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The World's Favourite Colour

At Hydra colour is a big thing for us. Our graphics and video teams are fascinated by how colours can change the way we feel and ultimately evoke emotions in people. As a marketing agency, understanding colour and how it is perceived is integral to most of the things we do. In other fields, such as printing or paper companies, it means everything.

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Last week we were lucky enough to have in the office Gareth Davies from G.F Smith, one of the world’s most respected fine paper companies. Gareth came in to share with us a study G.F Smith has completed to find 'the world's favourite colour'. G.F Smith has been fascinated by colour since it produced its first edition of Colourplan way back in 1936. Colourplan is an ever-expanding paper range in a variety of colours. Back in 1936, there were just a few colours available in the range, reflective of the time. The first colours featured were 'smoke', 'bagdad brown' and 'china white'. Year on year they've been working on creating new colours to add to their Colourplan collection. The book now contains over fifty colours and has become the benchmark collection for Britain's creative industry.

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The Study

G.F Smith wanted a new colour for the next edition of their Colourplan. This made them ask themselves: 'we wonder what the world's favourite colour is'. The problem with asking a person for their favourite colour is that there are only a limited number of colours an average person can describe. For example dark red, light red, medium red, etc. G.F. Smith countered this by building a website whereby the user could drag their cursor around to make the screen change colour, and then place a marker exactly where their favourite colour was. Because of how specific you could be it meant that there were more unique answers and an average could be made to determine the world's favourite colour.

There were over 26,000 submissions coming from over 100 different countries across the world. This meant averages of countries and regions favourite colours could also be determined, and differences identified depending on where they lived and what they were used to seeing. To determine the average, G F Smith used the K-means clustering algorithm, which is an algorithm designed to find groups in data with the number of groups represented by the variable K. The algorithm assigns each unique entry to one of the K groups based on the features that are provided. Data points are clustered based on feature similarity.

The Results

The results of the study were collated and analysed by Professor Anna Franklin and Ian McGill, two leaders in their fields. They analysed the data in a variety of ways to identify different trends. In this article we've focused solely on the world's favourite colour, however, if you want to read more about some of the other findings, check out the link in the summary section below.

They found that the nation’s favourite colours in order from best to worst were: green, blue, red, purple, yellow, orange, pink, black, and finally, white.

Every variant of these colours were recorded, but to determine one colour that represented the results as a whole they did an average of all of the entries that chose one of the two favourite colours – green or blue.

The world's favourite colour was officially finalised. And here it is:

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The Psychology

When Gareth talked us through the study and showed us the results, he went on to talk a bit more about the psychology behind colours. As mentioned earlier, when we see a colour, often it evokes a particular feeling. For example, red is often associated with either warmth or danger, purple with wealth and nobleness, and blue with calmness. G.F Smith goes into a lot more detail about the psychology of different colours on their website, but for now, we'll focus on the colour in question and why it did so well.

It has been observed in previous colour studies that human beings commonly prefer blue or green colours. This is believed to be because of the objects or surfaces that are associated with these colours. It has been suggested that people associate things like the sea, sky and nature with blue and green colours, and as generally people like these things, the colours are also liked.


We were fortunate to have such expert insights into what we found to be a really interesting study, and one that revealed a lot of useful information. Most people underestimate the power of colour, however the big brands don't. All the biggest brands in the world have picked, changed and tweaked their colours over the years to instil the emotions they want in their target market. Have you ever stepped back and thought about what your brand's colours represent? Maybe you should.

If you want to find out about the further findings of the study, or if you just want a bit more information on the world's favourite colour, check out G.F. Smith's world's favourite colour website here.

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