If a picture is worth a thousand words and a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, then what are we left with? The answer is simple: the power of color imagery and color psychology. Colors have the unique ability to evoke an emotional response in a way that words sometimes cannot. In fact, it is this very ability that makes choosing brand colors such an important task.
Do Certain Colors Have A Psychological Impact?
The majority of people interact with colors on a daily basis. In fact, according to Leslie Harrington, Executive Director of The Color Association, “The first point of interaction is shaped by the color … color is [also] the most memorable sense.” This statement showcases the manner with which color becomes our first sensory touch point and in doing so directly impacts how we think about a company’s products or services. In fact, consumer purchases are often influenced by not only the product’s colors, but also those of the brand.
Take for example the differences between Dunkin Donuts’ orange and purple vs. Starbucks’ vibrant green. In the former, the orange represents a youthful and affordable touch, while the purple brings to mind feelings of majestic luxury. Together, the two colors attract a certain type of clientele, while the green of the Starbucks brand speaks to the riches of life, the environment, and organic ingredients. So, you see, the brand color psychology is not a trivial matter.
What Do Colors Mean And What Emotions Can They Evoke?
Just as music can trigger a certain emotional response, so too can colors trigger immediate subconscious responses. Smart marketers understand that color is a subtle media that transcends cultural borders and language barriers to establish powerful connections. As a universal language, color can tell the story needed to help your brand immediately establish a connection with your intended consumer.
- Red is equated with stimulus, aggression, and passion. It is a common color choice for dynamic companies (or restaurants) who want to be on the cutting edge of industry innovations.
- Yellow is a traditionally tricky color for marketing purposes. While the color is generally associated with warning signs or cowardice, it has been successfully used to elicit warm or sunny feelings (thanks “Golden Arches”).
- Green is a color that brings to mind feelings of symbiotic relationships, a connection with nature, and has ethical foundations. It is typically used by environmentally friendly brands that want to be associated with natural or organic ways of thinking.
- Blue is a popular marketing color due to its defining characteristics of sincerity, integrity, and professionalism. Many government affiliates and financial institutions choose to use blue to trigger feelings of trust and calm in their constituents.
- Orange is often used to appeal to innovative, modern, affordable, and youthful sensibilities. It is typically used by brands who want to remain approachable to all generations.
- Purple is the classic color for royalty or luxury. It is often used by religious bodies or brands interested in appealing to traditional values.
- White is a color that triggers feelings of simplicity, purity, and cleanliness. As a general rule of thumb a splash of white can trigger a positive emotional response and is often used for its balancing capabilities within brand colors.
- Black is a complex color that is both modern, sophisticated, and powerful, while simultaneously representing death or villainy. It is often used within logos as a contrast color (although its popularity as a brand color tends to rise and fall with the times).
Through the above defining factors, it is easy to see how the psychology of color greatly impacts a brand’s ability to successfully connect with its intended consumer audience.
Choosing The Right Colors For Your Brand with Color Psychology
The tricky thing about colors is that what works for one brand might not work for another. The reason behind this logic is due to the fickle nature of humans. We often change our minds and our associations with specific colors is partly influenced by the current trends, which is why color must be carefully considered during a brand refresh. With this in mind, one thing does remain true — colors only work if they are authentic.
In other words, a color will only stay true to its defining characteristics if the connection between its meaning and your brand is authentic. With these words in mind, do not choose a color simply because it is “trendy.” Instead, run a focus group to see if your audience can automatically envision the connection between your brand color and the emotional response that you are trying to evoke. Just as Dunkin Donuts would look strange in blue, so too would Starbucks flounder in yellow. When you remain true to your brand vision, choosing the right colors will be as easy as introducing yourself at a party (after all, that’s exactly what colors are doing for your brand … introducing you to an awaiting consumer audience).
The Bottom Line: Psychology And Company Colors Are Two Peas In A Pod
The moral of the story is clear, when you understand the psychological impact of colors, you can more easily create authentic connections with your customers. Just as Coca Cola embraced a vibrant red to perfectly match their bold flavor, so too must you think about what type of emotional response you want your customers to automatically associate with your brand. Through the right colors, you can help your company appeal to the right audience, establish a positive emotional response, and build brand loyalty for years to come.