Color, psychology and branding are all very different things, but when we combine all of them, you get a guide that helps businesses in building their brand using color psychology.
Why Should You Care About Color Psychology?
Human behavior has always been a very interesting area of study for many scientists, questions like-Why everyone has different opinion about certain things? Why do women and men think differently? And thousands of different questions needed to be answered. One of the questions that scientists have been researching about is colors and its effect.
Humans are one of the few species that can see colors. The other species like monkeys, ground squirrels, some birds, insects etc. can see few colors but not as good as humans. So, it becomes essential for us to find out why.
Color influences our daily behaviors in many ways. We react differently when we look at certain colors. It creates a physiological change in your body’s biochemistry, which leads to certain decisions like buying it or not. One study shows, color influence 62-90% of the decisions regarding products and brands.
Using this knowledge, we can help businesses in building their brand image by addressing the psychological behavior of a customer. Taking this path for influencing the customers, make it an easier and effective approach for business as it saves money, time and other resources.
What is Color Theory?
Color theory is a guide that designers use to mix, match and combine to create visual effects in their designs. There are 18 decillion numbers of colors that is, 1 followed by 33 zeros, it becomes extremely hard to create a guide and include all those colors in a book.
Since designers are more creative people, and providing them with a study material containing details about these colors can be overwhelming for them. So, Color theory was introduced that helps a designer to create his/her own color that they want. If you want to understand color theory, we need to understand what a color wheel is?
Color Wheel for Better Understanding of Color Psychology
Color wheel is an arrangement of different colors and illustrates the relationship between primary, secondary and tertiary colors. In order to understand color psychology, we need to understand what colors are, which can only be done using color wheel.
Components of the Color Wheel
The color wheel contains different colors and can be categorized as follows-
Primary Color consists of three colors that make all the other colors. The three colors are red, blue and yellow. These colors are also used to make secondary colors.
Secondary colors are purple, green and orange which are placed between two primary colors. The secondary colors are formed by mixing the primary colors, which is as follows-
- Red+ Blue= Purple
- Blue + Yellow= Green
- Red+ Yellow= Orange
Tertiary Colors are a combination of primary and secondary colors. The color formed is similar to the primary color but with a difference in its tone. There are six tertiary colors which are as follows-
- Blue- Purple
Saturated Color or Hue
Saturated Colors or Hue are those colors that are pure in nature meaning the colors are untouched. In this color scheme, no other colors are mixed with the original color to form a pure color.
Adding grey color to the base color gives a toned color. For example-adding grey to red increases the tone of red and you achieve a different color. Since, grey is made up of black and white, altering the percentage of black and white in the grey gives different grey color which in turn alters the red color. Tone is often used to decrease the intensity of the color.
Adding white color into the base color gives a tinted color. For example-adding white color to red forms a different color, which lightens the brightness of the color red. You get a pinkish color which is also one of the favorite colors of women. Tints are often used to decrease the brightness of the color.
When black is added to the base color, we get a different shade of the color. For example- adding black color to red color, form a maroonish red which is a darker form of red color. Shades are often used to intensify and decrease the brightness of the color.
Warm and Cool Color
Since white light is made up of seven colors therefore, whenever the light hits the surface of the color, it absorbs some colors and reflects others. For example- when light hits a blue color surface, it absorbs all the color but reflects the blue color, giving it its blue color.
Colors can be distinguished into two broad categories based on the amount of light it reflects and absorbs. Warm colors and Cool colors, as the name suggests, warm colors are hot in nature and cool colors are cool in nature.
You can find the difference between warm and cool color by drawing a line in between the color wheel.
Neutral Color are those colors that are neither warm nor cool hence, they are named cool. These colors are hidden in the color wheel and cannot be found easily. Neutral colors include black, white, gray, brown and beige. They are called neutral colors because of their distinction from the other colors. Neutral colors are used to create shade, tone, tint and other color alteration.
Color Schemes for Branding Your Business
Now, we know what colors are and different types of colors that can be used for branding. Creating a brand design is more than just using colors, but, it is using colors for a purpose that tells a story. Using a color combination of two or three colors helps in creating a design that is lively and conveys a story.
The color wheel helps us in finding these combinations that go well with each other. There are few general geometric combinations that look very good and can hold true for any color. These geometric shapes when moved from color to color, the other colors also match accordingly.
Complementary colors are those colors that are placed opposite to each other in a color wheel. This combination is best when you want to make things stand out like on a CTA button, CTA Text etc. It visually registers better when we use complementary color because of the contract created by the color.
Opposite attracts which makes these color schemes more appealing to the eyes and can be used to instantly attract the attention.
