Color is a critical component of creating your brand identity. Research shows that 62‐90% percent of people’s assessment of products is based on color alone. With these staggering statistics, it’s important to consider color psychology when choosing colors for your logo and branding.
Color is memorable. Think about the red NetFlix envelopes that used to appear in your mailbox. Without even seeing the name, you knew it was NetFlix.
Color can be distinct. Nearly everyone recognizes the Tiffany blue. Tiffany’s has successfully built its brand around that specific shade of blue. In fact, they trademarked the color and it has its own Pantone number (1837, the year the company was founded). Because of the memorable color, the rest of Tiffany’s visual identity is simple. They have a wordmark logo not have a graphic symbol, and yet they have one of the most well-recognized brand identities.
Understand the color psychology of your choice
Whether you’re picking the primary one or two colors for your logo, or an expanded group of secondary colors, make sure you understand the color psychology of each.
Color references from nature. Some color references are rooted deep in our human psyches. Red, for example, is suggestive of blood. Seeing blood could indicate a life-threatening injury. Red is also the color of our face when we flush with embarrassment, in anger or from exertion. Therefore red is a very emotional color. In nature, green indicates the growth of trees and food and has many positive and calming effects. These deep associates are difficult to overcome. For example, it’s difficult to create a brand that should feel calming if you use a lot of red.
Color references from corporate branding. In addition to these nature-based color references, some brands become so well-known that their corporate colors become associated with the traits of their brand. These types of references are much more geographic and culturally based. These types of references are generally well-known to certain groups of people, and may be lesser-known to others.
McDonald’s golden arches, Starbuck’s green logo, or Home Depot’s orange type are examples of brands that are broadly known throughout America. It’s important to understand the associations’ people have with these colors if you’re considering using a similar color. For example, McDonald’s is known for food that is fast and cheap, but not healthy or well-cooked.
Color psychology and important references for each color
Red can reference love, hate and sex and are used by powerful brands like Tesla and many healthcare companies.
Pink is mostly used by female-focused brands, but has also been used by progressive brands like Lyft.
Orange alerts us to danger and is high-energy, famous orange logos include Home Depot and Harley Davidson.
Yellow is cheerful and fun like MailChimp, or rugged like Caterpillar.
Green often connotes nature and used by many natural and agricultural brand, but also can refer to money.
Blue is viewed as conservative and trustworthy, and is used by most water brands to show purity.
Purple suggests royalty and fantasy, but is now being used by several tech companies.
Black can be mournful, rebellious or elegant.
What’s the best color for your brand?
Keep three things in mind when selecting your brand colors to avoid making common mistakes that many people make when choosing the colors for their branding.
The best colors for your brand are colors that:
- Visually connects with the benefits or experience of your brand
- Are appealing to your ideal customers
- Are distinct from your competition
1. Find a color that brings to mind a vision of your brand
A strong visual identity accurately represents your brand—it is suggestive of what you offer, your product’s benefits, or how you make your customers feel.
- A relaxing oceanside inn might use calming colors from the ocean and sand—blues and tans.
- An all-natural cafe might use colors found in tropical flowers—fuschias, oranges, and greens.
- A law firm might choose navy blue if it wants to promote a traditional, conservative practice (or orange if you want to show that you are different).
The secret is to using color psychology to create the best logo or branding is to focus on the brand traits that you want to bring to mind. Whether you are considering red, pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple or black, it’s important to understand the references and color psychology associated with each color.
2. Attract your ideal customer
Secondly, you want to choose colors that are attractive to your potential buyers.
You may have noticed that most toy stores and candy stores are filled with lots of bright, energetic colors. These express the fun of their brands and also are attractive to children. As an adult, you may find neon-blue candy unappealing, many school-age boys and girls love it.
Finding the right color should come after you’ve determined who is most likely to buy from you—also known as your ideal customer. Is it suburban moms, environmentally conscious millennials, or retired executives?
3. Stand out from the competition
Before you settle on your brand colors, make sure you look at what your competitors are doing.
Review the logo, website, packaging, decor, signage, or uniforms for other products and services that your prospects may be comparing you against.
It can take multiple—some say as many as eight—impressions before someone recognizes and trusts your brand. As a small business owner, you likely don’t have the budget for high-exposure marketing campaigns. So, you don’t want your brand forgotten or overlooked because it’s not distinct from other businesses.
Be consistent with your color, and make sure it stands out from your competitors.
Tip: With a Branding Compass Comprehensive Report, you’ll get recommendations for colors that reflect your brand vision. You can also learn more about your ideal customer and see how you compare to your competitors.