Color Branding: The Meanings Behind Colors

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Tue, Aug 14 - 8:30 pm EDT | 11 years ago by
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color-wheel-color-branding.jpgAs a follow-up to my post last week, 7 Ways Research Shows Color Affects Your Brand, I thought it would be appropriate to share some of the psychology of colors.  Since it’s been proven that color can affect your brand, it’s important that you take great care in color selection when you’re developing and promoting your brand.

I found a great post by John Williams on that provides a succinct explanation of the meanings behind several basic colors.  Following are the color definitions from Entrepreneur:

Blue: Cool blue is perceived as trustworthy, dependable, fiscally responsible and secure. Strongly associated with the sky and sea, blue is serene and universally well-liked. Blue is an especially popular color with financial institutions, as its message of stability inspires trust.

Red: Red activates your pituitary gland, increasing your heart rate and causing you to breathe more rapidly. This visceral response makes red aggressive, energetic, provocative and attention-grabbing. Count on red to evoke a passionate response, albeit not always a favorable one. For example, red can represent danger or indebtedness.

Green: In general, green connotes health, freshness and serenity. However, green’s meaning varies with its many shades. Deeper greens are associated with wealth or prestige, while light greens are calming.

Yellow: In every society, yellow is associated with the sun. Thus, it communicates optimism, positivism, light and warmth. Certain shades seem to motivate and stimulate creative thought and energy. The eye sees bright yellows before any other color, making them great for point-of-purchase displays.

Purple: Purple is a color favored by creative types. With its blend of passionate red and tranquil blue, it evokes mystery, sophistication, spirituality and royalty. Lavender evokes nostalgia and sentimentality.

Pink: Pink’s message varies by intensity. Hot pinks convey energy, youthfulness, fun and excitement and are recommended for less expensive or trendy products for women or girls. Dusty pinks appear sentimental. Lighter pinks are more romantic.

Orange: Cheerful orange evokes exuberance, fun and vitality. With the drama of red plus the cheer of yellow, orange is viewed as gregarious and often childlike. Research indicates its lighter shades appeal to an upscale market. Peach tones work well with  healthcare, restaurants and beauty salons.  

Brown: This earthy color conveys simplicity, durability and stability. It can also elicit a negative response from consumers who relate to it as dirty. Certain shades of brown, like terracotta, can convey an upscale look. From a functional perspective, brown tends to hide dirt, making it a logical choice for some trucking and industrial companies.

Black: Black is serious, bold, powerful and classic. It creates drama and connotes sophistication. Black works well for expensive products, but can also make a product look heavy.

White: White connotes simplicity, cleanliness and purity. The human eye views white as a brilliant color, so it immediately catches the eye in signage. White is often used with infant and health-related products.

It’s important to remember that colors can have different meanings in different parts of the world.  If your business operates globally, make sure you research the color selections for your brand to ensure your colors accurately communicate your brand image in international markets.

Can you think of any brands that use color to communicate their brand message particularly well?

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  • Darlene

    Yippee, my color is smack dab on!! I absolutely love the color purple. I have a purple collections which includes a collection of 12 purple bears!! I like your post.

  • Susan Gunelius

    Darlene, my daughter’s favorite color is purple, too. In fact, she told me she wanted to be purple for Halloween. Not being certain how to dress her as “purple” I bought a purple princess costume for her. :)


    Great post Susan! I’m glad you wrote this, and I’ve learnt a few great things here. I’ll definitely have to come back to this if/when I launch new brands or get graphic design work done!

  • Susan Gunelius

    I’m glad you’re enjoying my color branding posts. They seem to be popular so far. It’s a topic I’m really into lately, so I’m sure I’ll post about it again soon!

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  • joanne zheng

    Yahoo,my fav. colour is purple and blue and it has a verry good meaning.i am so so happy.Thanks for these information.

  • Suhrud

    Great Article!

    I had been searching for such info for quiet a long…It will more great if you can brief on the meaning behind colors used in corporate logos or company signatures.

  • Susan Gunelius

    Thanks for visiting, Suhrud. I am planning on writing another post about color branding this week. Stay tuned…

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  • lisa

    trying to give my school some colors. We are
    apostolic pentecostal. I am leaning toward white
    purity, dark green growth, orange successful?
    How does that sound?

  • Nadine

    I am so excited that my favorite color and my birthstone color (purple) means great things it says alot about me and others I know born under that birthstone and those who love the color purple. Yeah Me!!!!:^)

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