Everybody is talking about color psychology and how to use it for branding and marketing. And here I am, stuck with white paper, thinking on how to fill it with black words. Such a black and white life of mine. Can you imagine a life with black and white colors only?
Did I make you cringe?
Does it scare you?
Or did you remember the days of black & white movies?
Observe what I did to you. I made you feel emotions through the power of colors. That’s what I am trying to explain since the beginning of this article.
Colors Provoke Emotions
All my life, I thought that design and images make us feel. But I never paid attention to colors playing an important role as a design. In fact, colors are responsible for changing your emotional state. Think of how refreshed you feel, at one minute, when you see trees and grass (green color). In another minute, you feel calm by seeing a still lake (blue color).
“Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions”
No wonder, successful brands understand the psychology of color in marketing and branding of their products. They know well how to take maximum advantage of human emotions through colors. If you have ever watched any marketing or branding material closely, you would know how their colors convince users to take instant action, without giving it a second thought.
If you are still wondering how big brands do it, and how you can follow a similar path.
Soon you will learn the secret of all colors, and how to utilize them for branding and marketing purpose.
Let’s begin with decoding the color psychology with different types of colors and their emotional effect on human beings.
Basically, there are 3 types of colors used in marketing- Primary Colors, Secondary Colors, and Other Colors.
1. Yellow – Positivity, Energy, Warmth, and Attention like a Morning Sun
Because of its brightness, yellow color evokes strong feelings of positivity, self-esteem, confidence, emotional strength, and creativity. If overused, it gives rise to strong feelings of fear, stress, anxiety, and other depressing emotions.
Either way, yellow possess the power of grabbing instant attention. But because of its negative impact, only food brands use it to trigger consumer appetite resulting in an impulsive decision. It’s an all-time choice of food industries to catch users’ eyes and increase their appetite.
Even if the food industry overuse this color on their food images, it won’t have a negative impact as nothing is wrong with feeling like binge-eating.
2. Red: Vibrant, Passionate, Affection, and Love like Red Flowers
I notice people in love often found to buy red colored things like clothing, accessories, heart-shaped red color key chains, etc. You will see them selling the same things while facing a breakup. It’s the effect of red color. Red color provokes emotion depending on the situation of humans. It can be as exciting as new love and as aggressive as a deep pain in the heart. But alike yellow, Red grabs instant attention.
Red is like two sides of the coin which is why brand’s use it delicately to capture users’ attention without waking their painful emotions. Food industries and gift industries use this color safely to trigger the passion for eating and creating caring feelings for others among users.
3. Blue: Calm, Cool, Responsible, and Reliable like Blue Ocean
Ever saw a deep blue ocean? How did you feel? Peaceful or calm.
It’s the smell of ocean supported by the blue color that makes you feel calm, cool, and soothing.
Blue is a nature-friendly color. Look around yourself and you surely will find something blue like blue sky. Or rains, my favorite.
Because of its responsible and calming nature, blue is a go-to color for health industries and a brand with goals of taking care of people while building trust. Like Facebook. The brand does take care of you by connecting you with people living afar. It gives you an opportunity to share your emotions and achievements with the whole world.
Of course, blue is more of serene nature, but icy, distant, and cold nature are its other side. Food industries stay away from blue because of its icy nature.
4. Green: Refresh, Peace, Balance, and Growth like Garden
People love to visit places full of greenery whenever they feel overburdened from work. Their intention is to get refreshed so that they can start their personal and professional life again with renewed feelings. Green restores energy, balance, and harmony in a natural way. Environment-friendly brands prefer green to trigger peaceful feelings among users.
Green is also a color of growth. Remember, Garden. Everything is growing there ranging from a little plant to trees. It impels financial brands to use green color as a promise of growing wealth.
The only negative property of green is over-possession giving rise to powerful feelings among users, yet at the same time, they feel envy.
5. Purple: Spiritual, Imaginative, Mysterious, and Royal like Sapphire
Purple is a rare color. That’s why it is viewed as precious and royal. It also invokes mysterious, spiritual, and imaginative feelings. Remember those movies where people were fighting over a sapphire? Those movies were the combination of all emotions including a rare gem, mysteries, royalty, imagination, and spirituality.
Too much purple can create a distraction so brands prefer to use it with the mixture of other colors, not as the primary color.
Some rare food industries, rich gift industries, gems industries, etc., use purple color to reveal their richness and royalty.
6. Orange: Energetic, Fun, Enthusiasm and Power like Autumn
Orange is another eye-catchy color. It infuses users with fun and energy feelings.
