Show Your True Colors: Color psychology and how to pick the right tones

Have you ever stopped to consider how important color is to a brand? In branding, color is carefully selected to express the personality of the brand and used to stimulate or persuade the consumer under given circumstances.

If treated right, it can become the banner that carries a brand’s legacy through time. Imagine in your mind an image of a Tiffany gift box. You don’t even need to see the logo, you already know it’s Tiffany’s because of that famous blue box.

Did you know that some of the biggest brands even administer color studies to see how test groups respond to various hues? Colors are something we don’t often think about but they do influence on us. Without knowing we tend to naturally be drawn to something or not. So, it’s important to be intentional when selecting brand colors.

What emotions do you want to incite in people when they see your brand? Would you like them to feel excited or calm? How about confident or curious? Perhaps hungry? Or sexy? Believe it or not, all of that has a lot to do with color, in fact, branding guru, Alina Wheeler, mentions in her successful book “Designing Brand Identity” that over sixty percent of the decision to choose a product over another is attributed to color.

Just think about the predominant tones in your wardrobe. “Yeah, ‘cause I look good in green”, some might think, but there’s actually a lot more than meets the eye, and that’s what we know as: 

The psychology of color

Psychology of color is the study of colors in relation to the different nuances of human behavior, how it affects the way we make decisions and how we connect with brands and products.

Just like we pick our wardrobe choices. Let’s say you’re a lively person with a healthy and peaceful lifestyle, you might not have a predominantly black closet but one that’s more on the lighter side, with greens and oranges because they represent your personality better. There are too many meanings and interpretations to color, and they all depend on a variety of factors like a current mood, or one’s upbringing and values, cultural connotations, and even gender (yep, that “pink and blue” differentiation is still a thing...).

But there is some common ground for most researchers on the matter, as far as what each color evokes. Take this guide into consideration:

Your story will materialize in the eyes of your audience, how it will work its way through their brains and establish a place there for future reference. Remember your favorite brands and see how their colors immediately spread through your mind, and they also make you feel some type of way, right?

We’ve talked before about brand guidelines and their importance in the building process of a consistent brand, color, or more precisely a color palette, is one of the elements that comprise the guidelines just like a brand’s scent or sound identity (i.e. the Netflix opening sound), but we’ll dive into those later on. The selection of the colors that would accompany a logo and the brand’s visual universe is not made at random, it must be directly linked to the definition of the personality and core values of the brand.

This is part of how you want your brand to be perceived and differentiated, as well as remembered, of course. So it’s also fundamental to ensure an optimum reproduction of the brand color on all media and points of interaction with the consumer. Unifying its application across packaging, printing, signs, brand architecture, differentiating products or business lines.

Color can be a complex matter -that’s why it has a psychology of its own- but it’s undeniably a fascinating one. It’s everywhere, it’s endless, and as designers we love exploring all of its possibilities, because color allows us not only to enter people’s homes, but their hearts and imaginations. In the end, it’s all about human
emotion, and that is as vast and beautiful as the whole color spectrum.




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