Color and branding are inextricably linked. Successful branding relies heavily on color psychology. One of the most important ways a brand uses color is to create a visual brand identity, as color is used to influence customers’ emotions and perceptions of the goods and services that a company offers. Color can also portray meaning and message without words and is the key visual component people remember most about a brand.
What is color psychology?
Color psychology is the study of hues as a determinant of human behavior. Color influences perceptions that are not obvious, for example, the taste of food. Neil Patel, a Forbes top 10 marketer, says “color is 85% of the reason you purchased a specific product.”
There are two types of colors on the color wheel – warm colors and cool colors.
- Warm colors include reds, oranges and yellow and are great for creating energy and emotion in your designs.
- Cool colors include blues, greens, pinks and purples and are used to create a more calming and soothing nature.
Color psychology and brand personality
Much of branding is dependent on the belief that specific colors evoke specific emotions. Though the use of color in branding and marketing to persuade consumers is very popular, it is actually backed with very little factual data. It is nearly impossible to narrow down a specific emotion to color reaction due to the vast differences in personal experiences, though there are certain patterns that can be found in the emotional evocation of certain colors.
With the right color palette, you can influence how someone feels, thinks and behaves. Color psychology serves as a great starting point when narrowing down the right palette for your brand.
Red is often associated with fire or blood and can represent both warmth and danger. In branding, red tends to represent strength, confidence, and power.
Orange is also associated with fire, combining the warmth of red and positivity of yellow to create a hue that communicates energy and optimism. In branding, orange tends to represent youthfulness and creativity.
Yellow is often associated with sunshine, which communicates happiness, cheerfulness, brightness, and friendliness. In branding, yellow tends to garner more attention.
Green is often associated with nature, which communications all-natural, freshness and growth. In branding, green is used to showcase an all-natural and environmentally friendly product or brand.
Blue is often associated with the ocean or sky and communicates peacefulness. In branding, blue tends to represent trustworthiness, stability, and security.
Purple is often associated with royalty and honor. In branding, purple tends to represent luxury.
Black, like red, can evoke both positive and negative emotions. Often associated with power and sophistication as well as death or evil, black can be used in a variety of ways, all depending on context.
Brand awareness using color psychology
The most recognizable brands in the world rely on color to help boost brand awareness with instant recognition, in fact, a study by the University of Loyola found that color increases brand recognition by up to 80%. The same study also found that color is registered by the brain before both images and type.
A key part of McDonald’s brand identity is the combination of the individual colors red and yellow. Red is used to increase appetite and create a sense of urgency and yellow is used to evoke happiness. This color theory combined with their tagline of “I’m lovin’ it,” creates a positive brand personality. McDonald’s has remained successful for so long for a reason – People easily recognize it and people love it.
McDonald’s is just one of many fast food restaurant chains to utilize the color combination of red and yellow. Burger King, In-N-Out, Popeyes and more have logos dominated by the color red with an accent color of yellow, creating positive associations with their brands.
Harley Davidson uses a simple three-color combination of black and orange, symbolizing both energy and sophistication, and white to create a strong contrast. These colors are an essential part of the brand’s identity, after all, who would buy a Harley if it was associated with peace and fragility?
The primary color of Facebook’s logo is blue. Blue is one of the most commonly used colors in American marketing and can be seen in the branding of many social media companies as well as financial companies.
Snapchat’s primary color is yellow, which is a color most often associated with fun and cheer. Snapchat is a very popular app meant for playful communication through images.
Though colors may have different associations across cultures, color and branding take all of this into consideration to use colors in the most effective way. The most successful brands use the psychology of color and branding to create a particular response from their target audience, going beyond their own personal preference.
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