The psychology of color in branding
I often faced a situation where my clients ask for a specific color to use in their logo. My answer points them to understand the criteria of picking the right color according to the psychology of color in branding. In marketing, advertising, branding every color has a different meaning and communicates different messages. As a designer my aim is to solve a problem and find a solution that must work. Color emotionally influence your consumers. In this article I want to resume the meaning of the most used color.
Red color is passion, romanticism, love. Yes, correct, but can also stand for speed, aggression, power, danger, warning. Red has to be used carefully for branding purpose. Can evoke both positive and negative messages. For example Grammatical mistakes are marked in red, stop signboards, finance debts are just few example of the negativity of this color. Red is a color that tends to increase the appetite (see brands like McDonalds, Coca Cola and KFC) and intensifies the reactions and emotions.
A warm color that represents optimism, happiness and creativity. It is the color of the sun, which brings light. A bright color that is often used by companies dealing with children products. I remember some Disney movies’ logos such Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Hercules,… Even yellow has some negativity features. B can represent even fear, caution and frustration.
Mix of yellow and red. Unlike them, orange color is used to take attention. The first example I can mention is the traffic light which warns you to slow down. It communicates warmth, fun, confidence, energy, it stimulates motivation and enthusiasm. It is also applied in food industry (see Fanta).
A color which immediately reminds you the nature. It represents and communicates peaceful, calm, health, creativity, balance, growth, freshness and prosperity. Green color can be considered mainly positive. Very used in eco-friendly products and brands. It is also used in the night vision because our eyes can discern more shades of it.
Blue it is a serene and calm color. I have read that is the world’s most favorite color, especially by men. You won’t take any risk choosing blue for your brand, it communicates stability, trust, security and loyalty. Is no coincidence that banks and legal services are often using blue color in their brand (see Barclays, Paypal, Visa, American Express,…). Another example of blue application in logo is in front of us every single day. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter are a good example, because social medias are “places” where consumers nowadays spending a lot of time. As blue is a calm and relaxing color, it looks and works better in the user interface. If the user interface was for example red, the experience would not be the same.
This is the mix of red and blue color. Is the one which connects the feeling of spirituality, magic, meditation, royalty, mystery. Purple is a color that can be both cold and warm. Considered cold when it tends to be on blue shade, and considered warm when tends to be on red shade. Also associated with luxury and wealth. Yahoo, Milka and BenQ logos are colored in violet/purple.
Firstly associated as a feminine color. Harmony, love, caring and romanticism are some more attributes represented with pink color. A color that brings positive feelings, and can be youthful at the same time.
A mixture of red, yellow and black. Brown is the color of the hearth. Can be seen everywhere in nature, therefore can well represent it. Due to a big percentage of black present in the color, can also communicate seriousness, but in warmer way. Often used for natural products representation, as wood and leather.
First of all, grey color is a mixture of white and black. It is a neutral and timeless color that can be applied for different purposes. Grey is modern color and evokes balance, intelligence and strength. Grey can be lighter or darker, there are many shades of it. It can be also associated with many other color.
Symbol of purity and innocence. White is the opposite of black and it reflects everything. Simplicity, minimalism, cleanliness, isolation and freshness are the main significant attributions. Often used with black and other strong color to create visual contrast.
Black is timeless and stylish color. It is the absence of the light and sometimes can evoke negative feelings such death, depression, oppression, coldness,… Not always has negativity meaning. Black color suits perfectly for brands that want to communicate elegance, luxury and security, together with seriousness, power and decision.
By understanding the psychology of color in branding you can assume the importance of selecting the right one. Is not only about aesthetic but is more about functionality. Your brand talks, communicates, shares, inspires, and color are one of the main source to do it well. Check also my article where I explain the process of designing a logo, from start to end. Choice and application of color in a logo is part of the design thinking. As the italian designer Massimo Vignelli was saying: “If you do it right, it will last forever”.