Brand colours play an important role in brand image and can help define your brand.
Brand colours have a powerful effect on our emotions, and in turn, these emotions affect consumer behaviour. Whether you’re a high-end fashion company trying to connect to a younger audience or a local organic food store trying to establish trust, having a better understanding of colour meanings can help provide a framework for understanding how and why we interact with the brands in our lives.
In this blog, we’ll run through the rainbow and inform you of the colour meanings for the most popular colours used. Let’s get started!
Red – Passion, Energy, Attention
You might notice that many websites use red for buttons or for attention grabbing banners to stand out from the background. Red is generally seen as one of the more intense colours on the colour wheel and so can be seen to evoke more intense emotions. This can range from a passionate energy to a sense of danger, so it should be used carefully.
Brands like Coca-Cola and Target utilise red to channel an energetic feeling, which when coupled with phrases like ‘Open Happiness’ or ‘Expect More. Pay Less’ directs us to more positive feelings of expecting happiness or good value. When accompanied with white or black, the reds of the logo pop even more and offer a timeless look that can last decades.
Pink – Affection, Femininity, Playfulness
Pink is a often popular colour choice for brands that serve a female audience. In colour psychology, pink’s colour meaning usually revolves around femininity, playfulness and affection.
Brands like Barbie use pink very heavily to lean into their feminine audience. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking pink is ‘just for girls’. Brands like Baskin Robbins and Dunkin Donuts use pink as one of their colours to underpin their cheerful branding and evoke a sense of playfulness and fun.
Using brighter shades of pink can also evoke a sense of youth and summer, as Glenlivet showed in their latest Caribbean Reserve launch. This summery rebranding modernised a traditional brand to a younger audience without losing the core of what Glenlivet stands for – tradition and innovation!
Orange – Creative, Confident, Enthusiastic
Orange adds a bit of fun and creativity to whatever material it’s on. It presents similar messaging as the colour red, but with less command and intensity.
Brands like Fanta and Reese’s showcase orange in their branding to represent the creativity and enthusiasm that its consumers seek through the playfulness of their branding.
Yellow – Optimistic, Happy, Friendly
A warm, cheerfulness is often associated with yellow, which likely comes from its connection to a warm summer day. McDonald’s famous golden arches and Chupa Chups lollipops utilise yellow to symbolise a feeling of childlike happiness and joy that is attained when consuming their products.
Yellow can also evoke feelings of safety. We are familiar with yellow warning signs that help us to avoid a problem and keep us away from harm. Brands like Stanley lean on this understanding to present a sense of ‘staying safe’ when using their products.
It should be noted that it’s challenging to have an all-yellow identity. More often than not, it’s too bright to stand alone and often needs a secondary background or bordering colour to help bring clarity.
Green – Natural, Healthy, Growth
Green is highly connected to positive meanings like nature, growth and health. However it also can carry some other associations like envy and money, depending on how and where it is used.
Starbucks’ famous green logo offers a fresh and heritage oriented representation of the brand which represents the way the brand aims to treat its customers and partners. On the other hand, brands like Tropicana use green in their logo as a representation of the brand’s philosophy to use natural and fresh ingredients – a friendly colour palette to evoke trust and a sense of ‘being in touch with nature’.
Blue – Trustworthy, Honest, Loyal
Blue’s colour meaning ties closely to the sea and the sky. Stability, peace, calm and trust are just some of the feelings your customer may feel about your brand when you integrate the colour blue into your branding. Conversely, some shades of blue can also carry some negative colour meanings such as coldness or sadness.
Tech brands like Facebook, Twitter and Skype often use blue in their marketing. But brands like Cinnabon and Nestle also use the colour to represent sophistication, quality, and sincerity.
Purple – Regal, Luxurious, Wise
In colour psychology, purple is a royal colour, which is connected to power, nobility, luxury and wisdom.
Brands like Cadbury and Welch’s use purple for this reason. When browsing both websites, you’ll notice that purple is a prominent colour. This lends to a feeling of quality and luxury. Just think of a box of Quality Street – it’s a purple box full of quality goodies for everyone!
Black – Sophisticated, Elegant, Stylish
Black’s colour meaning is symbolic of mystery, power, elegance, and sophistication, which makes it no surprise that it’s such a common colour of choice in fashion brands. In contrast, the colour meaning can also evoke emotions such as sadness and anger. Black is also a popular colour for text, bordering and shadowing as it’s an easy colour to read and can support other colours to make them stand out more.
White – Innocent, Clean, Balanced
White showcases innocence, goodness, cleanliness, and balance.
It’s more common to see the colour white used for brands in the tech or fashion industry. For example, on Adidas’ online store, the top navigation is black and the use of a white logo helps create contrast. Apple uses white to create a sense of cleanliness, space and minimalism. Their products are a whole experience from unboxing to use and the use of white helps propel whatever colour does appear in or near their products.
Cultural Differences – consider your audience!
It’s worth keeping in mind that the meaning of colours can differ across cultures. For example, in some Eastern cultures, white can be viewed as the colour of mourning and grief or even misfortune and unhappiness. Red can indicate a warning to some cultures and communities and signal prosperity and good luck in others. You’ll want to keep this in mind based on the target audience you serve.
Now that you’ve got a foundational understanding of colour psychology, you can apply them to your brand. This doesn’t just apply to your logo! Whether it’s your social media templates, website design or business cards, the use of your brand colours should represent what you want your brand to be about and what you want your consumers to feel when interacting with your brand.
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