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 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 experts have made thoughtful use of color when designing identities and effective communication strategies. Communication by means of logos, font colors, accent colors, messaging templates, backdrops, props, packaging and retail store designs. All leverage the influence of color to create the desired sensory 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.
Color psychology is the fountain from which branding experts create brand identities. For the most part, studies have provided some generalized assumptions of what colors mean and why they appeal to people. Though not limited to branding, color psychology is widely referenced in industries like fashion, interior design and automotive. With that said, let’s discuss a few colors.
Red: Associated with energy, action, power, intensity, excitement, love and passion. It also signifies danger and caution. Red also attracts attention very easily. Examples of brands that leverage the color red : Levi’s, Target, Coke Cola, H&M, ACE and Canon.
Yellow: Linked with happiness, intellect, and cheerfulness. Yellow tends to have a warming effect but can be counterproductive if overused. It is also associated with cowardice. It can be fatiguing to the eye when used in excess but can be attention grabbing when used within the right setting and in moderation. Examples: Ikea, Nikon, Mailchimp, Hertz and CAT.
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, Nickelodeon, TNT and Harley-Davidson.
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, Intel, Ford and SAP.
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, Animal Planet and British Petroleum.
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, Monster, Twitch and Wonka.
For the purpose of this article, we have concentrated on the primary logo colors. Some are combinations of two or more colors. Many of whom incorporate white and black.
While all brands typically have black and white logo variants which are used under specific circumstances, there are some brands whose primary colors are in fact 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 Klein, The New York Times, Uber and Chanel.
White: Often used to reflect peace, purity, innocence, simplicity, and cleanliness. It also depicts cold, bland, sterility and emptiness. White logos are almost always placed against a secondary color and may be represented in the above examples.
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 in this article.
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.
Hi! I’m Sheldon. For over ten years I’ve worked with brands and private labels bringing some pretty awesome products to market. I’ve worked on research-based product development and marketing to deliver the total package.
I’m instantly drawn towards products that are deep-rooted in consumer research. The type that ends up being simple and intuitive, yet profound and potentially disruptive.
I’m equally passionate about brand strategy. I believe that the only thing that trumps a good product is a brand that connects with people on a deeper level.
If this resonates with you and your current need, I’d love to hear more about it.