The Psychology of Color In Your Brand

by Rob Toledo

The Psychology of Color In Your BrandWhat color is your brand? Logo? Website? How much time did you spend thinking before you committed it to a specific color? Each color triggers certain emotional and psychological reactions, so colors you use in your branding efforts should be carefully considered.

Many brands are instantly recognizable by a single color, and have even gone as far as trade marking their colors to stop other brands muscling in on their extensively researched palette. They argue the colors they use are part of the way that customers identify their brand or product, and the courts agree. Think Coke red or Starbucks green – a blur of color on a sign far up the street and you know you’re heading in the right direction for a caramel macchiato.

So why have these big names in marketing committed so fully to one or two colors? We’ve put together a rainbow of brands to help explain and demonstrate the effects of color psychology. Take inspiration from these brands’ choices – then go away and play around with your own brand’s color scheme.

Coke

Coca-Cola’s iconic white typeface on its specific shade of red is recognizable the world over. Coca-Cola red is even the subject of one of the world’s most enduring urban legends – that the modern, red-suited and white-bearded incarnation of Santa Claus is a bi-product of Coca-Cola marketing.

So why did Coke choose these distinctive colors? Well, red stimulates appetite, increases passion, intensity and heart rate, and (surprise, surprise) it encourages impulse purchasing.

Veuve Cliquot

Veuve Cliquot is consistent in the use of its trademarked yellow shade. It dominates their boxes and website, and the French champagne is often referred to simply as ‘Carte Jeune’ (yellow label).

So how did Veuve Cliquot come to choose its distinguished shade of yellow? Well, yellow stimulates mental processes and the nervous system, increases cheerfulness and warmth, encourages communication and represents optimism and youthfulness. It’s related to personal power, will, and self-esteem – sound like the ideals of a luxury champagne brand to you?

Starbucks

Green is relaxing, alleviates depression and constitutes health and tranquility. Perfect, then, for use by the world’s biggest coffee company.

Starbucks uses a recognizable dark green for its logo and its aprons, which, as well as being calming, also symbolizes wealth. Rather than screaming ‘we’re loaded!’ to its customers, this subtle connotation actually implies quality, which is just what you want from your morning beverage.

Facebook

The social-networking phenomenon chose a bright, clear blue for their color scheme. Although, according to the New Yorker, it’s because Mark Zuckerburg is red-green colorblind, blue actually has a significant effect on consumers.

Blue is considered clean and focused, professional and powerful, businesslike and credible – it creates a sense of security and trust in a brand. All the qualities you would hope for in a company that holds more of your personal details than you might like to admit.

Cadbury

Royal purple, as used by British chocolate company Cadbury (now owned by Mondeléz International which was formerly known as Kraft) signifies wealth, success, wisdom, mystery and sophistication, perfect for another luxury product.

Purple is related to spiritual life and experience, and is connected to transcendence and the divine – and there sure are plenty of people in the world who see chocolate as the gateway to heaven.

T Mobile

T Mobile is another company who has trademarked a particular color, and their specific shade of magenta features prominently in their stores and advertising.
The striking pink is unique in the crowded cellular communications market, so it grabs attention for that reason alone. Pink, however, also conveys energy, youthfulness, fun and excitement. It’s great for trendy products – and what trend changes faster than the latest ‘must-have’ cell phone?

How to Use It

By now you should be beginning to understand the huge importance of color to your brand’s message. Your choice should be instantly recognizable, set you apart from your competitors, and go hand in hand with your brand’s personality.

But how do you choose the right color? Well, thankfully there are plenty of useful tools available to help you play around with your color palette.

ColoRotate

ColoRotate brings color palettes to life in 3D and allows you to adjust the hue, tint and blend of your palette with an easy to use tool. The website also has a ‘learn about color’ section that’s great for first-timers.

Kuler

Adobe Kuler is a community driven cloud-based application that allows its users to capture colors by photograph and create palettes based around these custom shades. It then allows users to share their color combinations, so it’s also fantastic for those looking for a little color inspiration.

Shutterstock Color Spectrum

Shutterstock Color Spectrum is a fantastic tool to help you find the perfect color images for your website and marketing materials.

Once you’ve figured out the ideal color for your brand with one of the tools above, select it on the sliding color scale to see a huge selection of images that use the exact shade of your choice.

Remember, color has a striking impact. It’s the first thing that draws the eye to a product, logo or website. According to Karen Haller, a leading expert in color psychology, consistent use of color increases brand recognition and loyalty, as well as building brand trust. So make sure you choose your colors wisely.

image credit: interesting articles.com

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Innovative Data - Numbers Telling a BIG StoryRob Toledo is Outreach Coordinator at Distilled, aka marketing coordinator with experience heavily focused online. Technologically driven, with a love for SEO, outreach, link building, content creation, conversion rate optimization, advertising, copywriting, graphic design, SEO, SEM, CRO, Google Analytics, social media, creative content…you get the picture. He blogs at stenton toledo

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  1. Useful info.

    I do feel however that most brands do not consider this when creating their identity. I’m curious as to whether some businesses would of had more success if consideration was placed on this from the beginning.

    • Hey Tom —

      Thanks for reading! —

      Great question. I think one time you see a lot more color theory discussed is in the web design process. It’d be interesting to see more of it in early branding.

      Best,

      Rob

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