The Psychology of Color in Design

Understanding Color (And What It Means For Your Brand)

You see colors in everything around you, every moment of the day—but do you ever stop to think about the impact each of those colors is having on you? Whether it’s the calming effect of blue skies and fields of green, or the saliva-inducing red and yellow of your local fast food chain, each color has a meaning and taps into emotions. There’s a whole science (and art) in the meanings of colors. As an entrepreneur or designer, it’s essential to be aware of these color meanings to help you choose your colors wisely and tap into the magical power of color symbolism.

Color plays a major part in the correct reflection of your brand. This visually obvious yet subtle application has a significant impact on the way a brand is perceived by the public. When looking at color options for your brand it’s always best to take a look at other brands to get a clear idea on how color schemes play a part on the perception of brand perception.

Colors can be a powerful tool—if you know how to use them. For a business, there are all sorts of places where color comes into play. You might immediately think of branding elements like the logo, business cards and stationery. Color choices will also be meaningful across online communication and marketing materials: your website, social media, emails, presentations as well as offline tools like flyers and product packaging.

Today’s society is bombarded with products that are trying to get our attention at every head turn, decreasing the likely hood that your product will immediately stand out. According to the way our natural senses function Color is the most influential, followed by Shapes, Symbols, and finally Words. Here we will look at what colors mean on a basic level, as well as brands that are best known for their recognition by color, color combination practices, and how you can use these methods to develop your own brand.

Where do color meanings come from?

Color meanings stem from psychological effects, biological conditioning and cultural developments. Some color meanings are deeply rooted in our brains because they’re visible all around us, like red as the color of fire being associated with warmth or green with nature. We’re biologically wired to pay attention to bright colors because brightly colored animals or plants are often poisonous. We’re drawn to red fruit over green fruit because the color indicates ripeness and sweetness.

Now let’s explore what all those colors mean…

  • Red — Red stands for passion, excitement and anger. It can signify importance and command attention.
  • Orange — Orange stands for playfulness, vitality and friendliness. It is invigorating and evokes energy.
  • Yellow — Yellow evokes happiness, youth and optimism, but can also seem attention-grabbing or affordable.
  • Green — Green evokes stability, prosperity, growth and a connection to nature.
  • Light Blue — A light shade of blue exudes tranquility, trust, openness. It can also signify innocence.
  • Dark Blue — Dark blue stands for professionalism, security and formality. It is mature and trustworthy.
  • Purple — Purple can signify royalty, creativity and luxury.
  • Pink — Pink stands for femininity, youth and innocence. It ranges from modern to luxurious.
  • Brown — Brown creates a rugged, earthy, old-fashioned look or mood.
  • White — White evokes cleanliness, virtue, health or simplicity. It can range from affordable to high-end.
  • Gray — Gray stands for neutrality. It can look subdued, classic, serious, mysterious or mature.
  • Black — Black evokes a powerful, sophisticated, edgy, luxurious and modern feeling.

Keep in mind that the effect of your branding colors depends on the style and design they are used in, as well as the color combinations you choose.

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