Color Psychology: The Nine Color Families and the Psychology Behind Them

 

Choosing the color for your brand may seem deceptively simple, but there are many underlying aspects to consider when deciding on color schemes. The color palette of your brand can significantly affect how your customers engage with and act towards your content, including your packaging, marketing assets, digital assets, printed materials, and more. 

 

To help you think through your color choices and understand  how they influence customer behavior, Jessica Korthuis, co-founder & CEO of Her Brand & Co, covered the prominent nine color families and the psychology behind them during our May 3rd webinar “Color Psychology: Guiding Your Audience Using Color.”Read on to learn more about them and how they can affect your audience.

 

Red

Red triggers powerful positive emotions, such as energy, passion, and power. However, red is also associated with negative emotions such as anger, pain, and aggression. The color red can create a sense of urgency, making sales very effective. In addition, red encourages appetite, which is why it is frequently used in the fast-food sector. The personality traits of red are bold, adventurous, and energetic — however,  9% of people interpret red as “cheap.”


Orange

Orange generates a feeling of warmth given its association with the sun, which is considered bright, light, and fun. Darker shades of orange are associated with autumn, which lends itself nicely to “earthy” brands. The personality traits of orange are adventurous, competitive, and disaffected,  and some potential negative characteristics of orange are deprivation, frustration, ignorance, and sluggishness. Orange is the color that most people consider “cheap,” with 26% agreeing. Luxury brands tend to avoid orange, with one exception: Hermes.


Yellow
Yellow is a bold color that can be powerful when used as a highlight alongside a darker color. Yellow has a strong connotation of youthfulness, happiness, fun, and sunshine. The negative emotions attached to yellow are irrationality, caution, and frustration. When considering yellow, keep in mind that printing yellow can be difficult, and frequently the shades change when transitioning from digital to print. In addition, yellow is the second cheapest color, with 22% of people agreeing. 

Green
Green is a calming color that is easy on the eye and often synonymous with health, hope, freshness and nature. Humans have a primitive relationship with green as it represents life, nature, and growth. This is why it’s frequently used amongst “healthy” brands, from pharmaceuticals to organic foods. The negative traits attributed to green include boredom, stagnation, and envy.   


Blue

Blue is seen as calming and is the color of reason, trust, logic, and loyalty, which is why it is widely used across all company types. Blue is a safe option for color; however, it’s important to consider if you will stand out amongst your competitors. In addition, blue is seen as unappetizing as there are no naturally occurring blue foods, so it may not be a good choice for a food-oriented brand. Blue is also considered one of the least “cheap” colors, with just 1% of those polled believing it to be cheap. The color blue is also associated with coldness and emotionlessness, but men heavily favor it. If your brand’s ideal consumer is male, it could be beneficial to include darker tones of blue in your branding. 

Purple

Historically, purple is associated with royalty and can be used by brands that want to position their offer as prestigious. Excess and extravagance are also associated with purple, so it is best not to overindulge in your use of purple in branding. The personality of purple is sensitive, dignified and understanding. Tints of purple can be used for femininity, while darker shades can express moodiness.  

Magenta

Magenta, or pink, is the most widely used color to portray femininity. It is associated with passion, care, and creativity, but on the other side, impulsiveness and rebelliousness. Magenta can be an impactful accompanying color to inspire comfort and give youth to a more formal brand. The personality traits linked to pink are spiritual, innovative, and practical. Pink has been used successfully across a wide range of industries, from food to healthcare to tech.


Black

Black is a bold color that is synonymous with luxury and power, radiating sophistication, security, and elegance. It can also be seen as oppressive, cold, and menacing or its association with mourning. High street brands are renowned for their simplistic black and white palettes, but the sparing addition of a bright color with black can add energy to sophistication. Black is personified as decisive, confident, and severe, but it is not well suited for specific industries, such as healthcare, due to its connotations with death. 



White/Silver

White has long represented innocence, purity, and cleanliness and can be used for a modern look and feel that capitalizes on simplicity. Using white as a dominant brand color requires restraint in design, and if poorly executed, a white brand can look lazy, sterile, and lacking in personality. The traits attached to white and silver are optimistic, independent, and innocent; however, it can quickly look cheap, with 9% of people agreeing.



Color changes everything about your brand and the user experience. Some questions to ask yourself are: “Do my colors intentionally tell the story of my brand?” and “What are my colors communicating to the world at large?” With the guideline we discussed, there are exceptions, and one must be mindful of cultural differences. If you understand your audience and the personality you want to adopt for your brand,  picking a color for your marketing will be a breeze.

This blog is inspired by WiT Webinar ‘Color Theory: Guiding Your Audience Through Color.’ Watch it on WiT’s Webinar archive HERE.