Of all hues, red has the greatest psychological impact. Significant exposure to this colour can cause your heart rate and blood pressure to increase. In addition, your brain will make impulsive decisions. Your body is essentially preparing itself for fight or flight.
Many brands choose red when they want to evoke excitement or work up an appetite. Consumers are more likely to make higher bids in online auctions when they are exposed to red. Price stickers tend to be more effective when they are red rather than black, especially if the colour is pushing a discount.
Our personal favourite! The colour is perceived as welcoming, gregarious, and even outgoing. Orange has strong positive associations throughout Chinese, Buddhist, and Hindu cultures. Variations of the colour, like ‘burnt sienna’, can look sophisticated. However, serious brands might want to steer clear of highly saturated oranges (think Nickelodeon).
Golden hues don’t set pulses racing, but they will make your heart beat a little faster. Intense yellows cause the greatest reaction. In part because they mimic the colours of dangerous insects, predatory animals, and the neon yellow of safety gear.
Yellow’s most dominant characteristic is cheerfulness. We associate the colour with sunshine, fields of golden wheat, and all things warm. In branding terms, this warm glow has many positive connotations — from sun-baked food to comfortable hotel rooms.
Green has many associations with the natural world. Even the name links this colour with eco-friendliness. By extension, green makes people think of organic, wholesome things, and flourishing growth. Colours on the “cool” blue-green spectrum have the opposite physiological effect to red-orange colours. Hence, bluer shades of green radiate a calm, spiritual aura. In contrast, lime green starts to pick up some of yellow’s traits.
While we might speak of “feeling blue”, the colour is largely positive. Blue helps to calm minds and beating hearts. Lighter blues are the most relaxed, once again mimicking sunny skies.
Brands often choose blue when they want to seem dependable or professional. Several airlines use blue branding, presumably to reassure potential passengers. Likewise, HP and General Electric wish to convey a message of reliability.
Purple and violet are often associated with luxury. In the Christian world, purple is the colour of piety — hence it’s being worn by the clergy. Their beautiful robes have had the cultural effect of making purple seem more valuable than other colours.
Both of these colours are good for brands wanting to create the illusion of luxury.
White is usually regarded as pure, hence its use for wedding dresses in certain cultures. In design, its complete emptiness makes it suitable as a backdrop and as a contrast with dark colours.
Black is alive with personality. The colour is associated with grieving, goth culture, and “black clouds”. But in different circumstances, black can seem professional, sleek, and classy. Gucci and Lexus have adopted black logos for these reasons.