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Color Psychology

Have you ever walked into a doctor’s office with bright red walls? Of course not. It’s more likely a pastel green that can actually make you feel more relaxed. Color has a notable effect on our moods and can even influence how we react to a design. An experienced designer knows this well and strategically selects colors that will create the desired reaction for a product or service.  

Although colors can affect individuals in different ways, the overall tone is universal. Red is bold and attention-grabbing while blue evokes a sense of trust and authenticity. 

Note that the degree of each shade will produce different reactions (i.e. a light yellow green having a more energetic vibe vs a deep evergreen shade offering a more calming, conservative feel). In general though, brighter shades tend to be more energizing while darker shades offer a more relaxed and refined vibe.

Red

Bold, Unapologetic, Romantic

A very powerful and confident color, red is associated with intense emotions like love, anger and aggression. It can be used to indicate danger (think stop signs), power (red sports car) or even passion (Valentine’s Day hearts). 

Seeing the color red can raise respiration and blood pressure, so use with caution. This color is seen on national flags, sports advertisements, and even lingerie ads. 

A bright, red background with black and white text commands attention to Word & Co’s ‘About Us’ page. The bulky text and limited information helps the user digest the information without being overwhelmed by the blatant hue.

Source: https://work.co/facts

Successful Red Brands: Target, Coca Cola, Netflix, Staples, YouTube, Marlboro, Red Bull, Chick-Fil-A & Red Cross

Orange

Creative, Fresh, Enthusiastic

Orange is a friendlier shade than its cousin red. It is associated with optimism, creativity, vitality success, playfulness and sunshine. The color of oranges, it can also be associated with health and wellness. It’s an effective color choice to market children’s toys, food, and even home merchandise (Home Depot). 
Whataburger, a family friendly burger restaurant uses a few different shades of orange to evoke feelings of warmth, trust and positive energy to their audience.

Source: Whataburger.com

Successful Orange Brands: Fanta, Harley Davidson, Amazon, Nickelodeon, Mastercard, Reese, Soundcloud & Firefox

Yellow

Sunny, Joyful, Cautious

Yellow is a complex color representing cheerfulness, knowledge, confidence, communication and creativity. It is also associated with cowardice and warning (think caution signs), so use carefully.

Mailchimp recently rebranded their website using a striking yellow color scheme. The logo has been simplified and converted to black for easy visibility over the yellow background. It makes the site more vibrant and memorable, while still engaging the audience with its new innovative look. 

Source: MailChimp.com

Successful Yellow Brands: McDonalds, Best Buy, Ikea, National Geographic, Snapchat, Shell, Mello Yellow & Cheerios 

Green

Healthy, Prosperous, Tranquil

Green is the color of our environment. It’s about growth, balance, nurturing, renewal, even prosperity. It is one of the most soothing colors and–as a result–is commonly seen in medical offices.  

You will find this color in environmentally friendly and organic nutrition products as well as banks, financial organizations and medical products. Starbucks utilizes green in their logo to embody the growth, novelty and financial success of the company.

Successful Green Brands: Spotify, Heineken, BP, Whole Foods, Android, Tic Tac, John Deere & Publix

Purple

Perceptive, Artistic, Royal

Purple is a creative and intuitive shade.  

With its imaginative & introspective properties, many businesses like design studios, spiritual or counseling centers employ the color in their marketing designs. The color of royalty, purple can also represent financial or ecommerce sites nicely (think WooCommerce).

Purple is a balancing color of the intellect and emotions, connecting the spiritual and physical world. It is not uncommon for psychologists and philosophers to have an affinity for this intriguing color. 

Kaleidoscope cleverly uses a combination of deep and bright purple to give their tech site a creative and edgy feel. The dark background pulls the user’s attention to the headline while the bright purple call to action button commands attention to download their application. 

Successful Purple Brands: Cadbury, Yahoo, Roku, Niveo, Monster, Zoopla, Hallmark & Aussie

Blue

Honest, Down to Earth, Calming

Perhaps the most popular of all colors, blue conveys trust, serenity and graciousness. It is easy on the eyes and gives off a welcoming vibe. As such, you will find this color commonly used in financial, legal and medical practices. 

The color of sky and water, blue is seen every day in our environment, is extremely versatile, and compliments other colors effectively. 

bZx effectively uses multiple shades of blue in their website help build a potential client’s trust for their margin trading industry. 

Source: bzx.network

Successfully Blue Brands: Facebook, Skype, Ford, Paypal, Samsung, GAP, General Electric, Chase & IBM

Brown

Ordinary, Sincere, Earthy

Brown is a very natural color. It is the color of our earth. It conveys  solidity, safety and a strong foundation. By itself, brown can appear dull and unrefined, but combined with other colors, it can be strikingly beautiful. It’s an excellent color choice for outdoor recreational companies, coffee shops, and wood furniture stores. 

Guarda Golf Hotel & Residences uses brown very effectively for their elegant site. The brown gives it a warm, cozy feeling to entice the potential buyer to book a hotel room. 

Source: guardagolf.com

Successful Brown Brands: UPS, Hersheys, A&W, Cotton, Cracker Barrel, M&M’s, Hollister & Back to Nature 

Black

Formal, Powerful, Secretive

Black is the absence of all colors and it can convey the feeling of power, sophistication and mystery. It is the color of evil, the night sky, and ravens. Despite the negative connation, black can exude elegance and confidence, creates contrast against other colors, and makes text extra legible against a white background. 

The black background provides a perfect contrast to the white text and interesting graphical outline. The ‘o’ in two also serves as a target to bring your focus to “two chimp’s awesome, no nonsense coffee.”

Source: twochimpscoffee.com

 
Successful Black Brands: Nike, Chanel, Canon, Adidas, Belk, Allure, Forbes, PBS, Puma, Calvin Klein & Loreal

White

Innocent, spotless, sophisticated

It’s clean, pure and unadulterated. It is associated with virtue, but can also give off a cold or formal tone. White can complement literally any color and bring attention to the places you want with its negative space. Adding just a touch of another color to white can bring a very elegant feel to the design. 

Apple does it best. A clean, easy to read design that accentuates the sleek phones showcasing colorful images of planets.

Successful White Brands: Crocs, Teslr, The North Face, Nescafe, Apple, ABC,  Pop Tarts, Uber, Dove & Pandora

Gray

Professional, Muted, Somber

A blend of white and black, gray is a very neutral color, which makes it an excellent transitional color. Sometimes pure white or pure black can be too stark for the design. You can choose a deep gray instead of black or the lightest of grays to add some color to a lackluster design. Since gray can seem gloomy, be sure to balance it out with color when appropriate. 

My Own Bike uses a gray background very effectively in their interactive bike building site. The use of neutral dark gray in the header text and logo helps eliminate distractions, drawing attention to the most important element—the bike. 

Source: myownbike.de

Successful Gray Brands: Wikipedia, Wii, Sketchers, Mercedes-Benz, Swarovski, WordPress, Microsoft

Author Kathleen Sanders

More posts by Kathleen Sanders

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