When you look at a logo or a product, what is the first thing you consider about it? For most people the first factor is color. Although it seems like such a small insignificant detail, each color evokes certain perceptions and emotions. For example, orange is associated with good value and a fun and playful environment. This color would not make sense for a serious corporate high end office. Before deciding what color you want to represent your brand take a look at what each color signifies. There is a psychological factor behind each color.
What is the Psychology of Color
The psychology of color is the study of hues and its relationship with human behavior. Color can influence people on a subconscious level and cause them to perceive items in certain ways. There have been several studies that show there is a major correlation between color and human perception and behavior. Each color has attributes attached to it that evoke feelings in people across the world, even in different languages and cultures.
Red is often associated with intensity and passion. It evokes excitement, strong emotions, and desire but also, power, drama, and danger. The color is attention grabbing and inspires very quick reactions in people. For this reason it is often used to promote sales, as it creates a sense of urgency. Red is, also, encourages appetites, making it a perfect choice for food businesses.
Orange is fun and playful and is associated with being a good value. This color stimulates mental activity while evoking happy, cheerful, and positive emotions.
Yellow expresses fun energy, positivity, and happiness. This color makes people feel alive, energetic, and fresh. Because it is so bright, it is often used to grab attention of window shoppers.
Green is associated with nature and freshness. It works great with eco-friendly brands. Studies have shown, the color is linked with broader thinking, creative thought, and increased productivity.
Blue evokes trust, dependability, and loyalty. It is used by many popular social media sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter) as it represents communication and stability. The color is, also, often used by banks and financial institutions.
Purple has been historically representative of royalty and nobility. It evokes the feelings of glamour, power, wealth, and dependability.
Pink is often perceived as feminine and evokes loving, sweet, and nurtured emotions. Dark tones are feisty and fun while the lighter tones are seen as sweet and gentle. The lighter tones, also, have a calming effect.
White has a very modern look. It represents purity, serenity, and cleanliness. White is actually the not a color but instead the absence of color. While the color evokes positive emotions, too much of it can lead to boredom due to lack of stimulation. White looks great in providing negative space in design.
Gray is a conservative and traditional color. It is often seen in corporate and tech companies. It is a very popular color however it is often voted as the least popular color and can be viewed as dull.
Black is seen as a symbol of power and authority. Like purple, this color is perceived as luxurious, sophisticated, and elegant. The down side of using black is that there is some negative association, with it being associated with taboo and gloom.
Why It Is Important
Without even realizing it, the brain makes snap decisions almost instantly based solely on color. According to a study 62% to 90% of our feelings on a product are determined by the color alone. Such a simple thing as color can evoke emotions, grab attention, and even stimulate or suppress appetite. With color playing such a large part in making up people’s minds on products, logos, websites, and brands it is imperative that you choose the right colors to comprise your brand. If you are a financial institution it probably would not be the best decision to make your logo in a color that is perceived as playful and youthful. There is a psychological factor behind colors and it is important that your brands colors appeal to your ideal customer. When choosing your branding colors, make sure to consider the psychology of color.
What Does Your Brand Represent
Before deciding on your brands colors consider what your brand represents and the audience you are trying to attract. Sit down and actually right out a brand statement, mission statement, target market analysis, and vision statement. From there you can determine what the totality of your brand represents and what colors you should use to match your goals. It can be difficult but deciding on your niche and what type of image you want to project to attract your target market can make or break your business. Take the time to really determine what the message you want your target market to receive and how you should communicate it, even down to the color.
Determine if your brand is youthful and fun, aimed at attracting teenagers. Or is it mature and conservative, aimed at demure women. Or is it bold and masculine, aimed at active men in their late twenties and thirties. These are the details you must know when deciding brand colors.
If your brand is an eco-friendly camping community consider using green. If your ideal audience is conservative might be best to contemplate using gray. If your audience is mostly men then maybe pink is not the best color to choose as it is seen as feminine. These simple color decisions can determine how your brand is perceived.
Colors and the Brands That Chose Them
Consider what each brand represents and how the color depicts that. Notice how each brands color aligns with what the company represents. How does your brand fit in? Is it currently using colors that match the message you are trying to send to your audience?
Red - Target, Red Bull, Coca Cola, Puma
Orange -Home Depot, Payless, Blogger, Nickelodeon,
Yellow - Best Buy, Post-It, McDonalds, Ferrari
Green - Starbucks, Whole Foods, BP, John Deere
Blue - IBM, American Express, WordPress, General Electric
Purple - Yahoo, Cadbury, Taco Bell, Aussie
Pink - Barbie, Bourjois Paris, T-Mobile, Baskin Robbins
Gray - Apple, Lexus, Swarovski,
Black - Blackberry, Yves Saint Laurent, CBS, DC Shoes
Choosing a Color Scheme
Once you have decided on the type of emotions and energy you want to evoke in your audience, you may want to pick a color scheme to help guide your branding decisions. Your logo may be red but you need other complementary colors to make your branding well. These colors should, also, be chosen based on psychological reasons. However, they should be put together with color harmony rules in mind as well, to ensure a balanced design. There are several main color schemes to help guide you in your decision, including; monochromatic, complementary, triad, and more. I went into more detail in my post, Color Theory 102: Choosing a Color Palette for Your Brand.
Thinking Outside the Box
Although taking psychology of color into account is important, don’t let it stop you from breaking the mold and defying the rules. You can be a trend setter and use a color that you love that does not always represent what your brand represents and make it into something completely different. Use the psychology of color as a guide not a rule book.
Some of my favorite quotes about color
"Sunset is still my favorite color, and rainbow is second." -Mattie Stepanek
"Red is such an interesting color to correlate with emotion, because it's on both ends of the spectrum. On one end you have happiness, falling in love, infatuation with someone, passion, all that. On the other end, you've got obsession, jealousy, danger, fear, anger and frustration." -Taylor Swift
"Pink isn't just a color, it's an attitude!" -Miley Cyrus
"Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises." -Pedro Calderon de la Barca
"Life is about using the whole box of crayons." -RuPaul
How has the psychology of color affected the way you chose your brand colors? What are your brand colors and why did you chose them?