Color is something that we might initially think of as purely an aesthetic choice. However, this discussion has been in marketing and branding enough that it can be one of the most interesting aspects of marketing – and with a hefty amount of controversy.
Here, at LogoCorps, we specialize in making your business into a fully fledged brand, and one of the key areas of focus for us is to understand how color psychology in branding matters, more than one might think! So, it is important that go beyond just superficial discussions of colors and go deeper into the conversation rather than just wavering along the shallow discussions of red versus blue.
What is Color Psychology?
Color psychology is the study of how colors affect us, specifically, the way we behave when we see colors, as well as how we perceive them. You might have come across this phenomenon most often in poetry or literature, or even in some other form of media, such as songs. The expression, ‘feeling blue?’ is a direct reference to color psychology, in that blue is often representative of sadness.
It is because of this, that we identify bright colors with happiness and fun, grey and dull colors with flatness and dullness, and dark colors for sadness and grief. Red, for example, stands out, and is striking, whereas black blends into the background. Orange and yellow hues evoke enthusiasm and energetic excitement, etc.
The Psychology of Color in Marketing
In marketing and branding, color and color psychology have a similar use case, in that it is used to determine our behaviors and perceptions regarding color from the context of branding and marketing. The use of color psychology in a logo, for example, could help understand what kind of logo to make. Coca Cola, as an example, has white text on a red background. That alone is a very unique color blend that, in fact, does not blend with the environment at all, making it stand out more among every other brand logo from a marketing and psychological perspective.
However, that is not to say that colors have a universally accepted meaning, which is where color psychology comes in. The psychology of color also determines that personal experience matters in this regard, where simply personal preferences of a certain color might give an individual an inherent bias for or against a certain color, making it difficult for color psychology in branding to be applied.
Making the Best Decision for Your Brand Color Psychology and Logo Design
This is where our experience at LogoCorps comes into play. Simply think of a color, for example, green, and how it can be applied to various areas outside of just one specific use case. Green for corporations means something environmental, or environmental friendliness. It can also mean calm and serene, as it represents nature. Green is also the color most associated with profits and finances, while in some industries, green is toxic or toxic waste, quite literally.
These myriads of interpretations can make it difficult for any marketing or branding agency to determine the best color scheme to choose for their brand or their brand logo. So, if the solution is not always apparent that concrete decisions can be made, let us turn towards more practical solutions.
Choose an Appropriate Color over the Right One
If you ask yourself the question of ‘what color should I pick for my brand,’ there is no simple answer. You have to also determine what it is that your brand or business does and what they partake in. For example, if your brand is a pharmaceutical brand, then choosing colors associated with sickness will be considered inappropriate for your brand, and so, you should choose colors representing health instead.
For instance, yellow and green are often associated with sickness—a rather strange juxtaposition from their association with health. Light blue or aquamarine color, however, represents life and tranquility as its opposite. That points to how in the context of health, blue switches from sadness to health while green switches from nature to sickness.
This is the primary association that should be taken into consideration when deciding the appropriate color for your brand. Put some research into what that color means not just to you, but to everyone else in general. The psychology of color changes according to context and experiences, and while they both can vary, context can be easier to understand and grasp when you take into account your own business or brand.
Use the Right Color for your Brand Personality
Yes! You have chosen a color, but wait. We are not done yet.
Now that you have aligned your brand and its color scheme in accordance with external forces, you also have to consider internal forces, which is your brand personality.
Your brand personality is what drives purchase intent, though it is a major driver rather than an exclusive one, meaning that other factors also have a role in it. Colors affect how your brand is perceived, and how your brand is perceived can also depend on how you want your brand personality to be represented.
This is where you harken back to the initial discussion regarding color psychology in branding, where we talk about how certain colors are representative of specific elements; such as green displaying nature and brown displaying roughness, most often natural.
At the same time, you want your brand’s personality and color scheme to complement each other rather than look to simply make it something about aligning with the pre-associated elements of a color. Green can represent something natural, but unless your brand specifically wants to go green with something in a way that reflects its personality, then it might be wise to consider something else.
Consider Your Target Audience and their Color Psychology
In color psychology in branding, Jennifer L. Aaker determined five dimensions of brand personality on the color spectrum that are representative of certain emotions. They were;
- Sincerity – Aqua, Light Blue
- Excitement – Red, Pink
- Competence – Green
- Sophistication – Purple
- Ruggedness – Yellow
This also comes with the consideration that a brand personality has multiple traits and emotions that it could be associated with, meaning that you don’t have to choose a specific color, but that you need one that can be described and can stand out enough.
Apart from emotions, biological differentiators, such as gender, can also determine one’s preference of a certain color. For example, it has been a long-standing and societally accepted element that boys (masculine) prefer blue, and that girls (feminine) prefer pink. Moreover, later on, men (masculine) preferred darker colors, whereas women (feminine) preferred brighter colors. This shows a gender preference pattern as well.
Consider Your Target Audience and their Color Psychology
Next consideration is your own competitors. Chances are that they either already have a color appropriate for that emotion, or that there are enough competitors that simply being another player in the game might make matters worse for you. So, now is the time to consider using color to differentiate your brand from the crowd rather than sticking to a norm.
For example, brown is not very well used in branding and logos. Only certain brands with very close associations with their products use brown in their color scheme. Brands that sell chocolate, coffee, and similar items are ones that use it the most, such as Hershey’s and m&ms. Even Cadbury, one of the most well recognized chocolate brands, uses purple and golden in its color aesthetic, one largely associated with sophistication and luxuriousness to create a brand personality of that suave nature. The lesson here is that you don’t need a certain color to be viable for your brand, but to stand out and have a color appropriate for your brand personality that fits well with it.
Lastly, Look at the Color Spectrum
This is the simple and most effective way of determining which color goes with what. Most brands rely on opposites to pick a certain color. For example, Cadbury uses purple and gold, and purple and gold are both placed on opposite ends of the color spectrum. Similarly, colors that are close together on this spectrum, such as red and orange, also gel well together.
The psychology of color in branding is a complicated topic. When it comes to choosing a color, even if you do use as much color psychology as you can, you do not always have one universally correct answer. Instead, you have to do your research, determine what color fits with your brand, its personality, the perceived emotion, the associated elements, as well as in accordance to existing competitors.