The Psychology of Color: Why it Matters for your Business
Did you know that the average customer decides whether or not they like a product in under 90 seconds? Well, 85% of that decision is influenced by color alone!
Have you noticed how you feel relaxed when you walk into a spa? or sophisticated when you’re wearing black? This is not just a coincidence! Artists have proven over and over again how colors convey messages, and thus dramatically influence your feelings and emotions.
“Color is a power which directly influences the soul” – Wassily Kadinsky
As a matter of fact, the impact of colors is so remarkable that it has become a huge topic of research for psychologists and an incredibly advantageous tool for marketers.
The Psychology of Color
This field of psychology focuses on studying how humans respond —consciously and unconsciously— to colors. And even if color association and the influence that they have on people may depend on several factors, such as context, culture, gender, and age, specialized psychologists also attempt to determine the arrays of emotions that different hues evoke in people.
Therefore, understanding the basics of color psychology will not only make you a better communicator, but it will also make you aware of the emotions triggered by the colors in your environment.
Color Psychology and Your Business
Did you know the average customer decides whether or not they like a product in under 90 seconds? 85% of such decisions are influenced by color alone!
This is the reason why we want to encourage you to concentrate on colors when you think about your branding! Selecting the right palette for your brand and products is crucial to effectively communicating the identity of your company.
Just imagine that you have an online shop of high-end vegan body lotions, and you go for a bright yellow landing page. Theoretically, it would captivate the attention of your visitors, but that does not imply that they would stay for long. Therefore, your conversion rate would be considerably low.
Why? Because the chosen color simply doesn't match your product or the identity of your company. And we´re not talking about picky customers deliberately arriving at the same conclusion, but about the fact that this decision is computed unconsciously in your customers´ brains.
The bottom-line is: poorly chosen colors lead to poor sales.
It is not only about making your product stand out from the rest, but about matching it with the essence of your brand.
And, because we want you to get the most out of this powerful tool, we have taken the liberty to prepare an overview of the most used colors in marketing – their meaning and purpose —alongside straightforward examples of how widely known companies have used them for their branding.
Black is one of the colors whose meaning varies most across cultures. It can be associated with mystery, elegance, and sophistication. But on the other hand, it can also summon feelings of depression and pessimism.
Because of its simplicity, this color has an outstanding ability to harmonize environments. When used correctly, it can make you feel protected, strong, formal and even seductive!
Black symbolizes power. It’s an intimidating color that sets itself apart from the others. It indicates strength and discipline, which makes you perceive objects in black as superior.
The downside of black is that you could unintentionally stir up memories of loss and mourning. That is why you have to be careful if you decide to incorporate this color into your palette!
“Less is more ©” being the tagline of the renown fashion brand Chanel, black was chosen to communicate the elegance and sophistication that the company stands for. This monochromatic design is the epitome of luxury and simplicity!
Blue is one of the three primary colors. It is non-invasive and it promotes peace and serenity.
Often described as orderly and clean, you tend to perceive it as a mentally soothing and stimulating color. Because of this, blue environments have proven to enhance productivity.
You associate blue with authority, trust, and dependability. That is why law enforcing organisms and security companies across the globe prefer this color.
However, the negative side of blue is that it can appear cold, unfriendly and even depressive. Which is exactly why the expression ´feeling blue´ refers to the ability it has to make you feel sad.
The best thing about blue is that it is one of the very few colors that is favored by people of all ages. While it suggests authority and professionalism, it can also stand for intelligence, communication and security.
Intel, the world's largest manufacturer of PC microprocessors features a logo in light blue, which symbolizes the company's power in the minds of its customers. The color enhances the name´s ability to appeal to the intellect of people and helps to sell the idea of productivity.
This color is usually associated with resilience, security and safety. Its earthy hues remind us about our connections to our home and our family. It is a natural color that inspires warmth and comfort.
On the other hand, brown can be considered dull since it leaves little room for spontaneity and lacks energy and spirit. At times, it is associated with passiveness and it could even evoke feelings of numbness and sadness.
Unlike black, brown is not about luxury and sophistication but about the fundamental needs in life. Brown invites you to cherish the little things!
Brown does not seek to stand out. Although it tends to blend in the environment, it never loses its power.
