We’re all human, and it seems emotion and unconscious thought is what really drives decision making, and by extension our spending choices. Colour is an emotional cue and has a major effect on buying behaviour.

How does colour influence emotion and by extension your customers and sales? I look at:

  • Psychology of colour
  • Unconscious decision making
  • Colour in branding

Colour psychology is a good place to start.

Wikipedia describes colour psychology as the study of hues (colours) on human behaviour. While the influence of colour on individuals can be subjective and may be affected by culture, gender and age, some aspects are considered more universal.

You’re probably already familiar with some broad categories of colour psychology.

Colour wheel graphic on a white backgroundWarm colours, including red orange and yellow, evoke emotions ranging from feelings of sunny warmth and comfort to more passionate feelings of anger and aggression.

While cool colours, like blue, purple and green could be described as calm, secure and tranquil but can also feel cold and sad.

Colour can affect mood and therefore change shopping habits.

Colour is a powerful communication tool and can be used to signal action, influence mood, and even influence physiological reactions.

“Selecting the right colours to use has an enormous impact on product sales.” (J Suresh Kumar). One high street example of this is the prevalence of red and yellow in the logos of popular fast food chains. Also known as the ketchup and mustard theory; that red and yellow are a combination of colours that encourage us to eat.

Think about the advertising panels and logos of McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Wendy’s and Pizza Hut. Their logo colours would suggest they all strongly subscribe to the ketchup and mustard theory.

Close up of hands holding a hotdog with ketchup and mustard

Hotdog Photo by Peter Secan on Unsplash

“Yellow is a symbol of happiness, excitement, and cheer and red is an attention seeker causing triggers of appetite and hunger. Red makes us feel warm, loved and comfortable which is necessary for a good long meal. Yellow grabs our attention from a long distance and it also increases the speed of our metabolism.

Experts believe that the combination of these two colours create the perfect combination of emotions and feelings to make people feel hungry and spend more time while having a meal.”

Unconscious decision making

Probably 95% of all cognition, all the thinking that drives our decisions and behaviours, occurs unconsciously—and that includes consumer decisions. That’s not to say that the 5% we’re privy to is unimportant—just that marketers overemphasize its importance, because it’s so visible and easy to access. (Harvard Business School professor, Gerald Zaltman)

If humans aren’t as logical as they think they are, and colour can suggest certain emotions it makes sense that colour can be a powerful marketing weapon. While showing rational features and services remain important tapping into an emotional response can get results.

“As the old saying goes – sell the sizzle, not the steak.

Colour in branding

“When brands effectively reach customers on an emotional level, this deeper relationship builds the foundation of brand awareness and can even change shopper habits.” Branding is about making connections to your ideal customers and building a relationship that will affect their buying decisions. Creating a resonance between what you offer and what your customer wants or needs.

Colour is a key part of branding, and colour psychology can be a great help. You need only need to look at how popular blue is for Fortune 500 companies logos. But, let this be tempered by your particular ideal client. Their cultural or social background may change what resonates for them.


Fortune 500 business logos arranged by colour


Pink may be associated with women’s products in general but it could easily be a turn-off for the specific women you want to appeal to.
How we present our businesses or products should resonate with our ideal customers and a good branding exercise will think about colour alongside:

  • What you do (products, services, features)
  • Your background/story
  • Your competition/market
  • Your key messages (Benefits to your client, values)
  • Personality, words and voice
  • Typography and Imagery

If you’d like more information about colour and branding please get in touch.



  1. www.verywellmind.com/color-psychology-2795824
  2. The Psychology of Colour Influences Consumers’ Buying Behaviour – A Diagnostic Study. J Suresh Kumar, Ushus-Journal of Business Management
  3. www.marketingmind.in/know-fast-food-logos-red-yellow
  4. www.inc.com quoting Harvard Business School professor, Gerald Zaltman
  5. https://insightsinmarketing.com/resources/infographics/how-does-color-affect-consumer-behavior/)

As mentioned in my recent blog I’ve recently become involved in a project to co-author The perfect recipe for creating awesome web content. As the title suggests it’s a book about writing content for small business websites. Angela Bensemann and Iona Elwood-Smith approached me to contribute to their project. What started out as just a cover design became a larger undertaking.

While I’m experienced in document design I’ve never worked on a book before. We decided to concentrate on a physical book in an easy-to-hold size (6 x 9 inches or 152 x 229mm), an A4 downloadable PDF version and some bonus A4 PDF worksheets. Unrestricted by epub limitations of an ebook I let my creative hair down and came up with illustrated section breaks, pull-out boxes illustrated with photos and engaging worksheets.

