The Psychology Of Color In Your Branding
Colors are such a crucial element of our day to day lives. Every day we are bombarded by the beauty and psychological effects color has on us. Today I am speaking of color in terms of your branding success. Randomly picking a color scheme you are drawn to as the palette for your business is not generally the best idea. There are psychological reactions people have, and impressions that are made based solely on your color palette choice.
Your palette choice should be based on research and should align with both your brand’s personality as well as the clients you are looking to attract. While a pink and blue color scheme may work well for a pediatrician, could you imagine an oncologist with this color scheme? No, because it does not suit the business mood. Below is a short but concise breakdown of the different colors and their psychological effects to help you strategize a strong color scheme for your business’s brand identity.
Customers generally make an initial judgment on a product within 90 seconds of interaction with that product and about 62%-90% of that judgment is based on color.
Source: “Impact Of Color On Marketing”
While black is not a color it is one of the most used shades in brand identity. Black exudes authority and power. While too much of it can be very overpowering it is timeless and classic. Black also pairs beautifully with every color palette. Black tends to reflect a high-end, luxurious, tempered, and somber sense of business personality. This, of course, is determined by the other colors in the palette.
Positives: Sophistication, Glamour, Power, Authority.
Negatives: Cold, Heavy, Oppression, Menace.
White has and will always be a dominant shade of branding. White is open, pure, and neutral. It pairs beautifully with every palette. Black or gray text on a white background is the easiest to read and lends itself to unpretentious minimalism. White creates an open space and allows room for other elements to take the visually dominant position. Off whites soften things up a bit in case pure white is too sterile for the brand.
Positives: Pure, Clean, Simple, Sophisticated.
Negatives: Sterile, Cold, Emptiness, Elitism.
Grey can be sophisticated and sleek, but depending on the shade it can come off as cheap and dated. I went to a website recently and the entire background was gray, light grey to be exact. Instead of coming off as high end, it looked like it was something out of the 1980s. I loved the 80’s mind you, but it came off as the opening to a Nintendo game. When gray is used as an accent color it can break up content and create a high-end polished feel. I typically avoid lighter shades of grey these days and opt for darker richer greys that are a great alternative to black as it has more depth and is a bit softer.
Positives: Neutral, Reliable, Balance, Strength.
Negatives: Bland, Lack Of Energy, Depression, Lack of Confidence.
Red is the most emotionally intense color. Just seeing it leads to an increase in heart rate and breathing. It is an intense color that must be paired carefully with others so as to not be jarring or hideous. In our world, it also signifies Stop and Danger, so while it is attention-getting, it is not subtle and can be perceived as aggressive. Primary reds tend to be associated with cheap, or sales. For a higher-end brand, a darker red can add elegance to it and avoid the cheap connotation. Red is great for calls to action due to the visual power it has. When used sparingly for important aspects it can be a great option.
Positives: Power, Passion, Energy, Excitement.
Negatives: Danger, Aggression, Warning, Pain.
Blue is one of the most popular colors. Especially in the U.S. Blue causes the opposite physiological reaction that red does. It is cooling, slows the heart rate and breathing. Depending on the blue chosen it can either appear tranquil or cold, calming or depressing. The right shade of blue can lead your brand to be perceived as precise and authoritative. Blue is popular for corporate branding as it is a color loved by many and it helps to create a sense of trust.
Positives: Trust, Loyal, Dependable, Calm.
Negatives: Cold, Aloof, Uncaring, Emotionless.
Green itself symbolizes nature, the color of grass, and leaves. Green is a calming yet refreshing color. Light green is seen as bold and lively, while darker greens are masculine and imply wealth. It is the color of money. Lighter greens are more playful and fun and evoke feelings of peace and playfulness. We tend to use darker greens for luxury brands as it implies wealth. But it is important to use the right shade, the wrong shade of dark green can evoke greed and envy.
Positives: Health, Hope, Growth, Prosperity.
Negatives: Boredom, Stagnation, Envy, Greed.
Yellow is an attention grabber. It is considered a positive uplifting color, but some people really do not like yellow. In a branding color palette, depending on the mood you’re are going for, be sure to temper yellow and be careful to not overpower the eyes as it is the most difficult on the eyes. But when used correctly it denotes happiness, creativity, optimism, and warmth.
Positive Keywords: Creativity, Friendliness, Confidence, Warmth.
Negative Keywords: Fear, Frustration, Caution, Anxiety.
Historically purple has been the color of royalty, it denotes luxury and sophistication. It is an introverted color and lends itself to meditation and contemplation. Hence why it is used frequently by spiritual/holistic brands. The shade of purple really matters. Darker purples really evoke wisdom and luxury. Lighter purple can look cheap and immature.
Positives: Wisdom, Luxury, Wealth, Spirituality, Sophistication.
Negatives: Introverted, Decadent, Moody, Inferiority.
Maybe orange is the new black. Orange in branding has been making its dent over the past few years. Having always loved orange it makes me happy to see this color come into vogue. Being a combination of Red and Yellow makes orange embody aspects of both. Warmth, abundance, and fun are just a few of the words that describe the effect orange has on the human psyche. But beware, too much orange can imply a lack of seriousness and intellect. Also good to note is that many women dislike orange, so if your target market is women then you may want to go with a different color.
Positives: Courage, Confidence, Warmth, Friendly.
Negatives: Frustration, Ignorance, Immaturity, Sluggish.
Solid and grounding, men often favor brown more than women. It is the color of earth and one of the most widely seen colors in nature. There are obviously some downsides to brown, it is the color of some things that don’t have a positive connotation. When used in moderation and for a brand where it makes sense it is associated with strength, maturity, and reliability.
Positives: Nature, Reliable, Grounding, Earth.
Negatives: Humorless, Heavy, Sad, Dirty.
Teal is a combination of blue and a little bit of yellow, sitting in the color spectrum between blue and green. Teal embodies the calm, trust, and tranquility of blue and the uplifting energy of yellow. One of the few colors that can help you feel calm and invigorated at the same time. It heightens creativity and sensitivity as well as aiding concentration and clarity.
While blues are calming, light blue adds a bit of positivity and playfulness to any design. While darker blues can portray power and seriousness, a light blue portrays the qualities of tranquility, understanding, and vibrancy. The selection of light blue is very important depending on the brand as light and baby blues can be seen as childish and immature.
Indigo represents intuition and the opening of perception. Indigo is a deep blue and violet. It is a powerful color that portrays integrity and wisdom.
Finding the right color palette for your business can be hard work. It is a research-driven endeavor, not something to be chosen simply because of personal preferences. And this is just the effects of individual colors, things change once we start talking about the use of color pairings and palettes. Have a question about what color to choose? Feel free to reach out to us.