When you pass by the McDonald’s golden arches or Taco Bell’s purple bell, you probably don’t think about what those colors mean. Colors subconsciously communicate emotion or action in our everyday lives. For example, traffic lights and stop signs—we automatically know to stop, go, or take caution when we see the colors red, yellow, or green.

 

Not only does color play a crucial role when we drive, but it is also decisive when it comes to branding your company.

 

At Element5 Digital, before we begin designing a website, we take our clients through the mood board process. During this process, we determine the colors, fonts, and imagery that convey a specific emotion to our client’s audience. For example, if the client wants a user to feel inspired and comfortable while navigating their website, we would choose calming colors such as blue or green. The mood boards serve as brand guidelines for the creative team to follow when designing anything for that company.

 

Imagine your organization decided to rebrand. What colors would you choose? Use this post as a guide to color psychology to help you select colors based on what emotion you want your audience to feel.

 

Red

Red is a dominant and bold color. It communicates caution, excitement, and courage. Red can be used to encourage action, create urgency, or draw attention. Because of red’s powerful energy, it’s important to use red in moderation and make sure the color doesn’t overpower any other brand elements.


Common verticals

• Food

• Sports

• Entertainment

Common brands
• Coca-Cola
• Red Bull

• Target

 

 

Orange

Orange is a playful color for brands to use. It communicates creativity, optimism, and adventure. Orange can be used to fascinate, express freedom, warmth, or comfort. Orange can have a dual meaning. While it can be used to convey relaxation, it can also be used to motivate.


Common verticals 

• Food

• Entertainment

• Transportation


Common brands

• Amazon
• Nickelodeon

• MasterCard

 

 

Yellow

Yellow is one of the happiest colors. It communicates enthusiasm, positivity, opportunity, and spontaneity. Yellow can be used to engage an audience, express freedom, warmth, or comfort. When using yellow, be sure to use it in moderation because too much can have the opposite effect and cause anxiety.


Common verticals

• Food

• Travel

• Leisure


Common brands

• McDonald’s
• Nikon

• National Geographic

 

 

Green

Green is another color that expresses a dual meaning—nature, and logic. It communicates growth, reliability, and harmony. Green can be used to restore energy, encourage, or revitalize. Green is a great color to choose if you’re looking to relieve stress, show growth or portray health.

 

Common verticals

• Banking

• Education

• Non-Profit

 

Common brands
• Whole Foods
• Animal Planet

• Starbucks

 

 

Blue

Blue is one of the most common colors brands choose because it’s the most trustworthy. It communicates wisdom, freedom, loyalty, and honesty. Blue can be used to create order, inspire trust, stimulate productivity, and reduce stress. These trustworthy and calming attributes are what makes the color so popular among brands in the banking industry.

Common verticals

• Finance

• Technology

• Healthcare


Common brands

• Dell
• Twitter

• Oral-B

 

 

Purple

Purple is a spiritual and innovative color. It communicates imagination, luxury, compassion, and mystery. Purple can be used to encourage creativity, intuition, and can evoke wisdom and power. Purple is an excellent color for brands in the entertainment industry.

 

Common verticals

• Humanitarian

• Entertainment

• Religion

Common brands
• Hallmark
• FedEx

• Wonka

 

 

Pink

A common misconception about the color pink is that it only represents femininity. However, pink is best used to inspire compassion. It sends a caring message, conveys understanding, and gives a sense of nurturing. Pink can be used to motivate, fascinate, and encourage creativity. Pink is great for non-profits and healthcare brands committed to compassion.

Common verticals 

• Beauty

• Fashion

• Non-Profit

Common brands
• Lyft
• Breast Cancer Awareness

• Cosmopolitan

 

 

Brown

Brown is known for being deliberate and practical. It communicates reliability, stability, comfort, and is a natural color. Brown can be used to create warmth, suppress emotions, imply common sense, and stabilize. Brown isn’t often used in branding although it’s color psychology contains a lot of meaning. Tints of brown add a very clean and warm accent color to a color palette.

Common verticals     

• Legal

• Food

• Agriculture

Common brands
• UPS
• Hershey’s

• Nespresso

 

 

Gold

Gold is a loyal and dutiful color. It communicates knowledge, wealth, success, charm, and confidence. Gold can also be used to convey dependability, punctuality, and tradition. However, using too much gold can be considered egotistical. Using gold as an accent color is recommended.

Common verticals 

• Fashion

• Beauty

• Entertainment

Common brands
• Rolex
• Gucci

• MGM Grand

 

 

Black

Black represents sincerity and sophistication. It communicates power, control, discipline, and elegance. Black can be used to distinguish authority but can also hide feelings and create fear. Black needs independence from other colors and adds high contrast to color palettes.

 

Common verticals       

• Fashion

• Beauty

• Corporate

Common brands
• Chanel
• Nike

• Puma

 

 

White

White is known for being pure. It communicates cleanliness, peace, and authenticity. White can be used to represent simplicity and new beginnings. However, using too much white can give off a feeling of loneliness and emptiness.

 

Common verticals

• Technology

• Fashion­

• Corporate

 

Common brands
• Apple
• Mercedes-Benz

• Wikipedia

 

How would you adjust your company’s color palette to communicate your message? Let us know in the comments!

 

Looking to rebrand your company? Contact us today.

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Author

Sara Kauten

Art Director

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