Do you have a place away from your home where you love to sit and enjoy? Maybe it’s a relaxing break room at work or a coffee shop where you feel very focused. Or on the other spectrum, it’s likely you have a place where you feel irritated or anxious. Circumstances aside, it’s likely that the colors used in those spaces are psychologically affecting you.
Color theory is a marriage of artistic principles and the psychological impact of colors. Color is a personal experience that varies with interpretation and perception of individuals as well as its history in cultures around the world, but psychologists have been able to identify some natural emotional responses that can be applied broadly to the human experience of color.
How is your brand making people feel? Using color theory in the design for your website, emails, mailers, or other points of client interaction give you influence on their emotional responses. It’s a great way to help influence their first impressions, predict conversion and foster a better client relationship.
Comfort | Excitement | Anger | Optimism
Warm colors run a wide array of intense emotion. Some studies have shown that looking at the color red results in an increased heart rate and spikes in adrenaline. These kinds of big emotions can lead to big action, which is why the primary colors, red and yellow, are so often associated with impulse purchases. Primal warm colors and their comfort are also a gateway into appetite stimulation. But it’s important to use these colors strategically with neutral tones. Bright hues of orange and yellow reflect more light, which can cause eye irritation if oversaturated. Striking the right balance can lead quick, noticeable results.
Serenity | Wisdom | Prosperity | Growth
If your business is creative, educational, technical or financial, cool colors may be the way to spread your message. The majority of cool colors fall into a secondary category, which stimulates the frontal cortex. Blue and green tones are naturally calming as they connect humans to the outdoors. As such, they also build trust and balance with clients. When focused on cool colors, viewers are less likely to take quick action and instead carefully consider their available options. This is especially useful for brands with a complex product or a long term commitment.
Practicality | Strength | Power | Clear-Headed
Though significantly less emotional, neutrals such as black, white, browns, greys, and navy still have a part to play in connecting with a target audience. Neutral space gives the mind room to breathe, process and reset before taking on new information. If your product is colorful and bright, a neutral package, logo, or website can help bring focus to it. Neutrals are easy to process, which is what keeps black and white the primary color palette for terms and conditions, detailed copy and other down-to-business interactions.
Applying Color Psychology to Your Brand
High-visibility brands like Starbucks, Apple and Disney have put a lot of money into research to help make consumers feel hungry, trusting, energetic, relaxed, furious and so much more. The results uncovered and published by color theory experts are now widely available to give small business logos and color stories a leg up. It’s likely you already have a color you think is intuitive to your business, but even minor changes in shades and hues can have a positive effect on viewers.
Working with a branding expert can help you build a mood board with a few harmonious colors to be mixed and matched to evoke different responses in clients based upon what your business’ needs. Though this color breakdown is a great place to start, building brand recognition through color has many considerations to make and a customer journey to consider – one holds the ability to push your bottom line.