The Psychology of Color in Branding & Marketing

What colors do you have in your marketing materials? Why did you make that specific choice? Was it merely because you liked those colors, or was it that you wanted to pass a particular message to your customers? When designing a brand, most of the graphic and web designers give attention to two major factors; the design, i.e. the graphics and logos of the site, and the content. However, color too plays a very important part in the design of a website as it defines the mood and emotions of the visitor and reflects your identity and image branding.

Color can be classified as a form of symbolism. This is why we often say a person is green with envy or perhaps red with anger. Colors play a great deal in affecting us psychologically and can thus stimulate our appetite and also suppress it. There are strong colors like red and orange, and peaceful colors like green and blue. So depending on the mood and scheme of your brand, colors have to be chosen wisely. There are companies that spend millions each year on branding. This is often delivered to great effect but requires a great level of planning and insight. The real success comes when a company’s online branding and offline branding delivers a consistent message. So, for example, the colors used in a nationwide retailer should be reflected within their website’s design.

The Impacts a Brand’s Color Has

Regardless of what someone reviews in relation to a company, color choices are critical. Today, many companies have a standard color scheme of which they occasionally make subtle updates. This is used throughout their marketing materials and helps to reinforce the brand message within a customer’s mind. This is also true when updating or designing a new company website. Using the same color scheme will appease existing customers and help keep that level of familiarity. It will also help to avoid confusion. Colors are critical to building the brand’s image, just as logos are. You have to look no further than the retail sector to find clear evidence of this. Many retailers have the same look and feel on their website than they do in their physical stores. Again this provides consistency.

Impacts of Color on Visitors

As consumers, we are exposed to hundreds of brands each day. This affects the way we see and feel about certain companies. This, in turn, sets expectations. So when we visit the site of a well-known brand we expect to see certain things. A large part of this is associated colors. For example with Pepsi, we would expect to see a website containing a blue color scheme while with Coca Cola we would expect to see elements of the color red. It is the designer’s job to meet these expectations.

For many of us, this seems fairly obvious but imagine a site of a well-known brand using a completely different color scheme. This would cause confusion and lead to people questioning the validity of the site. It is also important to think about color tones. Do they match up with the offline color tones used?

Choosing Your Colors

The differing elements of a brand mean that designers often have to make a judgment call on how to use a company’s color scheme. Which colors should feature most prominently and which colors should be used to highlight key areas of the site. These are questions every designer asks themselves and often more can be gleaned from a company’s existing literature. You may, however, decide to move away from this slightly and build upon the brand. These are just some of the considerations designers have to take. The level of freedom a designer has is often dictated by the size of a company but following some of the simple rules above can help deliver a consistent feel to a site. For many of us, our website cannot be placed under one classification. We build them using a mixture of themes to broaden their appeal.To overcome any obstacles, start by acquiring general knowledge and understanding of color psychology and you will make a difference to your brand design.

Let us look at different colors and their symbolism, to help you choose the right color for your brand design.


This is the most stirring of all the colors and its effects on the psyche are not subtle.That being said, it is very important that the red is used carefully when branding. Research has shown that this color can reduce our analytical thinking—it intensifies and speeds up our reactions.It has the longest wavelength of all colors, and it to be nearer than it actually is. It is the color of romance and passion. It tends to boost the appetite and is used in a wide range of colorful terms that are centered on excitement, for example red-handed, red-hot, seeing red, paint the town red. Other traits linked to red color include the following.
Positive symbolism: Passion, love, heat, danger
Negative symbolism: Too much can be seen as aggressive and bloody. Red can also create issues for Colour-blind sufferers


Pink is an obvious color that can be associated with certain qualities. It stands for femininity and also “caring, nurturing, and love.” Light pink is sweet and is usually marketed towards young girls, whereas bright pink color holds sex appeal.
Positive symbolism: Femininity and youth
Negative symbolism: Naivety and weakness


Orange, which carries the feelings of warmth, enthusiasm, and excitement is mostly found in many sports brands.Unlike yellow or red, orange can be used to draw attention—in advertising collateral and traffic cones. Customers associate orange with value. The color orange also evokes comfort like shelter, warmth, and food.
Positive symbolism: Vibrant, warm and autumnal
Negative symbolism: Attention seeking, Deprivation, Immaturity, sluggishness, and ignorance


