Brand Colour: Emotion and Feeling
The colour that you choose to be your brand colour can evoke emotions and feelings in your audience. If you are rebranding or just starting out, choose the best hue to build your brand.
Colour and emotion have a strong link between them. Warm colours elicit very different emotions than cool colors, and muted tones elicit different emotions in viewers than bright colors. Understanding just a little of what is called "colour psychology" can help you choose the right colour to match the emotion and tone that you want your brand to set.
In studies over 80% of people claim that colour is responsible for brand awareness, while nearly 85% of people are first attracted primarily by colour. However colour can also work against your brand. Research shows that 52% of customers will not return to a shop if they do not like the colour combinations used!
Research has shown that different colours can make us feel happy or sad, overwhelmed, angry, calm, relaxed or even hungry! Coke bottles, Ferraris, and sale signs are all red for a reason. Advertisers know that certain colours will help set the context for their ad and prepare the viewer to receive the message in the way that they want.
There are always exceptions, and in some cultures, colours are perceived differently, but for the majority, there is a clear link.
A modern artist, Barnett Newman, painted a dramatic "colour field" of red with a thin stripe of blue on the left side. He called it "Who's Afraid of Red, Yellow, and Blue III." When exhibited in 1986, a visitor attacked the painting as he felt it overwhelmed him. This was not an isolated incident; a number of Newman's paintings have been damaged by colour enraged viewers!
Brand Colour - Which Is best?
Only you can decide what tones work best for you. Branding experts suggest picking three main brand colours—a base, an accent, and a background. Usually, white is chosen as a background, as it is neutral. Be aware that white is associated with death in some cultures, so think twice about where you're focusing your brand!
Black can be modern and stylish as a background. Studies have shown, however, that text on a black background can be challenging to read for some people and that, unless done really well, can be confusing and oppressive to viewers.
Red makes your viewer feel passionate and energised. It is the warmest and most dynamic of the colours, and it triggers opposing emotions. It is often associated with passion and love, as well as anger and danger. Just seeing the colour red can increase a person’s heart rate and make them excited. It is great for drawing attention but can be overwhelming in large doses. Red is excellent as an accent colour to complement your main brand colour.
Orange evokes enthusiasm and energy. This colour increases feelings of vitality, friendliness, and happiness. Like red, orange draws attention, but it is less overwhelming and aggressive. It's great to use as a call to action and accent colour. If used too frequently, orange can cause anxiety.
Yellow goes with happiness and spontaneity. It is warm and energising and is associated with laughter, hope, and sunshine. Accents of yellow help give your brand energy and will make the viewer feel optimistic and cheerful. However, yellow tends to reflect more light and can irritate a person’s eyes. Also, too much yellow can be overwhelming. In design, it is often used to grab attention in an energetic and comforting way.
Green makes your viewer feel optimistic and refreshed. This colour is associated with health, new beginnings, and wealth. Green is the easiest on the eyes and should be used to relax and create balance in a brand design. It is a great colour to use if your company wants to depict growth, security, or inspire possibility. Green can also make a viewer feel calm and relaxed.
Blue engenders a feeling of safety and relaxation. Blue evokes feelings of calmness and spirituality, as well as security and trust. Interestingly, just seeing the colour blue causes the body to create chemicals that are calming! As a result, it is no surprise that blue is the most commonly used colour by brands. Dark blues are great for corporate designs because they help give a professional feel, but using too much can create a cold, disengaged feeling. Light blues give a more relaxing, friendly feel. Great examples are social sites like Facebook and Twitter, which use lighter blues.
Our brand is purple. Purple makes you feel creative. Purple is associated with mystery, creativity, royalty, and wealth. Lighter shades of purple are often used to soothe or calm a viewer, hence why it is used in beauty products. Incorporate purple to make a design look more luxurious and wealthy, or a lighter purple to show romance and mystery. I like purple as it reminds me of chocolate (because chocolate is luxurious, romantic, mysterious, and tasty).
Pink makes your viewer feel playful and romantic. Pink represents femininity and romance, sensitivity and tenderness. It’s inherently sweet, cute, and charming.
Brown creates a sense of stability and support. Brown is warm and friendly, practical and dependable, and can also represent the old-fashioned and well established.
Black and White
Hence, black and white are not strictly colours (they are shades). Hence, I am treating them differently.
Black gives a feeling of being sophisticated, classic, and serious. Black evokes power, luxury, and elegance, but can also mean professionalism, neutrality, and simplicity. Black is bold, powerful and is often used to evoke mystery. In certain contexts and cultures, the colour black can also refer to death, mourning, or sadness.
White is associated with minimalism and simplicity. Using a lot of white in design creates a minimalist aesthetic and can result in a simple, fresh, and clean look (think Apple). In many cultures, white is used to refer to virginity, purity, and innocence (think bridal gowns and baby clothes), although in some cultures it switches to black for death and mourning. It is the most neutral colour. Finally, grey-halfway between black and white. Grey gives a feeling of seriousness and professionalism. Grey is a colour that represents maturity, responsibleness, formality, and dependability, while on the negative side, it can mean being overly conservative, conventional, and lacking in emotion. Grey is safe and subdued, serious and reserved.
Online Generator Tools
There are a number of free online tools to help you generate a palette that would work well for you. Here is a list of tools that I use or have used in the past. I use Adobe and Paletton most often, as I find these the easiest to use and they both help you account for colour blindness. Paletton also allows you to see how your colours would look on a sample website, which is very helpful.
Another good idea is to just roam around the internet and look at some brands in a similar field and see how they use colour. This will also give you design ideas too.
This is all subjective
Remember that colour and emotion are linked, and the ideas on this page are what the majority of people feel, but they are all subjective. You may feel energised by brown and sad when you see yellow. The link between colour and emotion is also context-based, so culture and social norms have an influence on people's perceptions. However, largely, the colours do follow the emotions listed.
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