The Psychology of Colour: How does Colour Define Brands?

April 8, 2017
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By Marie Noreazon

Many of us are brand loyalists in our own rights. Our experiences with a brand determine our own psychology of each brand. But, what really makes the brand-consumer relationship tick? In addition to word of mouth, testimonials of those close to us, our own brand experiences, advertising campaigns, mass media, social-media posts and more, the psychology of colour helps us recognize and trust brands.

Colours and Emotions

Colour associations cause us to immediately know the brand. They want to build a certain type of rapport with us, whether it is to get our attention or establish a long-lasting customer-brand relationship. They pay homage to an era or make their own 21st Century branding footprint. Coca-Cola has its own shade of red. And who doesn’t know the Tiffany & Co. blue? Truth be told, all humans love their colours, and this continues from childhood to adulthood.

When a brand is designing a new logo or campaign materials, etc, the people behind the scenes take colour schemes into heavy consideration. What will make target audiences gravitate toward a specific product, cause or message? This process involves more than just playing Russian roulette with a colour wheel. Experts have their methods to ensure a brand is visually appealing.

It’s no secret that colours are tied to our emotions:

  • Red: Passion, action, ambition, love, sexual passion, bold, youth
  • Orange: Communication, optimistic behaviors (also superficiality and negativity)
  • Yellow: Optimism, cheerfulness, warmth, impatience, criticism (Why else do we use yellow highlighters?)
  • Green: Growth, health, balance, self-determination (but also being possessive)
  • Blue: Tranquility, trust, strength, integrity (it’s also a conservative colour and suggests rigidity)
  • Purple: Imaginative, creative, wise (but also immature)
  • Pink: Love, nurture (can also be viewed as girly and immature)
  • White: Purity, perfection, innocence
  • Black: Mysterious and represents the unknown (also showcases hidden aspects of life)
  • Brown: Friendly but serious, protectiveness, comfort (can also be represented as material wealth)
  • Gold: Success, luxury, prestige (also can imply material wealth)
  • Silver and Gray: Emotional, sensitive, a sense of mystery, balance

How Brands Use Colour

 These colours, and more, have other qualities as well. A brand’s overall colour scheme and look can determine how the consumer views the brand’s reputation. For example, if you are feeling passionate, you may purchase something red. This is beneficial to companies, such as Target and Netflix. You could go on a Target shopping spree or spend the day watching Netflix with a significant other. Many social-media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo and LinkedIn, have blue hues. This could mean that we trust these platforms and feel a sense of calm as we click those icons on our phone. (Maybe that explains our compulsive social-media checking?)

Here are some examples of ways brands are using colours to convey their company’s messages:

  • Nintendo: Showcases red to play upon youth; gaming is for younger audiences and the young at heart.
  • Shutterfly: Uses orange to maintain a friendly, conversational business tone.
  • Nikon: Its yellow and black logo shows the mystery of photography (you never know which photos you will take) and that their brand is warm and full of clarity.
  • Android: Uses green to show that technology is always growing, as well as its brand.
  • Lowe’s: This company provides tools for the home and garden, and its blue logo represents strength and durability to its audiences.
  • Barbie: The purple Barbie logo represents the imagination of young children as they play make-believe with the brand’s products.

One last important point,if you’re a brand manager, know your target audiences, and know them well. For example, cultural differences related to colour are vital to know. People in the West wear standard black attire to funerals, while Eastern cultures wear white. Not knowing the difference can cause some serious cultural gaps and branding issues. Having some trouble figuring out colour psychology — or just psychology in general? Talk with someone now to at your convenience — anywhere you are —at websites like


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