Yellow is widely considered as a cheerful hue, but too much yellow may also trigger feelings of fear, anger, anxiety, and frustration.Yellow has been shown to increase metabolism and can lift self-esteem when utilized correctly. Yellow is attention-grabbing and stimulating. Advertisements, traffic signs and legal pads take advantage of this. Other feelings triggered by the color yellow are:
Positive symbolism: Sunshine, happiness, growth, and newness
Negative symbolism: Dishonesty, cowardice, betrayal, and illness


Green is a pleasing, calming and restful color.It is used in night vision because our eyes can make out most shades of it.Green represents sexuality, fertility, and nature. A green world is life giving, full of water, and safe. For this reason, green is a reassuring color.
Positive symbolism: Nature, life, growth, good luck, youth, spring
Negative symbolism: Jealousy, envy, and misfortune – Similar to red, color-blindness sufferers swap the 2 shades around


Blue is calming and serene.It’s the color of communication and clarity.Research has shown that blue is most common favorite color in the world’s population, especially by men. It’s the color of the lakes, the oceans, and the sky. This global preference makes blue traditional, conservative, and non-threatening.You can incorporate blue on your brand design as a sign of reliability, and stability.Other emotions attributed to the blue color include:
Positive symbolism: Calm, peaceful, water, harmony, trust, confidence, loyalty; gives energy
Negative symbolism: Sadness, coldness, depression


Purple is a balance of feminine and masculine traits.Reddish purple, then, is patently warm, while bluish purple is patently cool. Purple represents bravery and royalty and connotes sophistication, luxury, and wealth. It is one of the rarest colors hence it can come either as artificial or special. It is the last to be visible and has the shortest wavelength. For this, purple is mostly associated with space and time. It is associated with meditation, contemplation, and spirituality, suggesting imagination and creativity.
Positive symbolism: Royalty, spirituality, passion, and love
Negative symbolism: Cruelty, arrogance, and mourning


Brown is reliable and sturdy, the color of the soil and abundance in nature. It has authenticity and dependability of leather or wood and is preferred more among men than women. It can be sad and wistful but also has quietly supportive overtones.Brown can also show sophistication if it is used correctly. Its other psychological attributes are:
Positive symbolism: Neutral, earthy, outdoors and warm
Negative symbolism: Dirty and dull


Gray is sophisticated and modern a color that has proved to work well for both luxury and technology brands. Its subtlety can be both a weakness and a strength. Correct use of the gray color shows v and power.Gray has profound effects on other colors around it and it works both to establish negative space and to balance tones in lieu of white. Other attributes of the gray color comprise:
Positive symbolism: Can be modern, intelligent, solid and clean
Negative symbolism: Old age, sadness, boring and dull


White is shows reflection and absence, unlike black which is the embodiment of all color and absorption of all light. For this, white has been for long been used as a symbol of innocence and purity.White can be used to showcase sterility and cleanliness in the health care sector. It is modern and is used by popular brands to denote a sleek, chic style.White symbolizes freshness and new beginnings.When used haphazardly, the white color can bring into mind isolation, emptiness, and coldness.
Positive symbolism: Cleanliness, innocence, space, purity, simplicity, peace, snow and goodness
Negative symbolism: Death (in Eastern cultures), cold and sterile


Black is a total absorption of all color.It is a symbol of power. Black is a barrier color: it enshrouds the personality and absorbs energy. It shows an absence of light.Black stands for seriousness, weight, and sophistication. It is effortlessly stylish and timeless.However, it is the color that symbolizes mourning. Other psychological attributes of color black comprise:
Positive symbolism: Power, elegance, magic, mystery, night, sophistication and solid
Negative symbolism: Death, witches, fear, evil, anonymity, unhappiness, sadness, remorse, anger and mourning


Magenta is the color of physical harmony and emotional balance. It is sophisticated but pragmatic. Magenta shows kindness, support, and compassion and is associated with the feeling of contentment and self-respect. Magenta is a color of transformation; from old ideas to new one. Magenta can be well suited to creative, nonconformist endeavors. Other psychological attributes of magenta are:
Positive symbolism: Imaginative,Passion,Transformation,Creative, Innovation,Balance
Negative symbolism: Outrageousness, Flippancy, Nonconformity, Eccentricity, Impulsiveness, Ephemeralness

Using the right color scheme can make a real difference to the perception of your brand, but it is easy to resolve. By following these few simple color tips, you can increase the number of visitors to your website and get the conversions you want. Also, it is recommended that you dedicate your branding needs to the professional graphic/web design agency. Professionals will take into account your brand values, its target market, the product/service you are offering and make educated choices when developing your website and graphic designs.

Thank you for reading!

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