As the above image shows, the complementary color (Left Side) helped the CTA button to get highlighted easily, whereas, on the right side, we have to add shadow to make it look distinct and still the design cannot do the job that a complementary design does.
You can use the complementary color scheme in the logo design to make your logo different and help it to stand out from the crowd. These colors are versatile and are best for marketing your business. You can use this color scheme to create your website as well as a logo that complements each other.
Split Complementary Colors
Split complementary colors are best if you want to use three colors. In this color scheme, the contrast is not complementary but still creates a distinction that gets registered. Using split complementary colors in the designs is quite tricky and might come as funky. So, if you are a business that deals with professionals, businesses must keep away from these colors.
As the above image shows a web page design that uses three split complementary colors. The design has a base color as rose pink and purple as supporting complementary color. The CTA buttons are yellow-greenish (Rio Grande) color. They complement each other and at the same time do not create intensity that complementary colors do.
Analogous means similar or comparable. These colors are a group of three colors placed next to each other in the color wheel. These colors have the potential to create a seamless look that relaxes you. This type of color scheme is subtle yet alluring which makes it best choice for interior decoration, posters design, paintings etc.
Monochromatic colors are those colors that use tone, tints or shades of a single color. The use of monochromatic colors is to add sophistication and elegance to the design. They are also seamless and can be used for product package design, website design, photography etc.
The best way to use the monochromatic colors is with a neutral color to create a distinction that is necessary for certain designs.
Triad, Tetradic, and Polychromatic Color Schemes for Branding
There are lot of colors and different color models to follow. Marketing your brand has multiple channels and each channel has its own design requirement. Since, design and art are subjective, it is not necessary to follow just two are three colors. You can use multiple color schemes to create a design for your brand. These color schemes are named as triad, tetradic, and polychromatic colors which means three colors, four colors and multiple colors respectively.
There are two different channels when it comes to marketing and these are Digital marketing and print marketing. Both of these channel uses different model for designs.
CMYK Color Model
CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black). This model is used for the printing process which uses ink plates with the same color.
All the branding materials that require you to print like business card design, flyer, ad poster etc. must follow this color model to get the best results.
RGB Color Model
RGB stands for red, green and blue. This model is used for marketing over digital medium. Since the screens of our devices RGB pixels for displaying the image, it is the best choice to create a design based on RGB model.
Choose the Best Colors for Your Business
There are overwhelming numbers of colors in the world. There are so many options to choose from. What should I choose? Well! It depends on different factors like demographic, culture, gender etc. but we can narrow down our search for the best color for branding your business image by learning about the psychology of colors and how they emotionally affect our choices.
Color Psychology of Red
Red is a powerful color and can grab instant attention. It contains high energy and can be associated with attraction, love, anger, strength, power and many other emotions.
Often red has a special place in the dating world. Women who wear red are perceived as more attractive and appealing to men. You may have seen T.V. commercials targeting women audience, they have a lot of red in their frames. This is a simple marketing strategy to attract more customers.
For men, blue color t-shirt designs were considered to be more attractive and appealing to the opposite gender.
A business that needs to create stimulates physical senses like hunger, lust and passion. Psychologically, it energizes the physical body and increases blood circulation and heart rate, which makes it the best option for the food industry. Some of the businesses using the color red are McDonalds, KFC, Coca Cola, etc.
Color Psychology Negative Effect of Red
Red is a very powerful color and requires a balancing color which cancels out the negative effect. Some of the negative traits that are associated with red color are danger, anger, aggressiveness etc. therefore, it becomes extremely important for you to balance this emotion by adding colors like white, blue, yellow etc.
Color Psychology of Blue
Blue is the most used color for branding as it is the safest due to its quality. It evokes calmness and serenity feelings which make it the best option for business. Many studies suggest that, blue color is also the most preferred color for men.
A business that wants to create trust and sincere feelings in their customer heart should use this color. Some of the businesses using the color red are Facebook, Samsung, HP, Intel etc.
Color Psychology Negative Effect of Blue
Blue can create a feeling of aloofness and sadness and can lead to loss of appetite which makes it the worst option for the food industry. To balance these emotions, you need to pair it with a complementary color or neutral color like white.
Color Psychology of Green
Green color is nature’s color and therefore, associates it with growth and vitality. We can find green color in nature and when we see green color, we often get an image of leaf, plat or tree in our head. It is a very relaxing color and evokes a feeling of safety and compassion. It is also associated with money because of the use of green color in Dollar.
You can find many businesses related to finance industry to have green or blue color logo design because of its association with growth, nature, security etc. Some of the businesses using the color green are Subway, Starbucks, TD Ameritrade etc.
