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Colour theory in advertising

Well designed logos are packed with meaning, whether it’s metaphorical or literal. Your logo is the synopsis of your brand, and it should convey your promise to the customer. There are a number of factors to consider in the way a logo is portrayed. This includes Colour, Shape, Font, Style and Composition.

Today, we are exploring the psychology of colour in branding and how the right colours in a logo can manipulate the viewer’s emotions.

Much research has gone into the psychology and meaning of colours and how they elicit different emotions in the viewer.

In fact, renowned psychologist, Carl Jung is credited as one of the pioneer’s in this field. He recognised that different colours influence perceptions that are not obvious, such as attractiveness, the taste of food or the effectiveness of stimulants, regressors and placebos.

Further studies have proved that colour can help shape and change attitude and behaviour. And this, of course, has a huge impact on marketing, as it can help a business establish trust and familiarity by eliciting certain emotions.

Studies have found that a product’s colour can influence 60-80% of a customer’s purchasing decision. So, not only is a colour able to strengthen the brand association, but it can also affect sales. As an example, the combination of red and yellow has been found to stimulate hunger – it’s not a coincidence therefore that many fast-food brands use this combination.

So, let’s look at the psychology of colour in branding:

Colour theory in advertising


White is often used when the brand is associated with purity. This covers feelings of peace, tranquillity, hygiene, freshness and transparency. It is often used when the brand needs to convey innocence and elegance.

Colour theory in advertising


Black is a pure colour and associated with control and all things serious. This creates a feeling of professionalism, power and authority. This colour is often used when the brand needs to make a powerful statement.

Colour theory in advertising


Grey is a neutral colour and is serious whilst being impartial. It creates a feeling of efficiency and support and is typically used as a secondary colour within a brand.

Colour theory in advertising


Brown is the colour of earth and is associated with security. Like black, brown is serious but without its darker overtones. Brown is linked with humility, reliability and honesty and is often used by brands that want to be serious whilst being “down to earth”.

Colour theory in advertising


Red is the colour of blood and the heart. As such, it is inherently linked to our base emotions – love, passion, romance, excitement and warmth. Moreover, it also is associated with danger, anger and warning.

Red is universally loud and attention-grabbing and is often used in brands that want to make a bold statement to elicit an immediate response.

Colour theory in advertising


Light blue is associated with clear skies and is linked to tranquillity. This covers the feelings of trust, spirituality, healing and wisdom. It is often used where brands want to portray a sense of calm.

Dark blue also offers a feeling of trust but through authority, confidence and respectability.

Colour theory in advertising


Green is the colour of grass and vegetation and is therefore linked with the environment, nature and all things natural. This covers health, wealth and new beginnings (eg. fertility and growth). It is often used by brands wishing to portray themselves as healthy and balanced.

Colour theory in advertising


Yellow is associated with the sun and is linked to warmth. This covers happiness, joy and energy. This colour is often used by brands that wish to portray themselves as fun and positive.

Colour theory in advertising


Like yellow, orange is associated with the sun and is warm. But it is a lot more energetic. Orange elicits feelings of excitement, vitality, playfulness and action. It is often used by brands to instil a feeling of change.

Colour theory in advertising


Pink is red’s playful younger sister and is linked to femininity. This covers innocence, romance, tranquillity and youthfulness. This tends to be used by brands to promote a sense of the feminine.

Colour theory in advertising


This colour is associated with quality and enlightenment. It creates a feeling of luxury, sophistication and creativity. This tends to be used by brands to portray themselves as higher (perceived) value and exclusivity.

Understanding the psychology of colour in branding is a vital step in the brand’s creative process. Colour lays the foundations for a brand’s message, meaning and emotion. Get it right, and you’ll ultimately help your brand maximise its potential.