The Psychology of Color in Branding

Color. It’s all around us, and the colors we choose affect how we feel. Just visit your local paint store and notice your reaction as you peruse the paint samples. You’ll fall in love with some, and have a visceral reaction to others. That’s the psychology of color in action.

Did you know, though, that color also plays a huge part in the effectiveness of your branding? Here are some examples:

Red

Red is a power color. It’s the color of energy, passion, action, ambition and determination. It’s the color of fire, and the color that gets your attention. Use red when you want people to do something.

Brands that use red: Coca-Cola, Virgin, CNN, Lego, Target, Lays, Canon, Netflix

Orange

Orange is a friendly, fun color, representing optimism, spontaneity, and a positive outlook.

Brands that use orange: Amazon, Harley-Davidson, AT&T, NBA, Timberland, Blogger.

Yellow

Yellow is positive, optimistic and cheerful. Light-hearted and warm, yellow also represents intellect.

Brands that use yellow: Ikea, Best Buy, McDonalds, National Geographic, Sprint, Lays.

Green

Green is the color of balance and growth, spring, renewal, and rebirth. Green is a great color to use for eco-friendly brands and wellness brands. It has organic, earth energy, and is often considered the peacemaker.

Brands that use green: Whole Foods, Tropicana, Android, Starbucks, Holiday Inn, Land Rover, BP.

Blue

Blue is the color of trust, peace, integrity and loyalty. Financial institutions, social networks, and spas often use blue in their branding. It sends calming, wind/air energy.

Brands that use blue: Dell, American Express, Twitter, Facebook, Ford, IBM, Vimeo, Walmart, Ocean Spray, LinkedIn.

Purple

Purple promotes peace of mind/emotions, mental balance. It represents creativity, royalty, spirituality, imagination, and intuition. Purple is the humanitarian color.

Brands that use purple: Parkinson’s awareness, FedEx, SyFy Channel, Yahoo, Hallmark, Monster, Cadbury.

Pink

Pink represents love, hope, compassion, and nurturing. It is feminine, soft, and delicate. Pink is a positive, friendly, lighthearted color that harnesses the strong power of red.

Brands that use pink: Cosmopolitan, Barbie, Victoria’s Secret, Dunkin’ Donuts, Chanel.

Gray/Silver

Gray is conventional, dependable, practical. A color of maturity and responsibility. Sleek, elegant or drab, depending on the shade. Gray is conservative, neutral, and calm.

Brands that use gray: Apple, Wikipedia, Mercedes, NY Times.

Black

Black implies class, authority, power, affluence. It represents self-control, discipline, and strong will. It is sophisticated, timeless, elegant, and is often used for luxury brands.

Brands that use black: Nike, Puma, Nissan.

White

Black is color in its purest form. Representing clarity, purity, innocence, wholeness and completion. The color of new beginnings – the blank slate. Brands will primarily use white as contrast with other colors.

What do you see around you?

Can you think of brands that use each of these colors? What feeling do they evoke from you? Do the colors they use match the meaning of the color? Look around and you’ll find some that are spot on, and others that miss the mark completely.

If you’d like a cheat sheet to refer back to, you can download one here.

Read how the use of color affects your branding. Learn about the psychology of color and download a free cheat sheet.