Today I thought it would be both fun and useful to talk about color psychology and what it means for our brands!
Color psychology in branding is used by every business out there- but it takes a solid understanding of what the different colors represent psychologically in order to use this tactic of branding to our advantage!
I want to kick things off by first defining aesthetics:
“Aesthetics is a philosophical concept dealing with the perception, understanding and appreciation of beauty.” (That definition is straight out of my Media Aesthetics notes, circa 2014 that I dug up for this blog haha).
How our brands appear to others is important. Because although people have different options on aesthetics, we’re still able to tap into client's feelings psychologically to appeal more to them!
And one of the biggest concepts in aesthetics is COLOR.
So I’m here to give you a basic rundown of each color and the psychological effects it has on people so whether you’re picking out your brand colors for the first time or maybe thinking about a rebrand, you’ll be able to choose wisely!
Red is a color that denotes passion, aggression, heightened awareness and danger.
This is why you see red commonly used in emergency services like Red Cross, fire departments, Emergency signs, “the big red emergency button” and more.
It is uncommon to find this color in nature and its association with romance also means that there is an increased response to the color red as a fragrance!
Food also appears more appealing in a red environment, which is why you see it in places like McDonald’s Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s, Coca Cola and more!
Orange is a color often associated with affordability, is a “declassifier” (or “common” color) and denotes second class. (There’s a reason besides it being bright that prisoners tend to wear those orange jumpsuits…)
But don’t be afraid of using orange! It can be a great color that alternatively, inspires activity, vigor and wholesomeness, youth, enthusiasm, and is associated with adventure and excitement! It’s one of my own brand colors!
Big brands with orange brand colors are Nickelodeon, Orangetheory Fitness and Fanta - all brands having to do with energy, enthusiasm, and excitement!
Fun fact: yellow is the fastest color the eye can receive but it takes the longest to process 🤷
Fun facts aside, in terms of color psychology in branding for yellow, it IS one of the colors that is noticed FIRST and stands out (Lookin’ at you and your yellow arches, McDonald’s).
Because of its ability to be noticed first, yellow is another common color found in emergency situations or ones that require some warning like Caution and Danger signs. The ambulances in England are yellow too!
On the brighter side of things, yellow represents positivity, health and wellness, happiness, sun and light!
Another great color that signals life and wellness is green! As you can likely reason why, green is used a lot in brands and things pertaining to nature and by extension, also healing.
Green represents fertility and therefore is also a more feminine color than masculine.
It is a comfortable color -just as nature surrounds us and is comforting.
On the negative side, green can represent jealousy, envy, mildew and decay. Basically when it’s in a place where it shouldn’t be, green is bad. It is also a color associated with war (thanks to tanks, camouflage and uniforms).
In terms of color psychology in branding, the green of Hulu is meant to reflect comfort, the green in H&R to represent money, the green of John Deere nature, and the list goes on...
Blue is one of my favorite colors and also has a ton of psychological connotations depending on the lightness or darkness of it!
(We could also get into color saturation, tints, tones and shades and how those can be used even further in a psychological capacity, but I don’t want to overwhelm you all for now!
Let me know if you all would like a part 2 to dig deeper into more specifics on color psychology in branding by hitting the “reply” button at the bottom of the blog!)
Light blue is associated with youth, activity and coldness.
Darker blues like navy are dignified and allude to wealth, trustworthiness and loyalty.
Blue is the strongest color after red and for that reason can also commonly represent depression, alienation and sadness.
Since we don’t typically eat or drink the color blue (unless you're Percy Jackson), it can be used in our fridge lights to keep us from eating a lot!
Blue is also a color for inspiration, creativity, fantasy and calmness.
Blue is commonly used in branding in the tech industry (think Samsung, Intel, Facebook, HP and Zoom) to denote trustworthiness, intelligence and peacefulness!
Purple has a very prominent history of being associated with richness, wealth, sophistication and royalty as it used to be very expensive to make!
It also represents power, respect and leadership. It is an exotic color that is both playful and impulsive.
Adversely, purple can represent insanity, madness and nightmares. (Think Mad Hatter in his purple hat). It makes sense, seeing as it's a combination of red (passion) and blue (sadness and depression).
Hallmark cards (yeah, the really expensive ones) and Cadbury chocolates (also typically more expensive) are great examples of the purple color psychology in branding!
Pink is my second brand color and although it is typically associated with being delicate or non-aggressive, pink is also a pleasing, gentle, sweet color as well!
It represents femininity, romance and is a slightly more subdued form of red.
Earth, utility, richness, rustic, sincerity and honesty are some of brown’s more common psychological meanings! It is a no-nonsense color and is very approachable due to its common-ness.
It is less serious of a color and can also represent dirt or being dirty.
Despite black technically being the absence of color, it still has all sorts of psychological meanings!
Black is a color that denotes absorption, death, nighttime, evil, wealth and also elegance.
It can also represent power and is a color that can be seen as authoritative and sophisticated.
It is also a generally neutralizing color!
Lots of very high-end brands use black like Chanel, Prada, Michael Kors and Gucci to portray elegance and sophistication.
White has a tendency to be associated with purity, virginity, and innocence. It can be either very expensive or very inexpensive. It is a color that reflects heat and is therefore seen as very cold and sterile.
It embodies calmness, delicacy, peacefulness and sophistication.
It is another neutral color alongside black!
Grey is another “in-between” color like white and black that has a few contradictory psychological meanings:
The absence of color in grey can inspire creativity in an environment and be classy and exclusive (like a grey suit, grey is associated with success in clothing), while also signifying gloom (think cloudy skies), unpleasantness and also be off-putting when it comes to food or nature.
Brands like Apple and Mercedes Benz use the “classiness” of grey in their logos!
There we have it. Does your mind feel blown right now? Cause mine totally did the first time I learned about color psychology in branding.
I hope that this juicy info is able to help you make a decision that feels right for your brand!
If you're looking for information on more unique colors like teal, periwinkle, peach, etc. all you need to do is look at the two colors of the rainbow that make up those colors! For example blue and green make up teal, while pink, orange and white make up peach, etc.
Now on the flipside, please don’t freak out if you suddenly just learned that one of your brand colors has a connotation that was unintended. Rules are meant to be broken and in the famous words of Captain Barbosa: “They’re more like guidelines, anyways!”
Feel free to check out my Pinterest Board full of color combo ideas and inspiration for your brand here and be sure to let me know if you’d like a part two to dive in deeper to color psychology in branding!