Because of its attention catching properties, some brands use this color to give strict warnings or signals like traffic signs.
Brands who want to reveal themselves as a part of the fun will definitely use orange color in their advertisements. Some of the ads I remember are of Fanta and Scooty.
Where fun comes, motivation follows behind. That’s why Orange is the choice of education brands who want to make users feel motivated for learning something new while enjoying it at the same time.
7. Black: Power, Control, Seriousness, and Sophistication like Men in Black
Ever attended a party with a black color dress code? How did you feel?
You must have felt like surrounded by power, and that same power settling in your heart through emotions.
Black is the color of maturity, control, and the seriousness with a pinch of sophistication. I watch Suits series where powerful people always wear black. I go through all such emotions.
Black’s seriousness also implies to depression and death. Consider funeral.
But who doesn’t want the feel of Mercedes?
Brands offering corporate products use black to make you feel the power of control and sophistication. But they make sure not to overdo the color as it will result in negative feelings.
8. White: Peace, Purity, Innocence, and Cleanliness like Pearls
You must be thinking that if white has all such properties why it comes under “other colors” category, why not the primary color. After all, who doesn’t want peace in this world full of chaos? Because overwhelming peace also results in loneliness.
Depending on their nature, some users see white as pure and serene while others feel empty, cold, and lonely.
Any brand can use it but only with the combination of other colors. In fact, white is used to balance the designs. White Space is a primary principle of graphic design. It is used to leave some empty space in designs to prevent overflowing of colors. In short, white is used to maintain peace and clarity among other colors.
9. Brown: Stable, Structured, Security, and Strength like Mountains
After the greenery, mountains are the second choice of people who want to gain back their strength. I love the combination of greenery and mountains implying renewal with strength.
Brown is a symbol of stability and strength. People feel secure under a mountain and tree as they save the world from disasters. Brown is a supportive color offering strength which is why you see families adopting such color in the form of furniture.
Brands with supportive products prefer brown as their color but they never use it as primary color because it awakes boredom or robotic feelings if overused. So it is used as part of other colors or in combination with other colors. Say for e.g. furniture can offer comfort to families, but it is not a major part of the home.
10. Gold: Charm, Luxurious, Status, and Treasure like a Queen’s Necklace
Since ages gold is considered as a treasure. The custom is still going on. Only now it is named as an investment yet considered as a treasure. Something one must save for a lifetime. At one side, it depicts charms, confidence, luxury, and show-off. At another side, it gives rise to a feeling of craving more, greed, ego, proud, and self-righteous approach. That’s why gold is used like sprinkling on main colors to highlight something. It can’t be the center of attention unless you are a brand selling gold and silver or something equally rich.
And we are finished with the psychology of colors and their emotional effect on humans. It’s time to learn how to put colors to use for marketing and branding.
You must have known by now that each color has its two sides – positive and negative. A simple formula to avoid its negative effect is to prevent overuse of any color. Balance is the key to fill adequate colors in marketing and branding strategies.
How to use Color Psychology in Marketing to trigger Particular Emotions?
Faber Birren, the author of color psychology, has conducted a little survey on which color people choose for a particular emotion.
Trust: 34% of people chose blue as their color of trust, followed by 21% with white and 11% Green.
Security: 28% think that blue makes them feel more secure while 16% remained with black as their security color, followed by 12% with green
Speed: 76% of people feel to work speedily when they see the red color
Affordable: 26% of people saw things with orange colors as affordable, followed by 22% with yellow, and 13% with brown.
High-Quality: Black wins here with the vote of 43% as a high-quality color with blue comes next selected by 20%.
High-Tech: When it comes to high-tech color, 26% of people chose black while 23% remained with blue and gray equally.
Reliability: Again blue wins here with 43% of people for reliability and black stood second with 24% people.
Courage: 29% of people feel courageous when faced with purple color, followed by 28% with red and 22% with blue.
Fear: 41% feel fear from red color, followed by black with 38%.
Fun: 28% think that orange is the color of fun and joy, followed by yellow with 26% and purple 17%.
Keep balance as the center of your marketing strategy, when you consider colors to be a part of it. Next thing is to jot down which emotions you want to trigger among users through your brand? Is it motivation? Fun? Happiness? Or Peace?
Even if you want to trigger a couple of emotions, no worries, write them down. In fact, your brand will have a higher impact with color combination triggering multiple emotions at the time. Users can deny a single emotion but they less likely to deny multiple emotions which makes them take action towards your products.
Once you have a combination of colors and emotions align, use them in your marketing strategy.