The psychology of color in marketing and branding has always been one of the most interesting and controversial topics that date back to the early years of marketing and the very first advertisements.

Now, color has been always used to persuade people, give them an extra boost to try out the products or services or simply get inside the mind of the consumer and lead them to action. The scientific proof behind this is the fact that colors provoke emotions. Whether it’s a personal preference, a cultural difference, an upbringing aspect of a particular color or some color used in context, the effects colors have on us are tremendous.

For example, did you know that yellow is the happiest color of them all? Or that red is the color primarily used by the food industry – just like blue is used in the health industry?

The truth is, we create links to colors inside our brands – and those links are later on accepted by the marketing world and presented to the world as branding. There have been thousands of studies on how colors affect the consumer response, and the results have been amazing.

Today, we are listing the best ways to use each and every one of the colors in your branding and marketing – and how it may help you provoke emotions and get into the mind of your consumers.

So, let’s begin.

Primary Colors

At first, we focus on the primary colors – yellow, blue and red.

1. Yellow: Optimism, Joy, Clarity, Warmth

If we have to pick one color that sparks with emotion more than any other, it would have to be yellow. Also known as a color that triggers the optimism, confidence, self-esteem, emotional strength, friendliness and creativity in people, yellow is a color with a relatively long wavelength and a potential to stimulate. Psychologically, it is the strongest color and one that lifts your spirit and optimism.

However, yellow can also cause a negative impact if not used in the right way. Too much of the yellow color in your marketing or branding can cause self-esteem to plummet, giving rise to fear, stress and anxiety.

That is why yellow is best used to trigger the appetite in consumers. The appetite for an impulsive decision. In real life situations, we see a lot of yellow warning signs, yellow tracks for buses and yellow taxis – all examples of branding made to provoke attention.

2. Red: Passion, Dynamics, Affection And Love

Red is one of the most dynamic colors out there. It bursts with passion and many people would agree that it’s the color of love. It reflects our physical needs to show affection and love or to portray an error. Red is also the color of our blood which is why humans feel deeply attached to it. Since it is also pretty aggressive, demanding and strong – it is often used as a warning sign and it is actually a lot used to make things noticeable in the digital world.

A lot of brands have chosen red as their primary color, just because of the symbolic approach it has, combining passion, love and survival. From McDonald’s to Coca-Cola, some of the most noticeable brands out there use the color red to position themselves as important and exclusive in the mind of the consumer.

3. Blue: Cool, Reliable, Responsible And Mentally Soothing

Blue is known as the ultimate ‘health-related’ color out there. The truth is, there isn’t a hospital out there that doesn’t use it. Blue is a color that instills trust, reliability, responsibility and mental soothing. Just because of that, it is one of the most-liked colors across the entire world.

However, blue can be also too cool if used improperly. That is why there isn’t a single food or beverages drink that uses it. On the other hand, health institutions, pharmacies and brands that want to position themselves as strong practice it in good amounts.

Overall, blue is a color that brings a sense of calmness, trust and aims at building long-term relationships.

Secondary Colors

Below, you will find why and how powerful the secondary colors (green, purple and orange) are.

4. Green: Balance, Rest, Peace And Harmony

Remember that green yogurt you bought? Or that home for retirees with a green logo and an all-green website?

It’s more than clear that green is a color of balance and harmony. It helps us establish a clearer sense of things. Balanced, logical and emotional, it is also one of the most seen colors in nature, which is why it is used by brands that promote an environmentally-friendly concept or ones reflecting life, rest and peace.

Green can also be a great sight of growth, whether it’s a physical object like a plant or related to finances, income and wealth. Therefore, brands that want to portray stability, health, rest and stress relief should be looking at green. The only minor negative aspects may come with things like over possession and materialism, but in a nutshell, green probably has the most positive effects compared to other colors.

5. Purple: Imagination, Spirituality, Luxury And Royalty

From tarot card reading to astrology and luxury, we see purple as an indicator of creativity and imagination. Some people even see space as purple – hence, they reflect their imagination and creativity with this color. Having the stability and reliability of blue and a bit of passion from the red (as a mixture of both colors), purple is often used to show courage, mystery, magical and luxury.

The most interesting thing about purple is the blend of soothing versus mystery feels. It triggers new ideas and creations while helping you think outside the box. That is why most of the creative agencies choose it as one of their secondary colors. And if you ask yourself why secondary, it’s because a lot of purple can cause distraction or too much introspection.

6. Orange: Power, Energy, Friendliness And Fun

The fact that it combines red’s power and energy with yellow’s fun and friendliness make orange the ideal color for brands promoting a fun taste of products or services. The mixture is a color that is a great representation of physical comfort as well as warmth, food and shelter. Orange is found to stimulate, motivate and lend a positive attitude in people.

