The Art of Colour Theory in Retail Displays

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The Art of Colour Theory in Retail Displays

First impressions matter, especially when it comes to retail displays. The first thing that usually grabs attention is colour – that’s why it pays to think strategically about the use of colour in your display. It could be the main driver for some customers and can make all the difference in selling your products!

At Merit, we fully understand the significance of colours in creating powerful visual experiences that resonate with consumers on a subconscious level.

Keep reading to explore the fascinating world of colour theory in retail displays.

The Psychology of Colour

It’s helpful to have a basic understanding of the psychology of colours before diving into how colour theory can be incorporated into retail displays. Each colour has the ability to make us feel certain emotions and perceive things differently.

Making use of this idea in the design process of our retail displays can have a significant impact on customer behaviour. The same principle is used when products themselves, as well as their packaging, are being designed and developed.

By taking a closer look at the meaning of the three primary colours we can gain a better understanding of how this works in practice.



It is often linked to energy, passion, and urgency. This makes it a popular choice for clearance sales or promotions due to its ability to stimulate appetite and impulse buying. If used sparingly, red accents can create a sense of excitement and urgency, prompting customers to take action.


This colour exudes warmth, optimism, and cheerfulness. It is also a practical choice for highlighting discounts or limited-time offers because it attracts attention and stimulates mental activity. Brands can incorporate ‘pops’ of yellow into their retail displays to draw customer attention to special promotions or new arrivals, creating a sense of excitement and anticipation.


Blue is a colour that represents trust, calmness, and professionalism. It is perfect for brands that want to convey competence and dependability. In retail displays, a soothing blue backdrop can create a relaxing atmosphere that makes customers feel at ease and encourages them to explore your products/services.

By including specific colours in retail displays, brands can create retail displays that make their customers feel a certain way about their brand identity and their products. It will encourage customers to make a purchase or take other actions depending on the aims of their marketing campaigns.

Read about the Psychology Behind Retail Displays

The Power of Colour Combinations

Even though every colour has a unique meaning, colour combinations can be powerful and create new meanings and associations.

Various colour schemes, such as monochromatic, complementary, or analogous palettes, can bring on specific emotions and create visually appealing displays that attract customers.

Thinking about the use of colour in your retail display can also be elevated further when you consider how the colour of the product and brand interact with each other and the display itself to further promote actions and emotions.

Here are a few examples of the most traditional colour schemes:

Monochromatic Colours

Using multiple shades of one colour, ranging from lighter tints to darker shades, can create a feeling of sophistication and elegance.

This approach helps brands to present their products with clarity and focus. By using monochromatic displays, a sense of visual harmony and simplicity can be achieved, highlighting the beauty and craftsmanship of the featured products.

Complementary Colours

Using colours opposite each other on the colour wheel, like red and green or blue and orange, can create a high contrast and visually captivating display.

This technique can benefit busy retail environments where you want to grab customers’ attention to your products. It’s a bold approach that can make your displays stand out and command the attention they deserve.

Analogous Colours

Selecting hues adjacent to each other on the colour wheel, such as blue, blue-green, and green, creates a sense of harmony and cohesion, ideal for conveying a unified brand message.

Analogous colour schemes can create a sense of tranquillity and balance, inviting customers to relax and explore their options.

Analogous Colours

Colour combinations are essential to consider as part of a wider brand and how each product line and campaign is presented. The use of colour can create calm or even chaos. It may seem strange to purposely use colour clash through mismatch presenting customers with intended discomfort through visual dissonance. This strategy will still attract customer attention and can be a great motivator for action, as the customer may perceive the purchase will alleviate the discomfort.

In addition to these traditional colour schemes, there are other modern, creative approaches to colour utilisation in retail displays:

Triadic Colours

Choosing three evenly spaced colours around the colour wheel creates a vibrant and dynamic display with a balanced visual appeal.

For example, combining red, blue, and yellow can create a lively and energetic atmosphere that captures attention.

Triadic Colours

Tetradic Colours

Selecting two pairs of complementary colours creates a rich and diverse colour scheme that offers plenty of opportunities for contrast and visual interest.

Tetradic colours

By carefully balancing these colours, retailers can create memorable and harmonious displays.

Split-Complementary Colours

Choosing a base colour and then selecting two colours that are adjacent to its complementary colour creates a colour scheme that is both bold and balanced.

Split-Complementary Colours

This approach allows retailers to incorporate contrasting colours while maintaining a sense of harmony and cohesion.

By understanding the principles of colour harmony and balance, retailers can create displays that catch the eye and convey a cohesive brand narrative that customers feel and experience at a subconscious level.

Expert Colour-Guidance for Effective Retail Displays 

The study of colour theory is a fascinating topic that offers valuable insights into how we can use colour to influence perception and draw attention. By understanding the scientific principles that explain the properties of different colours and tones, we can make informed decisions when it comes to using colour in various contexts, such as art, design, marketing, and brand awareness.

To avoid unintended results, seeking professional guidance is strongly advised. A well-chosen colour palette can bring desired results faster and with fewer resources.

Contact us if you need help creating captivating retail displays or just seeking professional advice.