Colourful collage illustration showing a smiling woman, cake and bird

This collage uses free stock images from Rawpixel.com and Unsplash.com

Here are ten of the conventions and elements that I came across while preparing the book for print (some details new to me!):

  1. Cover and Title Page: The title page is often the first right hand side page inside a book and shows the title, author and publisher.
  2. Copyright page: This follows the title page and includes information on the author/s, copyright, publisher, ISBN number (more on this in point 6) and can include design details.
  3. Dedication: A chance to make your mum proud!
  4. Numbering: Odd numbers are always on the right-hand page.
  5. Section heads: Not common in fiction but as this was a non-fiction “how to” title it made sense to go to town with the full colour printing and create fun collage illustrations for each section.
  6. ISBN number: This is a unique International Standard Books Number which in New Zealand is issued by the National Library for free. We found we needed to decide which formats we wanted to produce (hard copy, soft copy, epub etc) and apply within eight weeks of publication. More details are here ((https://natlib.govt.nz/forms/isn))
  7. Barcode: If you’re selling in a retail setting, you’ll need a barcode. There are various types and you’ll need your ISBN number. We took advice from our author friend, Susan Holt, and purchased an EPS file from the Label Shop which I added to the back cover design.
  8. Spine: Don’t forget the spine design. Wording usually runs from the top of the book down. The size of your spine will depend on your page count, the type of paper used, and the type of binding used. Your printer will be able to advise you. We used the handy spine calculator on the Your Books website. This also allowed us to include other measurements to calculate the final cover size of the cover artwork (including the front cover, spine and back cover).
  9. Printing specs: How your book is printed will have an impact on your book design. In our case we chose a digital full colour cover with a matt laminate (the advice was ‘it’s not a romance novel so you don’t need a gloss cover’!) while the inside uses a highspeed inkjet process. As the cost was similar we opted for colour over black and white. It was late in the day that I learnt the inkjet process has limitations compared to normal digital or offset printing. Apparently inkjet printing works better with small areas of bright colours. Not the large areas of paler shades I’d designed. Luckily, we opted for a printed proof which allowed us to check out which design elements would work or need to be tweaked to suit the printing process.
  10. Photography: A professional author photograph will help you look the business! We had a full photoshoot with Juliet Watterson Photographer so we could get some good shots of the authors for the book and also for our Collaboration Station website and social media sites. The photographer is often credited on the copyright page, next to the author photo or back page. Reference to the source of stock images used in the cover art may also be mentioned.
Head and shoulders shot of a woman smiling

Author photograph by Juliet Watterson Photographer (www.julietphotographer.co.nz)

I’ve heard it said that writing a book is only half the job, with printing, marketing and distributing being the other. There is nothing like a final printer’s proof to focus attention on the job at hand. A book, and all the jobs I’m ever involved with, will always benefit from a fresh pair of eyes to check for hidden spelling mistakes, funny spaces and any other inconsistencies. Luckily for us our helper spotted a couple of things that we were able to update before hitting the “approved, ready for print” button.

I hope these tips will help if you’re considering producing a book.


3 smiling women sat at a white table. The middle woman is holding a book.

It’s a cliché but I believe we do business with people we know and like. As a small business I focus on building relationships with others that have complimentary skills and I enjoy working with. But I never imagined I’d be co-authoring “The perfect recipe for creating awesome web content” book this year!

I’ve worked with Angela Bensemann from Halo Communications for over a decade and have been involved in several projects that also included website strategist Iona Elwood-Smith from Grow My Business. So, when Ange and Iona asked if I’d like to contribute to a project they were working on I was keen (even before I heard the details). What started out as just designing a cover for a book they were creating turned into something much more.

2 women sat at a white table lworking together

During the web projects Ange and Iona worked on together, they noticed that people find providing content a real sticking point during the website building process for their businesses. By pooling their respective expertise they could create a valuable “how to” guide ideal for small businesses and start-ups.

They had the writing, strategic and technical aspects covered, and some branding information would be good… as would a nicely designed book cover. Cue Pogo Design.

As the book developed we decided there might be more joint projects on the horizon as we often worked together anyway and that Collaboration Station would be a good home for our collaboration. As with any good team, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Or as Iona says “How cool is collaboration? Someone else does the bits I don’t like!”  We know it’s more fun working together, throwing around ideas and coming up with something new.

“How cool is collaboration? Someone else does the bits I don’t like!”

So, I’ve brought my graphic design and brand expertise to the party. It’s also been a chance for me to get creative and experiment with collage illustrations, art direct an enjoyable photo shoot and develop social media marketing resources. As well as building on my experience of document design and learning some of the conventions of book design. I share some tips I picked up in this blog.

Open laptop showing a home page on the screen

You can pre-order our book and check us out at www.collaborationstation.co.nz or follow our journey on Facebookand Instagram . Who knows what we’ll come up with next?