Color Psychology Negative Effect of Green
The color green can induce a feeling of jealousy, which works sub consciously. Jealousy is a negative emotion but, if used correctly, can increase your business growth. Cultural significance is really important when dealing with the color green as different culture has different meaning associated with this color.
Color Psychology of Yellow
The color yellow is the brightest color of all the visible color spectrum, filling it with energy and optimism. It can grab instant attention and increase metabolism due to its energetic nature. Traffic signs and warning signs are all written in red and yellow. Some of the businesses using the color yellow are McDonalds, Lays, IKEA, Nikon, IMDB etc.
Color Psychology Negative Effect of Yellow
Aggressiveness is also associated with the color yellow, therefore, often balanced with black or white. Some of the compatible colors of yellow are blue, red, orange etc.
Color Psychology of Orange
Orange is the combination of red and yellow making it energetic like them. It can grab attention and can induce feelings like excitement, enthusiasm, and warmth. Halloween is associated with orange color, therefore, it can have a cartoonish and dark assessment by the viewer. Some of the businesses using the color orange are Amazon, Modzilla, Harley Davidson, JBL etc.
Color Psychology Negative Effect of Orange
We see orange colors in nature either on a flower, fruits, vegetable or on the dying leaves during autumn season. This makes it a contradicting color which makes it a controversial. It gets balanced when using it with colors like white, black, blue etc.
Color Psychology of Purple
Purple is a royal color that can be found as the go-to choice of many historical figures. You can find many royal prince and princess dressed with a beautiful silk and muslin clothes colored purple. Wisdom and prosperity is indicated by using purple color. Some of the businesses using purple color are Cadbury, Yahoo, Twitch, FedEx etc.
Color Psychology Negative Effect of Purple
Purple is also associated with mysteriousness and Premiumness which makes it unopened or approachable to everyone. If your business image demands you to be open then it becomes very difficult for you to use this color. You can use the color with other colors to get past this feeling and create the balance.
Color Psychology of Gold
Gold, as the name suggests, is a royal and rich color. Gold as a metal is a high priced metal that makes it one of the most valuable things on earth. This quality can also be noted when we use the gold color in our designs. It expresses charm, confidence, luxury, and treasure which makes it valuable. Some of the businesses using the color gold are Royal Stag, Bacardi etc.
Color Psychology Negative Effect of Gold
Since it is associated with premium class and rich features, this color is not for everyone. If your customer base is a premium class, then you can use this logo, and if you want to be approachable to every section of the society, then you must use some other color.
Color Psychology of Silver
Silver is a metallic color that is associated with strength and power and therefore, is often used by card manufacturers to showcase luxuriousness of their brand. It’s glamorous, modern, sleek, high-tech etc. making it an appealing choice for a young audience. Some of the businesses using the silver in their brand image are Audi, Jaguar, Lexus, Toyota, Honda etc.
Color Psychology Negative Effect of Silver
Silver can be a little cold and impersonal, which makes it un-connecting. This color sets a fence around it making it un-approachable. This can be good as well as bad totally depending on the customer base for your business. For a luxury brand, the customer base is the premium class of society, making it acceptable.
Color Psychology of Black
Black is the darkest and most powerful color of all. It is the most mysterious and sophistication oriented color making it the best option for premium and popular brands. Some of the businesses using the black color are Nike, Addidas, Gucci, Puma, Apple Inc. etc.
Color Psychology Negative Effect of Black
Black can be aloof, secretive, sad, and negative feelings that can intrigue your inner insecurity. It has the potential of depressing you and creating a void within. It is necessary for you to use this color with caution and to balance it with a color like white, yellow etc. The color black can match any color, making it versatile color choice.
Color Psychology of White
White is opposite of the color black and is innocent and self-sufficient. It’s a neat, pure, simple color that evokes the same feeling. Some of the businesses using the color white are Vans, WordPress, Wikipedia, etc.
Color Psychology Negative Effect of White
White is often connected with boring and un-impressive features. White color used alone can easily pass you conscious mind which we do not want. But, when we use it with other colors we can create an influential design that can get instant attention.
Color Psychology for Marketing and Branding
There are many studies that show that color has a huge influence in creating a brand. Human beings are visual animals making it one of the most used channels to influence. Branding and marketing depend highly on visual imagery to promote their brand image and products.
Color appeals to the psychological part of the human brain and creates an influential patch for brands to adapt. The right color for your brand depends on many factors like brand voice, brand image, demographic, culture, industry and much more.
Hi, my name is Shiv Kumar. I’m a blogger, Digital marketer at EveryDesigns and I write on various topics including design, ecommerce, startups, digital marketing, interactive content, and much more. You know, wherever the mood goes.