That is why a lot of marketers and new brands use orange in their educational materials, courses or blogs. In a way, it goes with their vision of being hip, cool and friendly while motivating others to take action.

Other Colors

‘What about black and white? Or brown, gold and pink?’ – you are thinking.

Here they are.

7. Black: Sophistication, Seriousness, Control And Independence

What makes a Mercedes the ultimate business car? Or a tuxedo the ideal formal attire for men?

It’s the color black, which sparks with sophistication, control and seriousness. And although it can be also used to show the mystery, depression or death, it is a very reserved color. The fact that black is a color that lacks any light as its an absence of all the colors makes it scary as well.

However, aside from the corporate use of black or the distressing aspects of it, this color works perfectly for contrasting things and balancing the branding. Unfortunately, too much of it may cause negativity – which is why going with black requires a lot of control and knowledge of color combinations, just like the color itself.

8. White: Purity, Innocence, Cleanliness And Peace

White is a color that represents completion, purity, innocence and peace. It can also be a powerful color to represent new beginnings especially because of its blank state appeal and instant refreshment for new ideas.

As a secondary color, white is even more powerful. Ideal for a stress-free reading environment or as the main substitute for great content, white can exemplify several meanings or equally outweigh them all. It is a great color for simplicity, cleanliness and idea creation – which is why most of the websites, brochures and catalogs use it as the background.

If overused though, too much white creates emptiness, isolation and loneliness. That is why it is best to balance it with other colors.

9. Brown: Structure, Security And Protection

Although it is definitely not one of the most visually stimulating or engaging colors, brown is still a sign of structure, protection and security. From material possessions to family and friends, it offers constant support and is a quite serious and down-to-earth color. For that reason, many businesses use it instead of overusing the black color.

However, too much brown causes boring, reserving or scheduled feelings – which is why it can be used only when necessary instead of depending on it.

10. Gold: Charm, Luxury And Treasure

Since gold was a treasure brought to the world, the color gold will always represent a variation of charm, confidence, luxury and treasure. Golden necklaces and watches are worn to show off the luxurious way of living. However, gold also has an element of friendliness, prosperity and abundance, just like the natural material that is naturally attractive to people.

Too much gold can cause an egocentric or egoistic feelings, or worse yet a loud, proud and self-righteous approach. Because of that, people use it to highlight things rather than put gold in the center of attention.

Color Psychology In Marketing: Which Color Goes With A Particular Emotion?

Still not sure what color to use in your next marketing strategy, the logo of your business or the background (and elements) of your website?

Maybe these fun facts about the color psychology conducted in a survey can help you? We are briefly listing the results of this study, carefully linking the colors with the emotions they provoke below.

  • Trust: People chose the color blue (34%) as the ultimate color of trust, followed by white (21%) and green (11%)
  • Security: The color blue is the most ‘secure’ one according to people (28% of them), followed by black (16%) and green (12%)
  • Speed: Red has been the all-time favorite when it comes to speed,  according to more than three-quarter of the people asked (76%)
  • Affordability: Orange was on top when it comes to something cheap (26%), with yellow (22%) and brown (13%) being the other options in the top three
  • High Quality: Clearly, the sophisticated feeling of black (43%), followed by blue (20%) made people perceive colors with high quality
  • High Tech: The results when it comes to hi-tech colors were split with black as the top choice (26%) followed by the evenly represented blue and gray (both 23%) in terms of the votes received
  • Reliability: Blue is the most reliable color (43%), and black comes second on the list (24%)
  • Courage: Purple is the sign of courage according to results (29%), followed by red (28%), and blue (22%)
  • Fear/Terror: Blood-related or not, people see red as the ultimate terror color (41%) followed by black (38%)
  • Fun: Obviously, orange is the most fun color (28%), winning a battle against yellow (26%) and purple (17%)

So, What Have We Learned?

It’s fair to say that in content marketing, colors do more than just provoking emotions. They are the most vital aspects of every business, its branding and marketing. The truth is, a person can feel attached to a brand with only seeing its colors – or distracted by it in the same manner.

Color helps brands to stand out, show their real value and help people understand what they are all about. They are what gets the audience to read, listen, discover, feel, see and do what they want to do afterwards. From usability to readability, color is very important in content marketing. In fact, some of the award-winning and bestselling pieces use it as a ‘secret weapon’ that is as important to their success as much as the content.

We hope that this post will help you understand the basic psychology of colors and how they affect your marketing and branding. Oh, and if you want to play around with some colors, don’t be afraid to do that right now – only on DesignBold!

Good luck!