Primary and secondary colors have well-understood psychological implications. They form the base of any color scheme you make, so they’re a good place to start.
Red is the color that captures the most attention. Red is associated with passion, excitement, danger, and action. It’s an energetic color that is used strategically in marketing. It’s the preferred color for “ORDER NOW” buttons and similar calls to action.
YouTube and Coca Cola are among the largest examples of red color schemes. Coca Cola’s brand surrounds global happiness and red is used to build excitement around that idea.
YouTube’s logo is also more brilliant than it gets credit for. The red portion surrounds the play button, which triggers a feeling of excitement surrounding the action of playing a video.
What you need to remember is that red is the most intense color on the eyes. It is used to spur action but use it strategically and sparingly. There’s a reason why calls to action are usually red, while stop signs and other danger warnings are also often red. The intensity and immediate attention are the overarching themes.
Orange is a close cousin of red. It represents adventure and creativity. To a balanced extent, it also adds a sense of passion. In any case, it’s used to add fun and relief to any website or design it’s used on. While orange attracts attention and evokes some passion, it’s not as intense or commanding as red.
One great example of orange in branding is The Home DepotM. The Home Depot sells products used in home improvement, and the color is used to evoke creative and light energy.
Yellow is a warm color that represents sunshine. Yellow represents happiness, optimism, and positive emotions. However, it’s also an energetic color that can be used as a warning sign.
In branding, yellow is normally used to create cheerfulness and optimism. It’s a color of hope. Common examples of this are promotions, such as discounts and free shipping options online. As for companies, yellow is prominently used by Ikea. This could be in order to build optimism around the idea of furniture shopping. Many of the company’s best customers are people, who recently built or bought a new home, or those looking to furnish their new apartments.
Yellow is a great color to associate with a brand, but it must be used wisely. It’s a color that can easily turn a design ugly if used improperly.
Green sparks thoughts surrounding two things dear to most peoples’ hearts: nature and money. Psychologically, green is the color of renewal, health, growth, and fertility. It can also have negative connotations, as you’ve likely heard the term “green with envy”.
Brands that offer products or services revolving around nature often feature the color green. Roots is one of the more recognizable examples. Roots models are often displayed outdoors, and green is used to attract customers who enjoy the outdoors.
Remember, even if you’re not offering natural products, green can be used to tie your brand to an outdoor niche. This can be true of fashion and machinery design companies.
Blue is linked to the sea and the sky. Psychologically, it represents peace, trust, and calmness. But like the sea and sky, it can also represent emotional distance, coldness and depression.
In marketing, you see blue placed beside some elements where instilling a feeling of stability and trust is important. Examples include warranty accept buttons and free shipping buttons. When you’re asked whether you accept terms and conditions, “Accept” is usually a strong blue, and “Do Not Accept” is normally a dull grey.
The most prominent uses of blue by big brands are in big tech. Facebook, Twitter, and Skype feature blue visuals. But you can also see blue in Ikea and Walmart, who try to communicate trustworthiness and positivity in their branding. In Ikea’s logo and design, blue is combined with yellow to communicate each color’s respective values simultaneously.
Pink is a color that psychologically represents playfulness, love, and femininity. It’s often used on products and services dedicated to female audiences.
Pink is featured by some of the biggest brands selling to female audiences. Examples include Victoria’s Secret and Barbie. But Pink is seldom used alone, as it is best accompanied with another color that completes its message. Sites for brands like these will often use pink in their CTAs, as it’s a positive color that is associated with positive actions.
Purple has long been considered the color of royalty. It psychologically represents luxury, nobility, and power. But it has to be used sparingly in most cases. The negative psychological implications of purple include arrogance and anger.
Purple is often used alongside other colors in logos and other branding designs. For example, Hallmark features purple prominently, but not overwhelmingly.
Brown is a color that’s associated with simplicity and trust. It’s the literal “down-to-earth” color that your brain automatically associates with nature. It’s no surprise that brown is most often used in natural products’ designs.
Brown is not necessarily an unattractive color, but depending on its purpose, it’s best coupled with other colors. You often see it featured alongside green or dark yellows, which helps it avoid appearing dull while completing its mission in branding. Take the example of UPS, which always works to represent itself as the grounded, down-to-earth delivery company.
Black is a prominent color in branding. Psychologically, black represents strength, luxury, and sophistication. But it can also be used to represent sadness. That’s why it’s both the funeral color and the color featured by Nike and luxury car and fashion companies.
Black is used in marketing for CTAs when it’s the prominent color in the company’s branding. It’s generally a good color to use as it’s strong, demands attention, and makes text easy to read.
White is associated with cleanliness and humility. Psychologically, it means different things in different cultures. In North America, white represents peace, while elsewhere it represents death, so you’ll need to keep these differences in mind depending on your target audience.
In marketing, white is most prominently featured on eCommerce platforms, particularly in retail. It’s used as a background for product photos to make most other colors easier to see and investigate.
White is normally best used as a background color, but it can be paired with logos and other brand designs alongside a dark color. In text design, black text on a white background is the most readable.