessarily using direct associations gives it the flexibility to move with trends but also commits to a deeper brand story.
Realising the importance that brand development can have on your product is more important than ever and getting it right may have an impact in determining its success. We work with these types of things in mind and are particularly passionate about revolutionary products that set to enhance peoples lives. Connecting to these individuals with consistent brand messaging and appealing to them commercially will inevitably have an impact on the adoption and success of your product. Looking at other recent acquisitions, a lot of smaller biotech companies are being backed by larger companies in the same field so seeking a strong brand which appeals to these scenarios is another way to look at the investment of a good brand.
Read our blog on how to build an awesome tech brand if you’re looking for more valuable info!