The Psychology of Color in Branding & Marketing
Humans are extremely visual creatures. We have 5 senses at our disposal to experience the world around us, yet we use our sight to perceive up to 80% of our impressions. Because of this, color plays a huge role in influencing how we feel about something, which makes choosing your brand’s color a pretty big deal.
In a study titled “Impact of color on marketing,” researchers found that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone. While it’s important to recognize that personal preference, life experience, and cultural differences can alter how an individual perceives color, there are some overarching psychological themes that can help lead you to the right color for your brand. Below we will explore the traits of the 6 main colors of the rainbow.
Positive traits: Power, Strength, Heat, Importance, Passion
Negative traits: Anger, Pain, Rejection
Red boasts the longest wavelength, making it the most attention-grabbing color the human eye can see. It physically stimulates us by raising our pulse, giving us a sense of passion, excitement, and urgency. It’s a popular color choice in the world of marketing because of its ability to catch one’s attention and get them to act quickly. It also encourages our appetite, which makes it a popular choice for food brands. Because of its boldness, red can tend to come off as overly aggressive or angry. Red is not typically used by businesses associated with healing, self-care, meditation, etc.
Positive traits: Excitement, Warmth, Enthusiasm, Confidence, Extroversion
Negative traits: Ignorance, Flippancy, Impulsiveness, Insincerity
Orange is a “fun” color. It’s enthusiastic and warm demeanor makes it a favored choice for children’s brands and sun products. It also has a strong tie to the world of construction, often being used for tools, machinery, and safety gear. It holds the attention-grabbing power of red along with the cheeriness of yellow. These two traits can come off as obnoxious if the color is being overused, so don’t go too overboard. If your brand’s demographic leans in favor of introverted individuals, orange might not be the best choice. If your brand is considered to be youthful, extroverted and exciting, orange could be your perfect match.
Positive traits: Happy, Optimistic, Intellectual, Perky, Youthful
Negative traits: Aggravating, Cautious, Anxious
Yellow can be tricky because it has two opposing emotional effects on us. When used in the right place, with the right person, it has a knack for lifting our self-esteem, giving a sense of optimism and clarity. It’s commonly used in academic products or informational companies. When yellow is used too much or incorrectly, it can make us feel anxious, uncomfortable and fearful. Fast-paced brands tend to use these negative emotions to their advantage though. For example, you see the yellow/red combination quite frequently in fast food chains—this is because the red supposed to make you hungry, and the yellow keeps you from sticking around too long. If yellow is used in a smart manner, it can be one of the most influential colors to use on your audience.
Positive traits: Clean, Fresh, Trustworthy, Growth, Wealth, Health, Safety, Luck
Negative traits: Envious, Sick, Jealous, Contaminated
Green is well known for being the fresh and clean color. Hygiene products, cleaning supplies, and eco-friendly brands favor this color. It’s also the color that we trust the most. On a primitive level, green reassures us because an environment with lots of green means presence of water and food. In our modern day an age, green means “go” when we’re driving, and “enter” on keypads. It’s prominent in tech companies to help establish trust with their audience.
Positive traits: Calm, Clear, Secure, Peaceful, Healing, Reliable
Negative traits: Cold, Passive, Gloomy, Predictable, Quiet
Blue makes us feel calm and secure, which is why we see it so much in insurance companies and global corporations. Blue wins the vote for the most universally-preferred color as well, which could be either good or bad for your brand. Good because many people are drawn to its likeability, bad because its popularity can make your brand feel predictable. It might not be the best choice for brands that pride themselves on being exciting, unique, or creative. However, the peacefulness that blue offers makes it a safe choice sure to make your brand is approachable and your audience feels reassured.
Positive traits: Royal, Charming, Creative, Spiritual, Imaginative, Ambitious, Luxurious
Negative traits: Excessive, Arrogant, Pompous
Purple is the shortest wavelength, being the last color humans can see on the spectrum before entering the ultraviolet range. It takes our awareness to a higher level of thought, boosting our spirituality, creativity, and imagination. It’s often used in toys and candy packaging to appeal to children. Purple also leans on the feminine side due to its close proximity to pink on the color wheel, making it a popular color for feminine products. Before artificial coloring, purple was the most expensive color to reproduce; wearing it was a sign of wealth and royalty. Although the color isn’t difficult to create any more, it still holds this association and is used by brands considered to be considered luxurious or extravagant.
Choosing the right color that accurately embodies your brand is crucial to building a truly authentic brand identity. The decision should be backed up with research and you should be able to explain why you chose that color and what it represents. What is the right color for your brand? Let us know in the comments!