Color psychology 101

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Color psychology is real: different colors make us feel a whole array of emotions.

I’m sure you’ve experienced this feeling when you paint a room and it totally changes its vibe and energy. Or if you feel sad you find yourself wearing different colours than when you’re happy and full of energy. That’s because colours make you feel.

Colours communicate a very strong message to our subconsciousness – we don’t usually understand it on a logical level, but we get the message.

 

If you’d like your clients to feel inspired and full of energy, while making sure you come across as an honest and open person, you may want to choose colours from the Spring Personality colour palette: those are all light, bright and clear colours from yellow, to lime green, pastel pink and blue and light greys.

Want to look sophisticated, romantic and elegant? Choose cool, bluefish and purple colours of Summer.

Is passionate, warm and energetic your vibe? Choose warm Autumn colours from red, through orange to yellow, to deep purple, green and brown.

Perfect colours for a strong, practical and dynamic brand is Winter: with bold, contrasting colours like black, white, strong yellow, blue red and orange. (This is the only season that contains pure white and black).

 

Each colour evokes a different feeling in us and communicates different messages. Each prime colour can have a different shade that also changes how it makes us see it (think lime green vs. muted, pastel green or bottle green).

For now, let’s just focus on prime colours, so we can then dive deeper into each colour palette another time.

 

Color psychology 101

Just think about how your mood can lift when you put on this yellow sweater. Of how you feel so much more confident when you put on this red lipstick.

Colors communicate with us on a subconscious level, that’s why it’s so important to use the right ones for your brand archetype.

Not using this powerful knowledge is loosing out on personality, vibrancy and impact of your brand.

 

We’re hardwired to read and crave visuals

Visual processing involves over 50% of the human brain and we can process visuals in less than 1/10 of a second.
That means before we’re even going to read any of your website copy, we will have already processed and subconsciously understood your visuals.

Visuals are easier to understand

It takes twice as long to understand and see the meaning of words as it is to process a colour, symbol or a visual.
Visuals enable instant connections: our brain evolved to make connections between random objects AND to make sense of patterns and colours we’re seeing.  That’s why we can see a face in a random pattern or a bunny in a cloud.

We all have our favourite colour, but…

It may be aligned with our personality, but it doesn’t have to be the perfect colour for our branding.

After all, you are NOT always your brand.

To determine which colours you should be using for your brand, you should start with getting clear on your business mission, vision and perfect client profile. The best way to do it is to answer some powerful questions, like:

  • What do I want to be know for?
  • What words describe exactly how I want to come across?
  • What I need my clients to know for sure about my business?
  • How I want my clients to feel when contacting with my brand?
  • Who is my perfect customer, what do they like to be talked to?

Or simply take our Brand Archetypes quiz and learn about your brand personality and ideal clients in detail.

Brand archetype quiz

Which Brand Archetype are you?

Discover your brand personality + learn about your ideal clients and brand experience.

 

READ ALSO:  Brand photography backed by psychology

 

Find colours that communicate your brand personality

Each Brand Archetype has a different personality and needs different visual style to be represented well. That’s why it’s so important you don’t skip the step of discovering your Brand Archetype. Only once you understand your brand personality will you see more clearly which colours and tones to use best.

 

Discover primary colours and their meaning

Like I said before, we all understand colours a bit differently. Sometimes, even our mood will affect this understanding: someone upset may see the colour red as more aggressive, than someone who feels down and sad (they will see it as optimistic and pleasantly energetic).

Colours do however have universal meaning, so read along to dive deeper into it.

 

color psychology 101: green

Green

Balanced, harmonious, abundant, earthy

Green is a color of harmony, so if your brand is to communicate this – this is your color. This is also a great color for brands that want to be perceived as organic, aligned with nature. If you sell scented candles you make yourself – this could be a perfect color for you. Choose from deep olive green to send a “balanced” message, through bottle green that seems professional and elegant, to light pastel green that’s calm and elegant. Be careful to balance warm green with other colors (like blue), or you can create a not so elegant effect of earthy, dirty green.

 

color psychology 101: yellow

Yellow

optimistic, powerful, high-self esteem, strong emotionally

Want to be perceived as a strong person, who has a lot to say? Yellow is a go-to color for you then! Light, pastel yellow will be perfect for the Spring Personality, whilst deep yellow works great with white & black of Winter and adds a lot of energy and statement there. You can choose a mustard shade to put into your Autumn palette and add an elegant, deep element to it.
Be careful: extensive use of yellow can make you look as needy and lacking in confidence (and it was supposed to be optimistic, right? I know!).

 

color psychology 101: orange

Orange

Creative, optimistic, positive, passionate

We all love a peachy pastel color – it’s very feminine, whilst not as trivial as pastel pink. Deep tangerine color comes across as super energetic, can be elegant and full of passion. When mixed with beige, creates beautiful mix you’d like to lick. If your brand is feminine, strong and passionate – choose orange as your primal and beige as your supportive color.

Be careful not to use it too much: strong colors are best used as a splash every now and there, so it really leaves impact without being too overwhelming and looking cheap.

color psychology 101: red

Red

strong, passionate determined, energetic, courageous

Have you ever been in a great mood and wanted to put a red lipstick on? Yes, that’s the color of passion, energy and happiness. If you want your brand to communicate that – choose read and never go back.

