Color is a powerful tool in your branding toolkit. The colors you choose can evoke emotions, convey your brand's personality, and create visual unity.
When you intentionally select color, you can help your brand stand out while reinforcing your core values. In this post, we'll explore the psychology behind color in branding and how to make effective color choices for your brand.
While our responses to color can be personal, some colors tend to evoke similar reactions.
- Warm colors like red, orange, and yellow energize you and excite emotions ranging from confidence and enthusiasm to anger and defiance.
- Cool colors like blue, purple, and green have soothing, calming effects. They are associated with calm, trust, and serenity.
Different shades can also alter emotional responses:
- Light blues and greens relax you, signify growth, and promote healing.
- Darker shades feel more traditional, professional, and serious to you.
- Vivid, saturated colors feel fun and youthful to you.
- Muted, dusty shades feel subtle, elegant, and restrained.
- 85% of shoppers place color as a primary reason they buy a particular product.
- People make subconscious judgments about products and brands within 90 seconds of initial viewing and 62‐90% of that assessment is based on color alone.
Your brand's color palette helps convey its personality:
- Fun, playful brands like YouTube(red) and Nickelodeon (orange) use bright, primary colors.
- Luxury brands like Tiffany (robin egg blue) and Cadillac (dark metallics) rely on bold blues and dark metallics that feel rich and sophisticated to you.
- Whole Foods and animal care brands prefer greens and earth tones that represent natural, organic qualities to you.
While one or two colors make up your brand's primary palette, adding accent colors creates visual interest for you. Secondary colors work best when they complement the main shades.
- Zappos uses a variety of bright, playful colors that reinforce their energetic, friendly brand image for you.
Color creates visual unity for your brand across touchpoints like logos, websites, packaging, and signage.
- Using consistent colors and palettes keeps your brand recognizable.
- Different shades can designate specific product categories or lines for you.
- Hotels.com uses various shades of blue in all branding to maintain cohesion.
- Department stores often use red for beauty, blue for menswear, or black for formal wear. Customers quickly learn to associate certain colors with parts of the brand.
Several considerations go into selecting your brand's colors beyond emotional responses and visual cohesion:
- Cultural meanings
- Industry norms
- Accessibility standards
Certain colors have culturally-specific symbolism:
- Red and gold indicate prosperity in China
- Purple signals royalty in Europe to you
You can choose whether to conform to competitors or stand out with your own signature shades.
You must also ensure your colors meet web accessibility standards.
- Low contrast or relying solely on color cues make sites difficult to decipher for color blind or visually impaired users.
- Using both color and non-color design elements improves access for all.
- Nearly 10% of men and 1% of women have some form of color blindness.
With so many factors at play, research helps you make smart color selections:
- Surveys and focus groups can reveal cultural associations, industry norms, and reactions to potential palettes for you.
- Analytics provide insights into which colors viewers respond to best.
- Visual inspiration from your target markets can uncover prominent, relevant colors.
- Competitor analysis provides direction - align or contrast with their palettes.
- A/B testing – Test different color scheme. How? when testing color options, be mindful of budget limitations. Consider using the cheapest website builders to keep costs lowfor mockup designs and A/B testing pages. Try out a few color options with samples of ads, website pages, product packaging, etc. See which colors perform best in action.
Benchmarking gives context while leaving room for your unique vision.
Let's look at two examples of brands that use color psychology strategically:
- Uses red and white for a bold, eye-catching palette.
- Red connotes excitement and drives impulse purchases for you.
- The red evokes friendly retailers like Coca-Cola and YouTube for you.
- White provides a crisp, clean backdrop lifting the vibrant red.
- Employs a blend of warm greens, earthy browns, and natural wood tones.
- The greens signify health, freshness, and growth to you.
- Woods and ambers ground the palette in a wholesome vibe.
- Colors reference farms, produce, eco-friendly goods reinforcing the organic brand mission for you.
Both brands have established strong identities through intentional, meaning-rich color palettes targeted to their unique audiences and missions.
- Color choice in branding has a psychological impact conveying emotion, personality, and meaning to you.
- Your brand's primary color palette establishes recognition for you.
- Research cultural associations, industry norms, competitor brands to inform your strategic color choices.
- Optimize colors for accessibility following standards and best practices.
- Align palette choices with your brand personality and target audience interests for maximum resonance.
Through considering the psychology behind colors, you can make informed decisions when designing your visual identity. A thoughtful color palette helps craft a cohesive, recognizable, and strategically meaningful brand for you.