Color psychology is an essential tool in branding and design. While many believe it to be a purely aesthetic vehicle, it has far greater implications for a customer’s interaction with your product or service.
Aside from affecting mood, color can change a person’s behavior and opinion on things. This is precisely why businesses spend substantial amounts of resources to get their brand colors right.
The fact that Coca-Cola is red, Pepsi is red, blue, and white, and Google is red, yellow, green, and blue is not a coincidence. There are countless hours of thought and analysis behind these choices.
The critical question here is, “How does a brand get its colors right?”. In this article, we’ll explore color’s implications on the human psyche and how you should go about finding the colors that resonate with your brand most.
Do colors really matter?
The short answer is “yes.” Color has too many implications for it to be disregarded. This is especially relevant for up-and-coming startups that are preparing to enter the market.
They have psychological implications
Our perception of color is rooted in both evolutionary and cultural factors. Red, for instance, is a very powerful color since it has a strong association with blood — to which humans have historically drawn their attention for safety reasons. Therefore, logos that feature this color tend to stand out.
However, it’s important to underline that every color has a psychological backstory that influences its perception by different cultures.
This is precisely why choosing the right colors for your branding, marketing, and design efforts is vital for market differentiation and user experience.
Colors can make or break a brand
We should also point out that companies shouldn’t “just” pick colors that stand out. This choice should be thoroughly thought out and carefully curated. A brand’s color strategy should stem from its identity, target audience, tone of voice, and a variety of other factors, rather than the other way around. Just following color trends won't do.
By having an informed approach towards your brand’s color palette, you’ll be able to craft an identity that appeals to your customers.
Which colors are right for you?
Now that we’ve discussed the implications color has on your brand let’s take a look at some techniques that will help you narrow down the best options for your brand.
Since colors shouldn’t be a random afterthought, they should be consistent with who you are. Therefore, getting to know your brand better is the first step. There are countless frameworks that can help you get a more holistic understanding of your company’s identity and how it fits in the general narrative.
Below, you’ll find a few that we recommend.
Start with a brand house
Before establishing how your brand will present itself to your customers, it’s essential to explore your ethos, the purpose of your business, and your value proposition. By diving deep and defining these facets, you’ll be able to make an informed decision regarding your branding and the colors you’ll use.
A great way to do that is an employer-brand house. You can follow the template below to create a meaningful representation of your company’s identity by outlining its core values.
Create a personality spectrum
Another valuable exercise that will help you better understand your brand’s identity is creating a personality spectrum. It will allow you to outline your brand's central parameters and understand how it should communicate with its users. This information will then help you define the most suitable color palette for your company’s identity.
Choosing the right brand colors
Once you’ve compiled all the essential information about your brand ethos, you can proceed to explore color palettes. Fundamentally, your brand colors should be consistent with its identity.
Bear in mind that colors can have various connotations in different cultures. So if you’re creating a multinational project, it’s always a good idea to speak to a consultant.
Red is quite an intense color. We’ve mentioned previously that humans historically have associated it with blood. However, it’s also commonly thought of as being the color of love and passion. It’s safe to say that it elicits strong emotions in people.
Pink tends to be sentimental and romantic. However, pink can also be associated with youthfulness and boldness if presented in a more intense hue.
Orange is commonly considered a positive color that’s associated with vitality and happiness in pretty much all cultures. It combines red's passion with yellow's fun and optimism.
Yellow is typically linked to optimism and joy. It’s a color associated with being playful and happy. Due to the physical peculiarities of yellow, it’s a color that’s very easy to see, which makes it very popular in branding.
Green is often linked to nature, harmony, and balance. However, in many cultures, it can also be used to suggest wealth.
People typically associate blue with trustworthiness and dependability. However, depending on the context, it can sometimes be associated with depression and sadness.
Purple is the color of imagination and spirituality. It blends the passion of red with blue’s dependability and stability.
Brown isn’t necessarily the most stimulating and vibrant color, yet it has its merits. Brands that use this color typically try to communicate honesty and security.
White is a color that communicates simplicity, innocence, and peace. However, it can also be treated as clinical and sterile in the wrong context.
Black is both sophisticated and elegant — but it can often be treated as independent and mysterious.
Before we move on
It’s essential to underline that the meaning that these colors convey can shift and change depending on context, shades, tints, hues, and many other factors.
Some research indicates that people of different genders can have a different perception of brand colors. But it’s safe to say that brands can and should work outside gender stereotypes.
As Marc Chagall famously put it — “All colors are the friends of their neighbors and the lovers of their opposites.”
A brand palette is something that designers should invest a lot of thought into. To do that, they need to use color schemes. There is a vast number of color schemes, but we’ll stick to a few for now.
Monochromatic — focusing on a single color and diversifying it in different shades and hues;
Analogous — colors that are adjacent to one other on the color wheel;
Complementary — colors that are positioned on the opposite sides of the color wheel. Complementary colors tend to contrast each other the most, thus allowing for more accentuation;
Triad — another safe bet. This scheme implies selecting three equidistant colors. The challenge here is to make sure all three colors work with the aesthetic you’re going for and align with your brand personality.
Color is at the foundation of your brand’s identity and how the world will perceive your venture. By approaching color selection responsibly, you’ll be able to cater to your target audience and resonate with them.
And while color choices are not a science per se, we’re confident that they will contribute to your market fitness and overall success.