If you’re like most people, you probably don’t spend much time thinking about colors. Unless you’re an artist, odds are you haven’t stopped to reflect on how different colors make you feel – or why it matters whether something is red versus green.
However, branding experts have spent a lot of time and money figuring out how you’re going to respond to different colors!
A simple color change can have a dramatic impact on a brand – and influence whether customers trust a brand or feel excited about a product.
The Role of Color in Branding
Research has shown that colors do affect how we feel. In fact, one study showed that 90% of snap judgements between two products were made based on color. When you’re designing your logo, it’s critical that you pick colors that will support your branding efforts and help you connect with your audience.
No successful brand picked their color by accident. The colors used for the most famous logos were carefully chosen to elicit a particular response.
So what’s the story behind the most common colors used in brands?
Why Use Blue in Branding
As a cool, gentle color, blue is soothing and tends to have a calming effect on audiences. It’s also strongly associated with depth, intelligence, and trust. When customers see blue, they are more likely to trust you as a capable, qualified, and reliable business.
Facebook, IBM, Gillette, BMW, Ford, Samsung, and AT&T are some of the biggest brands with predominantly blue logos. Medical logos also frequently use blue for its associations with trust and reliability.
Why Use Red in Branding
Conversely, red is associated with excitement, passion, and desire. As such, it’s used by a variety of entertainment, food, and so-called “vice” products like alcohol and tobacco. It’s also strongly linked to urgency and commands your attention.
By using red, advertisers are trying to elicit an “act-fast” impulse in their audiences – think of how clearance sales and price cuts are always colored red. Netflix, Budweiser, Marlboro, Red Bull, CNN, and Disney all leverage red to draw your attention to their hot-button brands.
Why Use Green in Branding
As another “cool” color like blue, green is often associated with tranquility and relaxation. We also tend to think of growth and renewal due it’s strong link to nature. On the flip side of the coin, we also think of green as the “go” color, which ties in nicely with its connection to growth and vitality.
Although we tend to think of environmentally-oriented brands when we think of green, context is everything here. Green also meshes well with financial companies due to it’s associations with wealth and growth, while the impression of freshness suits grocery stores or restaurants.
Starbucks, BP Oil, Mint, Whole Foods, Monster, and John Deere all double-down on these associations with green logos and branding.
Why Use Orange in Branding
Orange indicates cheerful energy, friendly enthusiasm, and confidence. Since it’s named after the citrus fruit, there are strong associations here with a bold flavor and bit of zest.
Orange is also closely linked with the construction and safety industries. Traffic cones, bright orange vests, and hard hats tie the color to thoughts of production and a sense of “hey, make sure you see me!”
Amazon, The Home Depot, Gatorade, Fanta, and Harley-Davidson all make liberal use of orange in their branding.
Why Use Yellow in Branding
When we see yellow, the first things that jump to mind are smiley-faces and the sun. Warmth, happiness, and positivity all radiate from this color. A bright color, it grabs your audiences’ attention more than blue or green without being so bold as red. It’s optimistic and also one of the most visible colors on the spectrum – like orange, it’s commonly used for safety vests.
Snapchat, Ferrari, CAT, McDonalds, Shell, and Ikea are some of the biggest global “yellow” brands.
So How Do You Pick?
If you’re a close reader you’ll have noticed we listed a laundry list of associations for each color – with some being unrelated or even contradictory. When we see green, do we think about money or the environment?
The truth is, it’s all about context. We have so many different associations with each color, the color can communicate totally different emotions and thoughts depending on the unique brand and context. To continue with the green example, it communicates something totally different in Starbucks’ advertising compared to Mint or Tropicana.
In the same manner, red can be used for food and entertainment logos, while it also fits for non-profits like the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association. It’s all about the context and branding that the color is paired with.
Fit is Everything
There’s no easy answer for which color to use with your brand…each color can have great positive associations. The best advice we can give you is to pick a color that fits the rest of your brand. It should mesh perfectly with your messaging and business philosophy. If you get any sense that it doesn’t match your other branding, then it’s probably not the right color.
By choosing the right color, we can send a simple yet powerful message to our audiences. What does your color say about your brand?
Give us a call today to talk about how you can carefully use colors to improve your branding.