Corporate Branding and Colour Psychology

Jan 13, 2020


Whether you’re a one-person operation or a nationwide corporation, you may have found yourself wondering which colours are best suited for your brand. Choosing the right color for your brand is essential, as the psychology of color plays a huge role in a customer’s decision to buy a product or engage with a company. In fact, in the first 90 seconds of initial viewing, an unconscious assessment has already been made by the consumer. 

Many companies know the importance of having an attractive color scheme which communicates something about their brand identity. And yet, many are unaware of the psychology and theory behind color and only use their gut to make important design decisions. If you want to take your brand to the next level and attract your ideal customer, knowing what message you are sending with your color choice is crucial.

For example, have you ever noticed that many fast food chains use red in their logos? It’s no accident that nationwide chains like McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC and Dairy Queen all incorporate red into their brand identities. They do this because research indicates the colour red stimulates the appetite. By branding themselves with the colour red, they signal to the viewer that they can satisfy their cravings.

COLOUR PSYCHOLOGY 

To know which colours you should use for your company, first you need to know the feelings colours typically evoke in audiences. Though there are multiple shades of colours and endless variations, the list below describes the main colours companies use to brand themselves and gives some insight into why companies use these colours:

YELLOW

Yellow is an attention-grabbing colour that signals optimism, extraversion, friendliness, happiness and cheerfulness. It can also signal feelings of caution and cowardice, along with causing a potential strain on the eyes. Despite its potential downsides, it’s a go-to colour for many companies, with National Geographic, IKEA, and Sprint all employing it in their logos.

BLUE

Blue represents intelligence, communication, trust, efficiency, duty and logic. It is a calming and dependable colour that is very popular among companies. Many restaurants avoid using the colour blue, however, due to the belief that it may suppress appetites. Due to its trustworthiness, financial institutions like JP Morgan, Chase and Bank of America all use blue as their primary colour.

GREEN

Green evokes feelings of nature and security. It helps convey an idea of growth, newness, calm and stability. Darker greens can also relate to wealth, but this is primarily found in the United States where money is green, rather than in other countries whose currency is a different colour. Companies like John Deere and Land Rover use green to show their connection with nature.

PURPLE

Purple is commonly associated with royalty, wealth, success and wisdom. Due to its rarity in nature, it often gets linked to things that are otherworldly or imaginative. For example, the Syfy channel’s logo is purple, speaking to their science fiction and fantasy content.

The color purple is commonly associated with royalty and wealth.

RED

Red elicits feelings of arousal, excitement and stimulation. It has romantic connotations like passion and love, while also relating to power and war. The colour is highly visible and is good at grabbing a customer’s attention. However, it can also signal danger and aggression. Since it is an attention-grabbing and evocative colour, a wide variety of companies like Heinz, CNN and Exxon use it.

ORANGE

Orange relates closely to red, as it also provokes feelings of arousal and excitement, just on a less intense level. It’s a multi-use colour, as it can also bring out feelings of joy and playfulness. You can find this highly emotive colour on the logos of companies like Fanta, Discover and Amazon.

PINK

Pink often draws out feelings of innocence, softness, sophistication and delicateness. In contemporary times, it has mostly been tied to feminity, but this is changing as pink becomes more popular in men’s fashion. The colour can make a bold statement, while it can also be more light-hearted and gentle. Companies like Baskin Robbins, Vineyard Vines and Lyft all include the colour in their logo for different effects.

BROWN

Brown can bring out feelings of seriousness, reliability, support and neutrality. It can also be used to relate to nature and earthiness. It is not very emotionally charged or excited, but it does give a sense of utility that many people look for in a company. As such, UPS, Cracker Barrel and Hershey’s all use the colour to remind customers of their reliable service or product.

BLACK

Black symbolizes power, sophistication, dignity, glamor and authority. The sleek, modern appeal of black makes it popular and can elicit strong feelings from viewers. Despite its appeal, companies have to be aware that the colour can also symbolize evil and grief. Fashion companies like Gucci, Chanel and Nike all use black in their logo to complement their trendsetting products.

The color black has a sleek, modern appeal.

WHITE

White is often associated with purity, cleanness, simplicity, hygiene and peace. These positive connations make white a very attractive choice for companies, and the colour is often used as a background. Companies like Apple, Crocs, Cotton and Tesla have all paired white with a variety of colours to great effect.

THE BOTTOM LINE

There is a lot of meaning behind brand colours that you might not have been aware of until now. The above list is not exhaustive, but it should give you some idea about what impression you might be making about your brand identity with the colours you choose to incorporate into your brand. The variety of corporate logo colour schemes should show you that you have a lot of room to experiment with your colours.

Of course, the above colours will not always produce the same feelings in your audience. A person’s experiences, upbringing and cultural background all change their perception of certain colours. That said, you should still take the general public perception of colour into consideration when branding your company and look into how colour perception might change based on where you are marketing.

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