Annie Stabler Nov 9, 2021 1:28:40 PM 14 min read

Breaking Down the Psychology of Color

Color WheelWhy are Brand Colors so Important?

Color isn't only for aesthetics. In color psychology, your color selection process should not only consider trends, common brand associations, and personal preferences but what those colors mean, too. Our creative team at Uncommon Marketing Works always focuses on color psychology when developing your brand. The human eye perceives colors in a variety of ways, and—depending on our culture and life experiences—we connect colors with those experiences and emotions. When choosing your brand colors, you should always consider how the consumer will feel when they’re on your website or viewing your marketing materials and ads.

How Should I Select My Colors?

Combining colors into a palette is essential for your brand. Every color conveys a message, and how you select your colors affects how you present yourself, and how you stand out against competitors. First, let’s break down colors, their uses, and how they’re perceived.

Cool Color WheelCool Colors

Cool color palettes traditionally consist of blues, greens, or purples. Cooler colors are often perceived as more reserved, fresh, and professional, as well as calming and focused.

Blue

Though blue does not technically exist in nature (we’ll save our blog on light refraction for another day), our eyes are naturally comfortable perceiving it. Because of this, blue blends into the background and has more subtle connotations. It’s perceived as confident, intelligent, reliable, and stable.

One of the more popular colors in branding and design (check out your social media accounts and you’ll see what we mean), different shades of blue can be used in various ways. For example, light blue feels tranquil, friendly, airy, and clean. Dark blue, however, can give a sense of intelligence and expertise. 

Green

Green is frequently used for organizations involved with health, nature, or finance—for obvious reasons. Another cool, natural tone, green conveys a sense of vibrancy, growth, prosperity, wealth, new beginnings, and good luck.

Green is often used in CTAs (or buttons), as it draws the viewer immediately while keeping a sense of friendliness and approachability. Though a calming, soothing color, different shades have different messages. For example, deep green is mostly used in finance and conveys strength and substance. Conversely, bright and pastel greens feel more lively, fresh, and energetic.

Purple

Purple is one of the less frequently used cool tones, which can make it more interesting and exciting to see in a graphic. Often associated with luxury, honor, and creativity, purple is a beautiful, rich tone that can direct the observer to different emotions depending on its tone.

Light purple (or pastel purple) is often used for charities or salons and spas. Deep purple, on the other hand, is frequently used in more luxurious settings, such as high-end products or exclusive services or venues.

Warm Color WheelWarm Colors

The opposite of cool tones, warm shades of red, yellow, and orange show that opposite doesn’t always mean negative. Warm shades feel energetic, happy, and enthusiastic to a viewer, and can be used in a variety of industries.

Yellow

Think: sunshine. Yellow is one of the happiest, most energetic colors. It’s bright, cheerful, and attention-grabbing. Depending on the colors it’s combined with, yellow can be reminiscent of a warm sky, or it can be used as a bold pop of color.

Using a deep, rich yellow or gold appears timeless and dependable. A bright pop of yellow in an otherwise neutral palette can feel modern and eye-catching. A soft, pastel yellow is associated with freshness, sunshine, and kids.

Red

Much richer and brighter than yellow, red is often used as a primary brand color. No matter your message, red is always powerful and strong: it’s passionate, bold, and confident.

Much like a bright pop of yellow, reds are often used as an accent in an otherwise more subdued palette. Bright red feels modern and fresh; deep red feels elegant, romantic, and timeless.

Orange

Combine yellow and red, and you get all the benefits of orange. Orange is associated with energy, health, enthusiasm, warmth, and friendliness. Often used as a contrasting color amongst others, orange exudes vitality and excitement. It can feel fresh and bright with blue or warm and cozy with brown.

Neutral Color WheelThe Neutrals: Black, White, Grey, and Beige

Neutrals seem like a basic part of your brand palette, but they really should be a cohesive, well-thought-out element. Using neutrals well allows you to use your primary colors strategically (for example, headers, CTAs, and stand-out brand elements). Although they’re a supportive element, using black, white, grey, and beige thoughtfully can help build the image you’re trying to convey.

Black

Often a default color for type or simple documents, black is a great accent—when used sparingly. It can also be a powerful brand color and can convey a sense of elegance, timelessness, and formality. For interest and a unique look, use black and white in the inverse (white on black, as opposed to black on white).

White

Clean, pristine, light, and bright, white always increases legibility and allows your content to stand on its own legs. White is the perfect canvas for showcasing your brand colors. Using white too much, however, can appear cold or dull, so balance is key.

Grey & Beige

Grey, beige, or soft black can add some personality and cohesion to your fonts and neutral elements in lieu of black or white. Grey particularly can be used to lighten deep tones in an otherwise light palette or add some depth to the tone. A light beige can separate your brand from a sea of light grey. No matter what neutral you choose, be careful not to go too deep or use too much. Grey can feel dull and bland when used too frequently or in too deep a tone, and beige can feel plain or dirty depending on usage and tone.

How UMW can Build Your Brand with Color?

When thinking of a color palette, reflect on everything you’ve read above. Why are you drawn to a specific color? What about the color conveys the message you’re trying to send? Does it contrast well with a secondary color (think: opposite ends of the color wheel) for multiple messages, or is it a part of a specific palette tone (warm or cool) to feel harmonious and subdued? However you select your brand colors, intentionality and messaging is key.

Our collaborative team at Uncommon Marketing Works is here to help you build your brand and visual identity and separate your company from the common wheel. Using a strategic approach, we can help you build your brand voice and develop color and tone to be used throughout branded assets, logos, and web design.

Get in touch with our team at UMW for your free 30-minute strategy call to learn more.

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