Color Psychology Basics for Business Image

Color Psychology Basics for Business

Let’s talk about color and why it matters to you, the business owner.

The use of color in your brand’s appearance (i.e. your logo and in all of your marketing and promotional collateral) has a tremendous impact on how people think and feel about your company.

Your brand’s appearance will make first and ongoing impressions, sometimes good and sometimes bad. While there are many factors that impact those impressions, such as how you deliver value to your customers, your brand color scheme influences how your audience thinks and feels about your brand long-term.

Color evokes real emotions and perceptions in your audience. Often those emotions and perceptions are developed in the subconscious. In some instances, those emotions and perceptions can work powerfully in your favor or powerfully against you. A “Brand Advocate” or “Brand Ambassador” loves you and encourages others to bring their business to you, a person who has nothing good to say about you will discourage others from bringing their business to you.

Let’s put this into perspective. What do you think about when you hear someone mention McDonald’s, Coca-Cola or Starbucks? The color schemes these big brands have used to represent them has contributed to the perception that has been shaped in your mind about each of them. Consider McDonald’s, known for the “golden” (yellow) arches. Consider, Coca-Cola’s use of red, which elicits feelings of passion, boldness, excitement and youth. Lastly, consider that the use of green in Starbucks’ branding is no accident – green is healthy, organic, restorative and energizing. If you make a Starbucks purchase, you might notice the color brown frequently appears as an accent on its product labels, paper bags, etc., and supports the color green’s agenda.

As it applies to your brand development, your brand color scheme is an important consideration to think through strategically.

A good color scheme effectively conveys something about your business. In particular, consider the feelings and perceptions you want your customers to associate with you when they think about your company, or when they use your products or services. A good start is to consider your organization’s values, or what kind of solution or need you are fulfilling for your customers.

Let’s go back to the Starbucks example. Starbucks provides a product that fulfills a need or want that you have; they serve hot and cold beverages and a variety of food items. Starbucks wants you to feel like you are choosing a healthy option whenever you walk into the store. More than a hot beverage or healthy treat, Starbucks sells an experience, and a certain lifestyle. The colors green and brown support their motif.

The last thing you want to consider is that color is also highly subjective and will not evoke the same feelings or thoughts in every member of your audience. Also, the meaning of individual colors is different in other cultures and places. Be conscious of this reality but still go through the process of learning what meanings are most commonly associated with specific colors and you can make an educated decision about what will best represent your company and your value propositions.

The infographic below by the Logo Company serves as a helpful visual guide to the common uses of color in branding and the emotions these colors tend to evoke in your audience.

Color Emotion Guide by the Logo Company

Image Source: The Logo Company

Further Reading on the Psychology of Color in Business

Presented here for your convenience. All credit goes to author of each respective article.

“The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding,” By Gregory Ciotti, Entrepreneur Magazine
“Psychology of Color in Logo Design,” The Logo Company