Coke “is” red. UPS “is” brown. IBM “is” blue. These corporations understand that the proper use of color is vital to creating a positive image among consumers. Furthermore, color plays a huge role in memory recall. It stimulates all the senses, instantly conveying a message like no other method of communication.
Choosing the right dominant color for your brand is crucial. This color should appear on all your promotional materials, including your logo and product packaging. As much as possible, the color you choose should set you apart, work with your industry and image, and tie to your brand promise. It should also take into account color psychology, which is fairly complex. Colors can mean different things in different cultures, at different times, in different industries. However, in the United States advertising at least, studies suggest some universal meanings:
Blue: Cool blue is perceived as trustworthy, dependable, fiscally responsible, and secure. Strongly associated with the sky and sea, blue is dependable and serene, and universally well-liked. Blue is an especially popular color with financial institutions, as its message of stability inspires trust.
Red: Red activates your pituitary gland, increasing your heart rate and causing you to breathe more rapidly. This visceral response makes red aggressive, energetic, provocative, and attention-grabbing. Count on red to evoke a passionate response, albeit not always a favorable one. For example, red can represent danger or indebtedness (in business).
Green: In general, green connotes health, freshness, and serenity. However, green’s meaning varies with its many shades. Deeper values are associated with wealth or prestige, while light greens are calming.
Yellow: In every society, yellow is associated with the sun. Thus, it communicates optimism, positivism, light and warmth. Certain shades seem to motivate and stimulate creative thought and energy. The eye sees bright yellows before any other color, making it great for point-of-purchase displays.
Purple: Purple is a color favored by creative types. With its blend of passionate red and tranquil blue, it evokes mystery, sophistication, spirituality, and royalty (especially in European markets). Lavender evokes nostalgia and sentimentality.
Pink: Pink’s message varies by intensity. Hot pinks convey energy, youthfulness, fun and excitement and are recommended for less expensive or trendy products for women or girls (like dolls). Dusty pinks appear sentimental. Lighter pinks are more romantic.
Orange: Cheerful orange evokes exuberance, fun, and vitality. With the drama of red plus the cheer of yellow, orange is viewed as gregarious and often childlike. Research indicates that its lighter shades appeals to an upscale market. Peach tones work well with healthcare, restaurants, and beauty salons.
Brown: This earthy color conveys simplicity, durability and stability. It can also elicit a negative response from consumers who relate to it as dirty. Certain shades of brown (e.g., terracotta) can convey an upscale look. From a functional perspective, brown tends to hide dirt, making it a logical choice for some trucking and industrial companies.
Black: Black is serious, bold, powerful and classic. It creates drama and connotes sophistication. Black works well for expensive products, but can also make a product look heavy.
White: White connotes simplicity, cleanliness, and purity. The human eye views white as a brilliant color, so it immediately catches the eye in signage. White is often used with infant and health-related products.
All the colors above can be categorized into two basic categories, “warm” and “cold.” In general,warm colors, like red and yellow, send an outgoing, energetic message, while cool colors like blue are calmer and more reserved. However, brightening a cool color increases its vibrancy and reduces its reserve.