Choosing the right palette: The role of color psychology in branding

Business owners understand the critical role branding plays in capturing the attention and loyalty of their target audience. However, have you ever stopped to consider the power of color in shaping your brand’s identity? Color psychology, the study of how colors influence emotion and behavior, holds the key to unlocking the true potential of your brand. Understanding the psychological impact of different colors can help to create a brand identity that resonates with your customers, drives engagement and, ultimately, boosts your bottom line. 

In a scholarly article by Andrew Elliot, the significant role of colors in psychology is emphasized, highlighting that certain colors can manifest emotional experiences, affect cognitive orientation and create overt reactions in the viewer. Colors possess a subliminal persuasive force that can sway opinions and behaviors. The proper use of color has been found to increase brand recognition by 80% and raises visual appeal by 93%. In fact, color is so influential that 85% of consumers will base their purchasing decisions on this factor, according to colorpsychology.org

To truly understand color psychology and how to apply it, we have broken down the key factors influencing brands through color. These factors are the composites of brand coloring that are well understood by public relations professionals and must be considered to ensure successful messaging through branding.

Color symbolism

While colors may not seem so emotionally persuasive, the psychological impact from the visualization of certain colors directly affects your mood and can even ignite different parts of the brain. However, the question being posed is what about certain colors is causing varying reactions? The answer to this question lies in the wavelength of light produced by certain colors. Colors composed of longer wavelengths can create the feeling of warmth and arousal while shorter wavelengths create the feeling of relaxation or coolness. The research of color and its effect on the mind has influenced organizations and their branding teams for decades. For a full list of colors and what they represent, click here.

Brand personality and color

When thinking of colors for your brand, consider the product or service, the target audience and what feeling you are trying to evoke. Chase Bank, USAA and Navy Federal utilize blue for their logos. This emits the feeling of loyalty, dependability and security one would expect from a bank. However, a brand like Barbie™ utilizes pink in its brand. This positive color pulls the feeling of creativity and innovation. Truly the perfect pick for a brand of diverse dolls promoting Barbie as a “you can be anything” character.

Cultural considerations

It is important to consider the target demographic and region of the world your product reaches. Depending on the culture, colors have different meanings. In the 1950s, Pepsi switched its traditional blue can color to an icy blue design in Southeast Asian Vending machines to promote a refreshing and thirst-quenching look. However, in that region, pale blue represents death and sadness. Because of this fatal error, the company saw a rapid decline in sales. While intentions were good, mistakes like this can easily be avoided by researching not just the meaning of an overall color but the shades of colors as well.

Color tint and shading

The shade of a color can change the conveyed feeling of a product instantly. While a grassy green shade emotes the feeling of health, a neon version of green reminds one of a Monster energy can. Certainly not providing the same healthy green feeling. While both of these colors are green, the contrast in shade and brightness creates an entirely different effect. Different shades within a single color have the power to evoke specific emotions and associations with consumers. In a study, 92.6% of consumers reported that the dimension of color was the most influential factor affecting their purchase decision.

Color context and pairing

While certain colors on their own may create one emotion or feeling, sometimes combining colors creates a whole new feeling entirely. Utilizing color shading when combining colors can elevate your brand and capture the eye of your audience. A common approach when combining colors is to utilize complementary colors, which are opposing colors on the color wheel. This method creates a sense of stability and even contrast between colors. Another approach is to use analogous colors, which are next to each other on the color wheel. With this method, ultimately one color will stand out as the primary and draw the eye in. 

Even though there are many factors to consider when choosing the right brand and logo, the power of color in this decision should not be overlooked. By harnessing the psychological power of color, brands can create powerful and memorable experiences that drive consumer engagement and lead to greater success in today’s competitive market.