How much thought do you put every day into the colors you choose to wear? Probably not too much - but, every day, communication professionals in marketing and advertising make carefully-considered color scheme decisions with hours, days, and even weeks of thought put into them. Why?
Well, when it comes to brand strategy, marketers know that colors can be strategically used to influence the decision-making (read: buying) process of users and customers. This is because each color communicates its own specific emotions and feelings, with both positive and negative impacts to be found in how they make a consumer feel.
Want your brand personality to be associated with good, fresh, healthy things? You’ll probably use green in your marketing. Want to prevent your customers from associating you with intense, scary feelings? You’ll probably want to avoid making heavy use of black.
It’s pretty interesting, right? In fact, you might already be broadcasting certain color emotions with your brand without even realizing it. So to help clear up exactly which emotions audiences are most likely to associate with various colors, we’ve put together a guide of the top-used colors and what emotions they typically convey. Check it out below.
Red is a pretty common color in marketing and advertising, with giant companies like Netflix, Target, CVS, Coca-Cola, and Kellogg’s all using red in their logos. This is because red is a striking color that immediately captures visual attention. It also has some pretty strong associations connected to it.
What this means is that if you are trying to create a gentle, soft brand that feels safe and welcoming, red might not be the right color for you. But on the other hand, if you want your brand to scream power and energy, red could be a great choice.
While orange isn’t nearly as common a color in marketing as red is, you’ll still see it used by some pretty huge brands, including Nickelodeon, Home Depot, JBL, and SoundCloud.
So why might companies choose to go against the grain and create an orange logo? Well, orange carries such positive associations as:
This might explain why orange is more common a pick around brands related to youth and the arts. Other companies though, tend to stay away from orange because they want to avoid being associated with its more negative emotions.
Now yellow is another color that is pretty commonly used in marketing, with its bright, cheery associations being pretty sought after in the field. Companies like Best Buy, Nikon, Snapchat, Post-It, and Sprint all benefit from being associated with yellow’s positive traits like:
Why would you potentially want to stay away from such a happy color? Well, it might be a good idea not to use yellow for your brand if you’re concerned about being perceived as having a relation to some of its negative traits, like fear, anxiety, frustration, etc.
What do you think of when you imagine the color green? Probably the main two things that come to mind are nature and money, which is exactly why green tends to be the purview of companies like Whole Foods, Fidelity, Quickbooks, and Animal Planet. Heck, even oil company BP uses green in order to benefit from associations with things like health, freshness, nature and growth. That being said, green also can carry some negative messages, the same way the other colors do.
And, with blue, we’ve come back to one of the most popular colors in all of marketing. Why? Well, blue is professional. Blue is calm. Blue makes you feel like you’re in good hands. That’s why it’s the choice of so many different brands, including Ford, Visa, Intel, American Express, HP, Dell, PayPal, Nokia, and Hyundai.
If you want somebody to associate you with the following positive feelings, you’ll benefit from choosing blue for your branding:
Many good things to be associated with, right? In fact, why doesn’t every company have blue in their marketing? Well, blue does have its downfalls, especially if you want your brand to be viewed as warm, friendly, and understanding. In short, if you’re willing to sacrifice relatability in order to appear authoritative and trustworthy, blue could very well be for you.
From an extremely popular color to a much less common one, have you ever noticed that there aren’t so many purple logos out there? Some of the few companies that do choose to use purple include Yahoo, Wonka, Hallmark, Cadbury, and Taco Bell.
So why is purple so uncommon? After all, we tie it to such positive emotions and feelings but, as beautiful and royal as it may be, purple also tends to come with quite a few less-desirable associations.
For better or worse, we’re all raised from a very young age to have some pretty specific associations with magenta and pink. Say it with us: girly. That’s why brands who choose to use magenta in their marketing, like Lyft, Cosmopolitan, Johnson & Johnson, and Victoria's Secret, aren’t afraid of their feminine associations. As you can see, there are some very interesting associations with the color magenta:
So next time you’re deep into a brainstorming session of visual thinking, choosing what colors to use in your brand’s logo and other marketing materials, we hope that this quick guide can be useful in helping you understand what kind of messages you’re sending and emotions you’re activating based on your color choices. Good luck!