Color Psychology: Why the color of your brand matters

By March 5, 2014Color, Graphic Design
Color Psychology

Color is an amazingly powerful thing.

Just about everything we choose from clothing to food is influenced by color. Paint a wall in your room a very bright powerful red color and you might find yourself not wanting to stay there for long. Is the room inherently different? Nope, you just changed the color of ONE wall. Colors influence how we feel, so it is important to have a little knowledge of what colors generally mean to people.

Some of our feelings about colors come from culture while others come from how the natural world works. For example, culturally blue and pink have been associated with genders and green in the United States is associated with money. When thinking about the natural world bright red, yellow, and orange colored fruits are usually sweet and taste pretty good. When you start seeing brown fruit we are conditioned to avoid them because we know they are over ripened and going bad. It is a natural part of the world around us. No color is inherently bad or good, but the context in which it is used can change its meaning dramatically.

COLOR AND CONTEXT EXAMPLES:

Green grass = Good / Growing Healthy
Green bread = Bad / Growing Mold

Blue Sky = Good / Warm
Blue Face = Bad / Cold

Let’s go through what a few colors generally mean and feel like.

White:

You can debate me on whether white is a color later, just know it has meaning. Clean, bright, open, whole, innocent. It has nothing to hide because it can’t. It isn’t just a light shade but it’s visual weight is very light as well.

Purple:

Purple is youthful and imaginative. It is also regal and sophisticated. Often is is more associated as a feminine color. It is more rare and different almost a bit of fantasy/spirituality. You’re not going to find a lot of purple in nature.

Black:

The contrast to white. Visually it is heavy. Which weighs more, a black bowling ball or a white one? They could weigh the same but it’s going to LOOK like the white one will weigh less. Black is mysterious, strong, and powerful.

Gray:

When gray comes around it stays pretty quiet. It is a neutral subdued color. Not quite white, not quite black. Even keel in the middle. What it says is that it doesn’t say much. It is there to support and stay in the background while letting others stand out.

Blue:

It is cool and calm. Think of things that you associate with blue. How to they make you feel? It can be associated with depression, but also can also symbolize loyalty, integrity and trust. Blue is by far the MOST used and most universal color because it means so many different things. It’s the enigma of colors that goes wherever you want it to, but can be seen as overdone.

Red:

As a main color it is extremely powerful and in your face. It screams LOOK AT ME. Red is passionate and red can be angry. It is fast and full of energy. Often you can use red as an accent color so it isn’t so jarring but still brings the sizzle to the table. Even nature uses red as an accent color. Red has life.

Green:

So much of the natural world is green and can make you feel more relaxed. Light green is fresh, while your darker greens are more masculine. Neon greens are very futuristic. Because the US dollar is green it can be associated with money and greed. But green is stable and balanced.

Yellow:

While a bright vibrant yellow can be hard on the eyes it is often associated with optimism and happiness. Yellow is smart but can also be impatient with you. Ever heard the term yellow bellied? Well it means coward and that’s one of the associations we have with yellow. In the United States and many other places yellow is associated with caution.

Orange:

Not quite red, not quite yellow but a mix of both so its full of energy and optimism but not overly in your face. Orange is warm and inviting and asks for your attention. On the negative side orange can be a bit annoyingly abrasive and not the one you want to have around all the time.

Brown:

A lot of nature is brown. It is solid and dependable, like the earth you are standing on. Brown is serious and won’t ever be overly emotional. Brown is wholesome, healthy and sensible, can also feel sad and isolated.v

Pink:

Pink is a VERY subdued red. Often associated with femininity. Pink is soft, inviting, playful and loving. Pink will calm, romance, and nurture you. Light pink doesn’t take itself very seriously it just wants to have fun and smile.