As with orange, use in moderation, or you can come across as angry!

 

color psychology 101: pink

Pink

Nurturing, warm, optimistic, hopeful, kind, intuitive

This is the main color of my branding, connected with light, cappuccino beige.

READ ALSO:  4 common branding mistakes that repel clients

I want my brand to be perceived as nursing, intuitive and warm, so it communicates to people I can help them build and nurture their brands, intuitively understand their needs give them a boost of optimism and inspiration.

Be careful not to use it too much, you can appear as childish and lacking self-esteem.

 

color psychology 101: black

Black

Powerful, safe, sophisticated, dynamic, dramatic

Splashes of black can be very elegant (you see a lot of it in magazines, used in elegant serif or script fonts, connected with beautiful imagery), but used too much can appear as draining and heavy. Use it wisely and with bright colors so it really shines among them and you use it’s “light side”. You can find black only in the Winter Color Personality.

 

color psychology 101: white

White

Pure, clear, sharp, hygienic, ethereal, clean

Think not only clear and sharp white, but creamy whites, light beige, butter whites. White space is very powerful and should be respected and added to any design. I will soon write a separate post about white space in design, so please stay tuned if you’re interested (or sign up for my newsletter to make sure you won’t miss it).

White works beautifully mixed with a splash of colour every now and there. It makes other colours shine and bring light to your designs. It’s a perfect colour if you’d like to be perceived as clean, but be careful – sharp white feels hygienic and it’s very cold.

 

color psychology 101: gold

Gold

Warm, rich, elegant, wealthy, glamorous

Works best as a splash of color, given a lot of white space. Mixed with white and gold creates a very elegant and sophisticated look, though it’s very strong and you will surely communicate very strong personality through that.

Used with muted colors adds a lot of sophistication and becomes light and optimistic.

If you’re brand is premium and expensive – this color should appear in your color palette.

Used excessively can appear as demanding and selfish.

 

color psychology 101: silver

Silver

Prestigious, wealthy, balanced, glamorous, calming

It’s a lot more calming than gold, yet still very elegant and sophisticated. Again, it works best used wisely not excessively.

Both gold and silver can appear as grey or “dirty” yellow on the web, so make sure you apply a gold or silver texture, or a grain (in Photoshop), to illuminate it and make it look like one of these metals.

 

 

color psychology 101: grey

Grey

Sophisticated, glamorous

This colour is very difficult to use – it does not work great as a primary colour, it needs to mix up with a different colour that’s going to bring life to it and shine its light on it. Try not to use a grey with black and white only, you will appear very cold and lifeless.

Grey works great with pastel colours – for a delicate look, and with bright colours for an optimistic feel and statement.

There are many shades of grey and try to be careful when designing for the web, as many people won’t see very light grey if their screen isn’t 27’ iMac.

You can choose from clear grey (that’s pure black and white), or warm or cool tones which will complement their primary colours.

READ ALSO:  5 stages your customers go through before they are ready to buy

Do not use it too much, or it will take personality out of your designs.

 

Colours are important, but they themselves won’t build your brand personality

Brand archetypes will, though.

Brand archetypes are a great way to use psychology to tap into your clients and customers emotions and influence them, help you focus your brand WHILE still staying true to your values.

You don’t need to pretend to be somebody else, you don’t need to try to be everything to everyone.

The more you focus, the easier it gets to attract the right customers AND define your brand’s personality (and voice).

 

Brand archetype quiz

Which Brand Archetype are you?

Discover your brand personality + learn about your ideal clients and brand experience.

 

11 COMMENTS

11 Comments

  1. Sheryl Landry

    Hey there

    Reply
  2. adoreddesigns

    Hi Sheryl, lovely to see you here! Stop by anytime 🙂

    Reply
  3. Ridley Fitzgerald

    It’s really interesting to learn more about color psychology. I like how you said that using colors for your business is a good way to subtly influence customers and people. I had never thought about it before, but colors really do make me feel, like you said! That’s really cool.

    Reply
    • Alex

      It’s great to hear you agree, Ridley! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

  4. tajhizyar

    interesting ! Thanks for information !

    Reply
  5. jayino

    Thanks for your good website and information !

    Reply
    • Alex

      You’re welcome!

  6. Samantha

    Great blog – I’m building a vegan brand, I love the olive and posh type green colours but feel Lime, may stand out more- what are your thoughts and what can you team lime with?!

    Reply
    • Alex

      Hey, Samantha!

      Congratulations on building a brand! It’s worth going through the strategy first so you know which colours will help you attract ideal customers and tell your brand story first.

      Visuals are just a representation of your brand strategy- a way of communicating it to your customers on a subconscious level. Don’t jump into design without taking that step!

  7. Dana Nicole

    My favorite color is pink – mostly softer shades. Color psychology is such a fun and interesting topic! Thank you for also turning this information into a nice infographic 🙂

    Reply
    • Alex

      Thanks for visiting our site and leaving a comment, Dana! Yes, it is, I love talking about it!

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I’ve combined my 10+ years experience as a graphic designer for brands like Jimmy Choo, Karl Lagerfeld, River Island, and Childrensalon in my early career + many top influencers and brands during my work at Adored Designs with my passion for psychology and the way humans form relationships.

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