The psychology of colors is the study of hues as a determinant of human behavior. In this post I want to explore how to use the psychology of colors for branding and marketing.
As a matter of facts color influences perceptions and memories. There are colors associated to any kind of field (for example you will not use a mud color to create a food brand, simply because mud-dirt and food are not concepts that normally people would associate). Colors are associated to perception, but also to persuasion.
Marketers, during the years, studied colors to influence customers to buy and perceive positively goods and services. If you consider a color, you can easily find brands connected to that brand. Let’s try this test for example.
Think about the color red and consider what comes in your mind.
In my case, when I think about the color RED I can immediately visualize a shiny deep red that I connect immediately to FERRARI (I am quite sure, the cultural background has a strong impact on how we remember a brand and associate colors-brands). After Ferrari, I thought about Coca Cola and Puma… but there are way more famous brands associated to the red colors.
So, how can a brand ‘own’ a color?
The first thing to say… this won’t happen overnight! To remember a brand and associate a brand with a color, a shape, you need to be exposed to a certain amount of impressions (a single display of the brand or a product. Marketing take into account the number of impressions).
When you design a brand you definitely have to take into consideration the use of the correct color to make sure your brand will stand out and be remembered.
This color wheel can help you in considering the associations that people make when thinking about a color.
So how can we bring this on your own brand?
- Pick a color that makes sense with your brand, the brand values, services, activities, and products. This resource can give you more insights on every color meaning but pay attention, not all of the people give the same meaning to the same color (different people, different perception). Use this, as a general indication to help you choose the color. Consider that many academic studies on colors and branding will tell you that it’s far more important for colors to support your brand personality and tone of voice, instead of trying to align your brand to stereotypes. In general, you should consider your target audience, men tend to prefer bold colors, women softer colors and kids… shiny colors. Men’s and women’s least favorite color is brown (just so you know).
- Shades. Pick a good shade of that color… for example… recently fluo color are definitely a trend that a lot of new startups are following to distinguish their products and brands from others. Let’s consider, for example, Airbnb, Snapchat & Soundcloud. They did not pick Red, Yellow and Orange, but a specific shade of those colors.
- Color Matches. One very important aspect that professional designer will take immediately into consideration while choosing the correct color will be to verify that the color they are picking can match with a Pantone® color, which is the standard for printing, this to guarantee a consistent brand identity offline and online. Your brand must be strong while converted in Pantone colors, in CMYK, RGB and also in pure black and pure white.
- Strategy. Come up with a strategy on how to display your brand effectively on different supports and layouts. Normally, if you are working with a consultant or an agency they will produce a manual of the brand. In the manual every aspect of your brand will be covered, from the tone of voice the brand is going to communicate to people, from the very last detail on lettering, to spacing and displaying your brand. Take these aspects into consideration if you cannot afford to work with a consultant.
- Balance. You can pick multiple colors but always make sure that every aspect of the identity system of your brand is well balanced. Make good use of contrasts, whitespaces, shapes, and geometries… and remember, us marketers, when talking about brands, we talk about experiences. So make sure you create the best possible brand experience for your customers.
Do you want to know more about the psychology of colors?
Here some studies you can read:
- Brand personality
- Impact of color on marketing