What if McDonald’s had chosen to put a gray M on a brown background instead of going with “golden arches” on red? How about if the Denver Broncos picked pink and yellow rather than orange and blue? (We work with companies nationwide, but we’re based in Colorado Springs. If you don’t share it, please forgive our Bronco Pride!)
Those alternative color schemes can almost turn your stomach, can’t they? The experts will tell you that’s because our brains have a powerful capacity for making connections between colors and things or concepts. It’s a skill that surely has served us well for millennia. Knowing it’s OK to eat the tasty red berries but not the poisonous purple ones no doubt was helpful—lifesaving, really!
The Right Hue for You
While the understanding of how color influences buyer behavior isn’t entirely a science (it’s a bit of an art as well), you are wise to have a good understanding of the current thinking on the psychology of color. The hue for your new logo or the color palette for your website can make a big difference in how your company is perceived, both consciously and subconsciously. You don’t want to base your branding decision on what a handful of managers and executives in a conference room prefer.
What We Know About the Rainbow
In both our own perceptions and laboratory test results, there are common themes in the concepts and emotions that specific colors bring to mind. Here are some of the most widely agreed upon interpretations:
- Yellow — Probably because of its association with the sun, yellow brings to mind energy, warmth, attentiveness, and joy. Yellow is a core color in our own branding, and we use a fair amount of it on our website because we feel it’s a great reflection of our agency personality.
- Blue — Trust, confidence, reliability… these are some of the feelings associated with blue. It also tends to be soothing and calming. If your company seeks to portray an image of authority, this may be your color.
- Red — People associate strength and power with red. It reflects intensity, passion, and excitement. Not surprisingly, it is a very common color in branding.
- Green — Green’s connection to nature brings to mind growth, health, cooperation, and peace. People tend to find it calming and refreshing.
- Purple — Thoughts of royalty, wealth, and wisdom are often connected to purple. It is regal and self-assured. And it’s very eye-catching on the Colorado Rockies’ uniforms. Just sayin’.
- Orange — Orange is associated with creativity, heat, and success. It is a vibrant color that reflects excitement and action. Oh, and that success thing is surely true of the Denver Broncos. Again, just sayin'!
- Black — If the psychological associations for black could be summed up in one word, it is probably “elegance.” Black tie affairs… the little black dress… shiny black luxury sedans… they all come to mind. It also makes just about any other color "pop."
- White — White makes people think of light, innocence, and clarity.
Color and Culture
I should point out that the interpretations above are from an American perspective. Although many of them may be the same in other cultures, certainly some of them are not. For example, there are countries where white, not black, represents death. If you market your products or services internationally, be sure to do your homework.
Your Palette and Our Perspective
We’ve been helping companies choose the perfect color palette for their brand for more than 20 years. Got questions about what your branding says about your company? Wondering if your hues are helping or hindering you? We’re happy to provide some perspective!