Color psychology in branding is a fascinating subject to explore. If you were given the choice to pick a color for your new car or to repaint your home, what color would that be? In all probability, a select color would spring to mind as if it were the obvious choice. But, why that particular choice of color? Did you know that you could be pre-wired or groomed to resonate with that color?
You see, color plays a powerful role in our lives. Our choice in color tends to stem from past experiences, current mood, a reflection of ourselves or how we’d like to be perceived by others. We interpret products, people, locations, spaces, etc. in much the same way.
That is why marketing and branding have made thoughtful use of color when designing effective communication strategies with customers. Communications by means of logos, font colors, accent colors, messaging templates, backdrops, props, even packaging and retail store designs, all leverage the influence of color to create the desired impact.
However, it is important to understand that the effects of color differ amongst people. Factors such as gender, age, climate, situation or culture can influence how an individual interprets color. For instance, while white is associated with purity and cleanliness, it is considered symbolic of death in some countries.
For the most part, studies have provided some generalized assumptions of what colors mean and how they appeal to people. Let’s look at a few.
Red: Associated with energy, action, power, intensity, excitement, love and passion. It also signifies danger and caution. Red also attracts attention very easily. Example: Beats, Target, Coke Cola.
Yellow: Linked with happiness, intellect, and cheerfulness. Yellow tends to have a warming effect but if overused it can be counterproductive. It is also associated with cowardice. It can be fatiguing to the eye when overused but can be attention grabbing when used within the right setting and in moderation. Example: Best Buy, Ikea, Nikon.
Orange: Creates a feeling of enthusiasm, warmth, energy, joy, sunshine, encouragement and creativity. It combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. Example: Home Depot, JBL, Sound Cloud.
Blue: Considered a non-threatening color, it is often associated with stability and reliability. It reflects a sense of calm, sincerity and inspiration. But, it also has a tendency to indicate sadness and loneliness. Example: Samsung, Facebook, Dell.
Green: The color of money, it also signifies tranquility, good luck, health, calming, nature, trust, faith, freshness, and fertility. On the other hand, it could indicate jealousy, spoilage or envy. Example: Whole Foods, Starbucks, Holiday Inn.
Purple: Combines the stability of blue and the energy of red. It is associated with wisdom, nobility, luxury, symbolism, and mystery. Examples: Cadbury, Yahoo, Aetna.
For the purpose of this article, we have concentrated on the primary brand logo colors. It must be acknowledged that all brands typically have a Black and White logo which is used under specific circumstances. That being said, there are some brands whose primary colors are Black or White.
Black: Connected with affluence, power, sophistication, elegance, formality, and mystery. But it is also linked to grief, evil and fear. Example: Nike, Adidas, Calvin Klien.
White: Often used to reflect peace, purity, innocence, simplicity, and cleanliness. It also depicts cold, bland, sterility and emptiness. Example: Tesla. Mini, The North Face.
Life under the influence of color
Color psychology is still a growing field of study. It is safe to say that color stimulates our brain in some way, but it is also open to interpretation as indicated by the positive and negative associations discussed.
Again, our interpretations are largely governed by gender, age, culture, religious beliefs, past experience, emotional states and a host of other factors.
Yet, there are some universal truths held about certain colors and good marketers conduct significant research before putting things into practice.