Color Theory – What is your color brand

Huh? Color brand?  What on earth?

Yes that was the first reaction I had years ago when i began reading about color, and how it is tied to emotions and business.  There is a huge social science that studies the impact color has on us, why it has such an impact, and how color can be used to build a brand, and develop the marketing and branding materials that efficiently convey the emotional response desired.

Here is a distilled quick summary of the colors and their meaning:

It is the color of blood, and of fire.  Associated with energy, war, strength, power, determination and passion, love.  It is emotionally intense for a color.  It is used as an accent to stimulate people to make quick decisions.  Perfect for “Buy Now” and “Click Here” buttons on the internet.  In advertising red is used to evoke erotic feelings (crimson lips, long red fingernails, seductive women dressed in red) or it is used to indicate danger (High voltage signs, traffic lights).  Its also tied to energy and often conjures images of a little fast sports car that is painted RED!

 

Orange brings the energy of red with the calm and happy nature of yellow and is associate d with enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, success, encouragement and stimulation.  To the human eye orange is a “hot color”, but it is not as aggressive as red.  It is believed that the color orange increases oxygen supply to the brain, producing an invigorating effect that stimulates mental activity.  As a citrus color, orange is associated with healthy food, and appetite stimulation. Orange is highly visible, catches people’s attention quickly.

 

Yellow is the color of sunshine. It’s associated with joy, happiness, intellect, and energy.

Yellow produces a warming effect, arouses cheerfulness, stimulates mental activity, and generates muscle energy. Yellow is often associated with food. Bright, pure yellow is an attention getter, which is the reason taxicabs are painted this color. When overused, yellow may have a disturbing effect; it is known that babies cry more in yellow rooms. Yellow is seen before other colors when placed against black; this combination is often used to issue a warning. In heraldry, yellow indicates honor and loyalty. Later the meaning of yellow was connected with cowardice.

Use yellow to evoke pleasant, cheerful feelings. You can choose yellow to promote children’s products and items related to leisure. Yellow is very effective for attracting attention, so use it to highlight the most important elements of your design. Men usually perceive yellow as a very lighthearted, ‘childish’ color, so it is not recommended to use yellow when selling prestigious, expensive products to men – nobody will buy a yellow business suit or a yellow Mercedes.

Green is the color of nature. It symbolizes growth, harmony, freshness, and fertility. Green has strong emotional correspondence with safety. Dark green is also commonly associated with money.

Green has great healing power. It is the most restful color for the human eye; it can improve vision. Green suggests stability and endurance. Sometimes green denotes lack of experience; for example, a ‘greenhorn’ is a novice. In heraldry, green indicates growth and hope. Green, as opposed to red, means safety; it is the color of free passage in road traffic.  Use green to indicate safety when advertising drugs and medical products. Green is directly related to nature, so you can use it to promote ‘green’ products.

Blue is the color of the sky and sea. It is often associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven.

Blue is considered beneficial to the mind and body. It slows human metabolism and produces a calming effect. Blue is strongly associated with tranquility and calmness. In heraldry, blue is used to symbolize piety and sincerity.

You can use blue to promote products and services related to cleanliness (water purification filters, cleaning liquids, vodka), air and sky (airlines, airports, air conditioners), water and sea (sea voyages, mineral water). As opposed to emotionally warm colors like red, orange, and yellow; blue is linked to consciousness and intellect. Use blue to suggest precision when promoting high-tech products.

Blue is a masculine color; according to studies, it is highly accepted among males. Dark blue is associated with depth, expertise, and stability; it is a preferred color for corporate America.  Avoid using blue when promoting food and cooking, because blue suppresses appetite.

Purple combines the stability of blue and the energy of red. Purple is associated with royalty. It symbolizes power, nobility, luxury, and ambition. It conveys wealth and extravagance. Purple is associated with wisdom, dignity, independence, creativity, mystery, and magic.

According to surveys, almost 75 percent of pre-adolescent children prefer purple to all other colors. Purple is a very rare color in nature; some people consider it to be artificial.  Light purple is a good choice for a feminine design. You can use bright purple when promoting children’s products.

 

White is associated with light, goodness, innocence, purity, and virginity. It is considered to be the color of perfection.

White means safety, purity, and cleanliness. As opposed to black, white usually has a positive connotation. White can represent a successful beginning. In heraldry, white depicts faith and purity.

In advertising, white is associated with coolness and cleanliness because it’s the color of snow. You can use white to suggest simplicity in high-tech products. White is an appropriate color for charitable organizations; angels are usually imagined wearing white clothes. White is associated with hospitals, doctors, and sterility, so you can use white to suggest safety when promoting medical products. White is often associated with low weight, low-fat food, and dairy products.

Black is associated with power, elegance, formality, death, evil, and mystery.

Black is a mysterious color associated with fear and the unknown (black holes). It usually has a negative connotation (blacklist, black humor, ‘black death’). Black denotes strength and authority; it is considered to be a very formal, elegant, and prestigious color (black tie, black Mercedes). In heraldry, black is the symbol of grief.

Black gives the feeling of perspective and depth, but a black background diminishes readability. A black suit or dress can make you look thinner. When designing for a gallery of art or photography, you can use a black or gray background to make the other colors stand out. Black contrasts well with bright colors. Combined with red or orange – other very powerful colors – black gives a very aggressive color scheme.

Whether you are just beginning to think about the colors you want to use to represent your brand, your company, your products or you have long ago established color choices, this gives room for thought.  Consciously or unconsciously we are sending out messages with the use of those color choices.  Choose wisely, and you will find the response you are searching for.