Using Psychology to Choose Brand Colors

Successful companies pay attention to the psychology of new business logo colors to evoke responses and create expectations for services and products.

According to the Journal of Experimental Psychology, scientists have studied the impact of color on human emotions for over 100 years. Based on both scientific and commercial studies, a brand marketing agency may not just suggest certain hues but even various degrees of brightness and tone for new business logo colors. Just as important as the colors may be the way they get used in advertising, packaging, and even products. To help choose brand colors for a new business or product, learn some basics about the way various shades can evoke reactions.

Why a brand marketing agency cares about the psychology of color

Beyond scholarly studies, look at how some brands have grown so associated with their colors that people can name the brand just by looking at the distinct shade that the company uses. Some examples include: 

  • Tiffany’s: This jewelry company uses robin’s egg blue. People who are familiar with this famous company can spot a Tiffany’s shopping bag or jewelry box just from the color.
  • Post-It: The company famous for Post-It Notes distinguished itself with canary yellow. They even had a dispute with Microsoft because the software company used the same shade for the Notes software people can use to add “sticky” notes to their computer and mobile devices.
  • Christian Louboutin: In this case, the fashion designer even carried their company’s color over to the soles of their shoes. To keep their shoes recognizable, the company has won trademark cases that prevent other designers from copying them.

The reason these companies went to so much trouble to use and protect their distinctive uses of brand colors stems from consumer behavior. Colorcom, a color and brand design agency, published some interesting statistics to illustrate why color matters so much. For instance, they found that people have already made unconscious decisions about people, products, or environments within 90 seconds of first seeing them. Even more, they base between 62 to 90 percent of that quick, unconscious judgement from color.

How a brand design agency might suggest brand colors

A brand marketing agency may make suggestions for new business color logos based upon many unique factors, including the product, company, and the typical target market. Even though psychologists have found some common ways that most people react to various shades and hues, sometimes personality factors, gender, and age can also matter.

For instance, a financial company might make different choices when they’re trying to attract Baby Boomers than when they’re targeting younger adults. A fashion business could choose a different pallette when they want to appeal to men, women, or teens.

To understand how age and gender might impact color choices, look at one research study from Colour Assignment:

  • More men and women select blue as their favorite color than any choices. For women, the runner up for a favorite color is purple. At the same time, purple also ranked first as the least-favorite color for men.
  • The most people from all age groups also picked blue as their favorite color. Somewhat surprisingly, people between 50 and 69 tend to prefer green less and purple more. For people 70 and over, blue emerged as an even clearer favorite, but other color choices were mostly replaced with white.

Brands don’t necessarily try to attract customers by only selecting favorite colors. If they did, every company might have a blue logo. Mostly, they hope to evoke a certain response with brand colors.

For some examples:

  • Red: Almost every fast food logo incorporates at least some red, a color associated with stimulating appetite.
  • Green and yellow: In contrast, people may associate green with nature and relaxation, and yellow is usually considered a happy color.
  • Purple: Meanwhile, people might like or dislike purple. Still, they tend to associate deep shades of purple with luxury and royalty. While brighter purple tones might strike consumers as fun and vibrant, luxury brands tend to use dark-purple shades to communicate wealth and exclusiveness.
  • Blue: As with other colors, various shades of blue may convey different messages. Tech and manufacturing companies like Samsung and Ford use deep, rich blue to communicate intelligence and reliability. In contrast, many health and beauty companies use lighter blue to symbolize cleanliness. Perhaps they’re using light blue to reflect the color of water.

While people don’t tend to favor gray or brown first, some organizations use them effectively. For instance, people can pick out UPS delivery trucks by their distinctive brown color, especially in contrast with Amazon’s blue vans. These more neutral colors actually don’t evoke much of an emotional response and perhaps, that’s a way for some brands to communicate that they’re more analytical and cerebral. With gray or brown, it’s not about the box — or delivery truck — but what’s inside the box.

Which brand colors should represent your company?

It’s important to mention that Google selected four primary colors that might almost appear childish to somebody who had not seen them each day for the past several years. Microsoft and Apple incorporate similar color schemes, and just because of that, perhaps they’ve come to represent large tech companies. Businesses in similar industries may imitate each other somewhat, even if they don’t dare copy.

Before selecting brand logo colors, it’s a good idea to think about the ways people recognize their favorite companies and how various color schemes may encourage or discourage customers from buying a product. As Econsultancy pointed out, it’s not all about the specific colors but also the ways they’re reflected consistently in packaging or products.

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