Color plays one of the most important roles in the construction of our visual world. It’s also one of the most visible parts of a company’s brand. When we see a color, our brain instantly begins to make interpretations, build associations, and develop impressions. Lucky for us, tons of research has been done to understand the different emotions, feelings, and actions colors can elicit: this study is called color psychology.
Knowing what feelings and emotions different colors evoke can help you build a brand that accurately reflects your business’s values and builds a positive perception in the eyes of your consumers. And the more favorable someone views your brand, the more likely they are to buy (which can translate into more cash money for you)!
Now, let’s take a look at some popular colors and some of the common emotions, associations, and perceptions they elicit.
primary colors & the feelings they elicit
Is your company bold and exciting? Are you an authority in your field? Red is a very popular color for brands that are game-changers because it’s considered a power color. Think of some brands that use red in their branding: Tesla, Netflix, Coca-Cola, LEGO. These are some of the most recognized brands around the world and have all done something revolutionary in their industry. Red is a power color because it’s dynamic and bold, catching the viewer’s attention. It’s a color that your consumers remember because it sticks out from surrounding colors, which makes for great brand recognition when it’s used as a focal color. If your business can be personified as an exciting, bold game-changer, red is a great color to complement your vibe. If you are working red into your new brand or a rebrand, be sure to use one or two soft, contrasting colors or text so you don’t overwhelm your audience.
Yellow is another color that’s an attention-grabber, but for a much different reason: yellow is more scarcely used. While the color is most often associated with positive feelings like confidence, energy, enthusiasm, and hope, it’s also common to be associated with some negative attributes like defeat and cowardice. However, yellow is one of the most visible colors to the human eye and has been shown to resonate with the left side of our brain (which is the logical, rational side). If your brand is confident and offers a logical and practical solution to the problems of your consumers, the color yellow can be very fitting for your brand. Pairing yellow with strong, complementing colors can ensure you build a lasting first impression with your customers.
Blue is often thought of as a universally-liked color. If you want to demonstrate that your product or company is reliable and responsible, blue is the perfect color to do that! It commands a calm authority, as opposed to the more dominating authority of red. And because of its universality, blue can be paired with so many colors, allowing you to build a brand that closely matches your company’s persona. A few notable companies that use blue in their primary branding are Dell, Facebook, and American Express. While these brands are very minimalistic, don’t be timid with your color pairings! Here’s one practical consideration to make if you’re thinking about using blue in your branding: blue is sometimes associated with something unappetizing. If you are in the food or beverage industry, it might be a good idea to use blue as a secondary color in your brand (unless your brand is Blue Apron).
secondary colors & our associations
When we see green, we think of money and nature. But there’s a lot more to green than just trees made of money! Green is most commonly associated with feelings of growth, safety
Purple is an interesting secondary color because it encompasses the stability and responsibility of blue and the boldness and excitement of red. While the most common single-word association for the color purple is royalty, purple is also associated with feelings of creativity, magic, and mystery. This duality of purple lends to its use in a variety of brands, from Taco Bell to Hallmark. Purple can be used to show that a company is luxurious and sophisticated. On the other hand, purple can be seen as a playful color full of imagination. Many different brand archetypes can advantageously use purple in their branding. An interesting discovery about purple is that women are more likely to dislike purple than men.
Like purple, orange inherits some of its associations from the primary colors used to create it: blue and yellow. It is most often associated with feelings of enthusiasm, fascination, and cheerfulness. Like red and yellow, orange also catches the consumer’s attention. So, if your company’s brand personality can be described as fun and energetic, orange would be a fitting color to work into your brand. A single brand that comes to mind who uses orange in their branding and is fun and energetic is Nickelodeon. I mean, who wouldn’t call sliming employees fun?
using colors in your branding
Your brand is one of the most important components of your business. It needs to be thoughtfully and methodically created to ensure it accurately represents your business and builds a favorable perception. With so much competition in the market, something as simple as the colors in your logo can sway your brand in the wrong direction in the eyes of your consumers. When developing a brand for your new business or going through a rebrand, be sure to carefully consider color theory and evaluate the feelings and associations we assign to colors. Then, use that knowledge to build a brand that your consumers will fall in love with, keeping in mind that things like culture, gender, and personal experiences add another level of complexity to color theory.
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