This color would be the way to go if your products are related to food and the environment.
Even if it is a color that can't guarantee you mind-blowing sales, it can help you communicate reliability and resilience to your target audience. Which could considerably improve your relationship with customers.
M&M´s is known for its colorful candies and humorous advertising campaigns. Like chocolate, the company's logo is brown, which conveys warmth and exhorts customers to enjoy the little things in life.
Gray is an unresponsive color, it is neutral, strong, and steady. It is frequently regarded as the color of conformism and hesitation. It doesn’t invigorate or empower you.
Being both still and emotionless, gray alleviates you from a chaotic and unpredictable world. It can reflect intelligence, modesty, futurism, as well as boredom and monotony.
Gray is connected with maturation – mainly linked to old age – and duty.
While it can look exquisite if you know how to use it, gray will hardly be captivating.
Nevertheless, if gray approaches dark, it becomes extraordinary, almost mysterious. But if mixed with light, it emulates silver and becomes highlighting and dynamic.
According to its mission statement, Wikipedia´s purpose is to act as a ´free and widely accessible encyclopedia´ on all branches of knowledge. Wanting to be perceived as wise and organized, the company picked shades of gray for its palette.
Being the most abundant color in nature, green is the color of life! It stands for growth and renewal. Your brain associates it with refreshment, harmony, and equilibrium.
Green evokes positive energy, it is a symbol of health and abundance. And most importantly, green promotes a balance in your brain that leads to lucidity.
It is no wonder why you feel recharged after spending time outdoors, for green is the perfect color when you are trying to clear your mind and get an energy boost!
When you think about the trigger word ´go´, you instinctively picture green. Just imagine how powerful green is!
Thanks to its connotations, companies providing financial services, healthy or eco-friendly products have opted for this color.
Generally speaking, it’s hard to go wrong with green. With so many hues, it is a super flexible option!
Like many eco-friendly, organic and outdoor recreation organizations, Whole Foods Market chose a green logo. Most connotations of this color — such as nature, freshness, and growth —match perfectly the brand´s soul.
Because it is the combination of red – energy – and yellow – joy – orange is a very active color that drives your awareness to the present moment.
It is the color that pulls you out of disappointment and sorrow, it snaps you out of the limbo. Because of what this color provides you, its daily use is highly encouraged!
Orange is naturally positive and invigorating. It inspires you to take action, increasing your competitiveness and your willingness to assume risks. It is an extrovert color.
Moreover, it ignites creativity and propels communication. But among its negative connotations, you will find that it can be regarded as cheap, dependent, exhibitionist, and overly proud.
While orange objects definitely attract eyeballs aplenty, you should only go for this color if your brand entails light, fun, and socialization!
The Home Depot being the largest home improvement retailer in the United States strives to become the perfect ´one-stop shopping for the do-it-yourselfer´. Therefore, the company selected orange to inspire creativity and come across reliable, active, social, and affordable.
Pink is a very controversial color. Depending on the culture, it can represent femininity, sweetness, nurture and even shallowness.
Just as red, pink can symbolize love. But the difference between these two colors is that, while red evokes passion and lust – romantic love –, pink promotes tenderness.
This color also suggests youth, naivete and innocence. A strong indicator of optimism, pink represents hope and at times, neglection of reality.
If you find the right combination, pink can have a soothing effect on people. It embraces vulnerability and delicacy, making it a very welcoming color. If used otherwise, it can be irritating and exacerbate feelings of invasiveness, particularly in men.
In western societies, pink is an indicator of gender. Countless organizations whose target customers are women, tend to over-use this strategy. Nevertheless, pink is linked to masculine traits in some Asian cultures.
Use it wisely!
Being a magazine for women, Cosmopolitan´s most famous version of its logo is pink. Considering that the company aims to encourage young women to ´think differently about themselves´ and become a fresh and funny platform for its readers, it is safe to say that they nailed it!
A secondary color, purple, is a mixture of blue and red. Like the latter, you tend to associate it with power and luxury. But, unlike red´s tendency to indicate ambition and the acquisition of goods, purple errs towards nobility.
Just as history recounts, the most powerful royals opted for wearing purple gowns to represent grace, independence and dignity.
