Color Psychology: How it Affects the Perception of Your Brand

According to research done by Adobe’s Marketo, color is the first element of logos a consumer will notice. It’s one of the main features that helps consumers to recall a brand later.

What’s the first brand you remember when you think of the color red? Is it Target or Coca-Cola? What’s the first brand that comes to mind when you think of the color blue? Is it Walmart or Pepsi? These large companies understand the value of color and leverage it to strengthen their brand overall.

Beyond just recall and recognition, Marketo states that “a product’s color influences 60 to 80 percent of a customer’s purchasing decision.” Consequently, the colors you choose for your brand, from logo to end product, are critical. If not to you personally, it matters to your company’s bottom line.

In this article, we showcase the perceptions and implications behind the most common brand colors.

Color Psychology, What’s That?

Color psychology is the study of color in relation to human behaviors, feelings, emotions, and moods. This concept is especially pertinent in areas such as art, design and marketing. People respond to and perceive colors in different ways depending on their culture and experiences.

Why is Color Important in Marketing and Branding?

Emotional appeal is a valuable strategy in marketing and advertising. Color is an element that helps evoke emotions, thus needs to be used to effectively execute an emotional appeal. You can make consumers identify with the sorrowful message in a commercial or make your company stand out from others in the market and from other products on the shelf.

Color can be used to grab a consumer’s attention and motivate them to take action. It can be used to influence how consumers think, such as making sales seem urgent. Color also helps alert consumers of negative outcomes in warning labels to keep them safe.

In branding, design elements like color, logo, font, and packaging seem to be small details that you add later. If we have our mission, values and messaging out there, people will understand who we are as a company anywhere, right? Wrong. The mission behind your brand and messaging you wish to communicate to your consumers isn’t always readily available. Even when it is, some consumers might not read that information.

How are you going to show who you are as a company to those that only look for the visuals? The design and color will convey certain attributes when the messaging touchpoint isn’t there.

Colors and Interpretations

We’ve listed the colors that make up the traditional rainbow, that are generally the dominant color in logos. We name both the positive and negative traits associated with each color and provide examples of large brands that utilize each color.

Red

There’s no doubt that red is a strong hue. It relates to both sides of intensity, passion and danger. It represents passion and romance with hearts and roses on Valentine’s day. Emergency vehicle lights, water rescue equipment, and firefighting gear indicate danger.

In marketing, red is used to make information stand out and exhibits urgency to cause consumers to take action, like in clearance sale signs. Red is a powerful choice that won’t go unnoticed. Some of the positive and negative implications are listed below.

Positive Meanings:

  • Excitement
  • Energy
  • Passion

Negative Meanings:

  • Danger
  • Anger
  • Pain

Red Brands:

Coca-Cola, Target, Netflix, Christian Louboutin, Youtube, Canon, Lays

Orange

Orange radiates warmth and captures attention. It’s seen in sunsets, flowers, citrus and appears everywhere during the fall season. With traffic cones, hunting gear, and sports team logos orange catches attention and fosters enthusiasm. In marketing, orange can add fun accents on websites and is best known to represent creativity.

Sitting opposite of the cool tones, it’s the milder version of the fierce red and the bright yellow. Thus, it relates more to the comfort and cozy nature of fire rather than the dangerous side that red communicates. Once black is added, it becomes cartoonish as we see with Halloween and brand characters, such as Tony the Tiger and Chester the Cheetah. Some of the positive and negative implications are listed below.

Positive Meanings:

  • Creativity
  • Warmth
  • Enthusiasm

Negative Meanings:

  • Immaturity
  • Frivolity
  • Deprivation

Orange Brands:

Nickelodeon, Harley Davidson, Home Depot, Amazon, Shutterfly, Discover

Yellow

Yellow is always categorized by warmth, brightness, and optimism due to its representation in the sun. Similar to orange, yellow is associated with a season: summer. Yellow can showcase the idea of luxury as well, seen in the elite brand Ferrari and in its close relation to gold.

Similar to red, yellow can send a message of warning. In caution signs, construction gear, warning labels and a vast amount of traffic signs, yellow warns of what’s to come. Also known as being energetic and cheerful, it makes sense as to why it was used for characters such as Spongebob Squarepants and Pikachu. Some of the positive and negative implications are listed below.

Positive Meanings:

  • Happiness
  • Positivity
  • Motivation

Negative Meanings:

  • Deceit
  • Warning
  • Frustration

Yellow Brands:

Sprint, Chevrolet, Nikon, IKEA, Ferrari, Mcdonalds, Best Buy

Green

Since it’s one of the most common colors in nature, green represents the environment. Due to that connection, it’s the color that speaks for sustainability along with eco-friendly companies and products. It demonstrates literal growth, like in plants or having a “green thumb.”

Green means health, displayed in vegetables or in the phrase stressing to “eat your greens.” Saint Patrick’s Day and the “Luck of the Irish” communicate that green means luck. Envy and greed are widely known to be associated with this hue as well. Some of the positive and negative implications are listed below.

Positive Meanings:

  • Growth
  • Nature
  • Health

Negative Meanings:

  • Envy
  • Sickness
  • Boredom

Green Brands:

Whole Foods, Spotify, Holiday Inn, Starbucks, Land Rover, Android, Heineken

Blue

Red is shown in fire, meaning warmth, while blue is shown in water, meaning coolness. As with all the colors, it stands for positive and negative connotations. Depending on the context, blue is calm and tranquil or cold and depressing. Water can signify serenity as people love the soothing sound of waves crashing on the shore. However, it’s powerful and can cause great damage in the form of hurricanes and tsunamis.

In offices, blue is used because it has been said to increase productivity and energy. In branding, blue conveys dependability, loyalty, and professionalism. This is why it’s seen so often across all industries but shows up the most in the tech and digital field. Blue is a well-liked color, therefore, it’s a safe and secure choice sure to be accepted in any capacity. Some of the positive and negative implications are listed below.

Positive Meanings:

  • Calm
  • Trust
  • Dependability

Negative Meanings:

  • Cold
  • Sadness
  • Unappetizing

Blue Brands:

Facebook, Walmart, Pepsi, American Express, Samsung, IBM, Ford

Purple

The cross of red and blue, purple, it showcases the calm from the blue and the strong stimulation from the red. It’s most often associated with royalty and bravery with the purple heart medal. Due to this, it can signify luxury and wealth but also arrogance and suppression. The nod to royalty can be seen in the logos of Crown Royal and Hallmark.

Out of all the other colors of the rainbow, purple is the rarest to appear in nature, as it’s only seen in flowers and gems or crystals. It can relate to relaxation with the purple flower lavender having calming properties. Some of the positive and negative implications are listed below.

Positive Meanings:

  • Power
  • Wisdom
  • Imaginative

Negative Meanings:

  • Suppression
  • Moodiness
  • Inferiority

Purple Brands:

Yahoo, Hallmark, Taco Bell, Welch’s, Cadbury, FedEx, Twitch

Conclusion

Bottom line? Color is an essential component in the perception of your brand and influencing consumer purchase decisions, so don’t overlook it.

These are simply the basics of color psychology that can easily be kept in mind for new brands, new product lines, and product packaging. For established brands, make a note of what your logo color communicates to consumers and think of how to leverage the positive meanings in your favor.

All the elements of your brand’s identity build longevity for your brand in the marketplace and ensures consumers will recognize and trust your products and services.

So, what does your brand’s logo say about your company?

Want to learn more about branding? Check out our other blog posts here.

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