The Psychology of Color in Branding: Analyzing the role of color psychology in brand perception and discussing innovative approaches to leveraging color in branding strategies.
Hello creators! A large part of our position as brand creators (and a satisfying one!) is to find THE color to fit a logo, a website, or a brand altogether. Color is a language in itself, and by now, there is no doubt that it has a significant importance in the choice a customer will make. So, whether you are someone who chooses color instinctively or someone who does deep research and analysis before picking one, we needed to come in and share our own thoughts on the subject!
Color theory is a hot topic! We always find multipule articles talking about all of these very specific emotions associated with colors, but the truth is that everyone getting the same feeling from the same colours is a total myth (not saying that it doesn’t give you an emotion, it’s different depending who you are)! How we perceive colors isn't universal; it cannot be, because we all have different backgrounds. Whether it is cultural, religious, or just personal, how we perceive and react to different colors will vary. For example, in North America, we associate red with passion, love, or anger, but in China, red is the color of luck. A very different interpretation. Yet, colors do have an impact on us, and yes, it is an emotional one, but basing your choice of color on a universal emotional response shouldn't be a thing.
"Color! What a deep and mysterious language, the language of dreams." — Paul Gauguin
It's all about color context.
Since color is part of the brand personality, the vibe of a brand identity and what a brand needs to communicate should be taken into consideration when choosing a hue to represent it. The color picked for the brand must effectively translate the mission, values, and vision at first sight. In doing so, it is more important to select that color based on research into the target audience instead of relying on a potential universal response to a color. Where people are, their age, trending colors, etc. will give a better understanding of what they associate each color with. It’s about understanding how the brand’s prospective customers view and emotionally connect with colors; it’s about predicting through analysis and research how they will react to the color of the brand.
Additionally, it's important to mention that the overall perception of the brand is also influenced by the imagery and logo; these elements will also impact how the color is perceived. It’s a good idea to conduct market research to find what colors your competitors have chosen. What stands out is what we notice first, which means a brand have a better chance of being noticed and chosen if the color selected not only effectively represents it, but also distinguishes it from the rest of it’s industry. So, if the brand wants to maintain the upper hand, a color that can tell its message but stays outside of the convention is the best choice. Also, the color should be consistent across the board. From the logo to the website to the packaging, the primary color should be present, and the color palette should be consistent. This will ensure that not only it stand out, but that the customers will remember and recognize the brand.
Brands that have done their job well, if I only mention their name, you should have their color pop right away into your brain. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Target, Cadbury, and Apple are all great examples!
Despite our backgrounds significantly affecting our emotional responses to colors, there is some truth to the belief that colors can provoke a universal response. This has to do with physical responses, though.
The way we process the wavelengths of colors can have a psychological impact. For example, colors with short wavelengths, like blue, have comforting effects. Blue stands as the world's most beloved color, a preference backed by scientific findings revealing its ability to reduce blood pressure and slow our pulse. The color green, on the other hand, is famously associated with night vision. It is the chosen color for it since it’s the color from which we perceive the most shades! In contrast, yellow is the most challenging color for us to process visually, making it a good choice for warning signs on the road; you'll definitely spot it. Finally, red has the longest wavelength of the group, which makes it appear closer than it actually is. It also apparently reduces our analytical thinking while intensifying our reactions. Whether you knew the science behind it or not, isn't it something we've all instinctively noticed?
Once the research have been completed, it's time to select the main color or palette. Now that we understand that specific colors can have a psychological impact on us, let's delve deeper and move away from the primary ones. Primary colors are still valid choices, but if you want a brand to distinguish itself from the competitors, a more unique color can elevate a brand, differentiate it and form a strong association with the special shade you will create.
When discussing colors, there's much to understand and take into account:
Hue: A hue is a color that is pure in the sense that no white, black or grey has been added to it. Take your old chromatic wheel from this obscure art class and take a look at it. Yep, everything on it is a hue. In your design, using pure hue bring and energetic and playful feeling but don’t stop at the one you see on the wheel. There is many more hue hidden between any two that are next to each other.
Chroma: Chroma determines how pure a color is and consists of shade, tint, or tone. A shade is a hue mixed with black, a tint is a hue mixed with white, and a tone is a hue mixed with gray. Adding a bit of a neutral color to a hue will make it more unique.
Saturation: You're probably familiar with this one, but just as a reminder, saturation refers to the intensity of a color.
Understanding these concepts is crucial in your quest to create the perfect color because they give ways to experiment and explore. When you experiment within these parameters, colors can have different emotional impacts. Pure hues tend to be more energetic and playful, while tints offer a softer, dreamy appearance. Tones can feel like a vintage old film or give a sense of depth, and shades are often used by luxurious brand.
We understand that a brand need a dominant color, but what about the color palette? You're not going to design an entire website based on a single color for sure. Well, once you mastered the various nuances of colors, you can play with them. An innovative color palette should be harmonious, reflecting the brand’s core but also capturing attention and breaking away from traditional blends. Yes, you can experiment with complementary colors, but consider altering the chroma. Maintaining the same chroma throughout an entire palette can bring a subtle balance. Saturation can be adjusted the same way. A commonly used color palette have various colors with different chroma and one pure hue to create contrast. A monochromatic palette is also to consider; same hue as a base but a variation of it through different tint, shades and tones. Just bear in mind that the more colors you add to the palette, the more challenging it becomes. In case you feel overwhelmed, you can always incorporate neutral colors like white, brown, gray, or black!
Here's a simple trick to kickstart a color palette: base it on a photograph. You can either create a palette yourself with the pipette tool or use software that can generate a color palette with the number of colors you want, directly from a picture!
"There's a reason we don't see the world in black and white." — Celerie Kemble
In any case, using colors in an innovative way is all about how we play with shades, tints, tones, and saturation. It's about selecting a color that represents the brand and can reveal its mission and vision while remaining relevant to the target audience. It should resonate with the moment and the associations customers will make with it. You get bonus point if it surprises them! We understand that you might choose green for a brand focuses on ecology, but what about a soft sand or a light greyish turquoise? It's time to get messy and play around!