The blue hues of purple give you a sense of stability and relaxation. It is also the color of wisdom. These undertones are known to provide you with a soothing effect that is powerful enough to lower your blood pressure.
Also, purple can stand for magic and mysticism. It triggers curiosity and inspires creativity, it is the color you need when you want to come up with new ideas!
As a streaming platform, Roku wants to provide its customers content they will love, thus fabricating moments of leisure. The color of choice pretends to generate curiosity and stand out from the crowd.
Being the most intense primary color, red is the most evocative one on the visible spectrum. Regardless of context and culture, the meaning of red is extremely intense and highly polarized.
Of all colors, red is the most physiologically suggestive. It has been proven to raise your blood pressure, improve your metabolism, and even accelerate your breathing.
Red being the color of blood, it attracts your attention much faster than the rest. Which is precisely why most countries around the world use it to signify danger.
Asides from expressing love, red can also relate to lust, passion, and sexuality.
Red is the ultimate attention getter. So, if you plan to adopt it into your palette remember that, while it can promote enthusiasm and love for life, you should also consider its downside.
Among red´s negative aspects, you will find that it can also refer to dominance, aggression and stress. Therefore, deal with red in moderation!
Because you cannot easily ignore objects in red, in most cultures it has become the classic choice for targets. Target, the famous retailer, decided to take advantage of this and go for a very straight-forward design.
White is made of all the colors in the spectrum. Unquestionably, it stands for purity, cleanliness, innocence, and integrity.
Since the beginning of times, it has been the color of choice to dress high priests and people undergoing religious rituals. Nowadays, white is predominantly used in the health-care sector as an indicator of sanitation.
You perceive white as perfection! It represents a clean slate and leaves room for creation. It encourages creativity, reflection, and awakening. But maybe the very best thing about it is its neutrality towards everything.
If employed wisely, it brings comfort and hope. White can bring a sense of order and minimalism into your mind. But like everything, an excess of it can have a negative effect along the lines of emptiness and loneliness.
White can be your savior from the dark side but it could also condemn you to feel distant and cold.
Nonetheless, when it comes to designing a logo, the use of white can be somewhat tricky. Since it isn't possible to have it as a stand-alone color, a white logo should always be complemented by a colored background.
Therefore, if you´re seriously considering going for white, you will need to take into account other traits of your company to select a supporting color.
And last but not least, remember to plan for a black — or a single color— version of your logo for when you need to use it on a white background!
Mini, the British car manufacturer aims to deliver safety, technology, and simplicity. This combination of traits led the firm to create a minimalistic white logo supported by a black background alongside its version for a white background.
Classic black and white logos can be perceived as elegant and dignified.
Being the brightest color of the spectrum, yellow never goes unnoticed! Like sunshine, yellow is light and creative. It incentivizes happiness and optimism.
Psychologists argue that yellow has a positive impact on the left hemisphere of your brain! It can unblock your thoughts and help you find rational solutions.
This color boosts your self-esteem and ego. Yellow is an ambassador for fun, energy, and joy. It is always very dynamic!
However, if you overdo it, yellow can provoke anxiety and come across impatient, selfish, impulsive, and critical.
For almost half a century, Post-it has helped people be more productive and creative. For its logo, the firm decided to emulate its main product. The yellow sticky note that can´t go unnoticed, invites you to unclog your thoughts and scribble your ideas!
In a nutshell
- Color is much more than just a visual experience.
- Thanks to color psychology, it is safe for us to say that when it comes to communication, color is unbeatable.
- Color can be your best ally or your worst enemy.
- Selecting poor colors might lead to poor sales.
- Studying the colors used by your competitors can give you an accurate idea of what works and what doesn´t.
So now you know that picking the colors for your branding and marketing is not something that you should take lightly. Luckily, you don't have to go through this alone!
Even if you have a clear idea of what colors stand for and the perks they can bring you, talking to a professional designer who understands your market and product will always give you better insights and help you harness the full potential of colors.
Here at Tenscope, we work with many incredible designers and industry experts who will be happy to lend you a strategic hand! Instead of following the crowd, we want to help you focus on creating a timeless design that fits your needs and communicates your corporate essence! Book a Demo now to find out how we can help you!