How to Use the Psychology of Colors in Business

Posted on October 8, 2023 | Updated on October 8, 2023

Understanding the psychology of colors in business is essential to the success of any design project. Brands can benefit from solid color schemes by attracting attention and creating brand recognition. As a designer, you must understand how to use colors to represent your brand and product best.

What is Color Psychology?

Color psychology is the theory that colors can affect human behavior and emotions. It holds the idea that colors can elicit physical and emotional reactions, influencing how people act. For example, red can stimulate people’s appetites and blue can make people feel at ease.

As the theory suggests its impact on behavior, color can also be used in business to elicit different emotions and associations. Some brands choose colors in their logos and marketing materials to appeal to their target market. Other companies use contrasting colors to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Tips on How to Use Psychology of Colors in Business

Colors determine your customer’s first impression of your brand. The right colors can make your brand look trustworthy, honest and relatable. Choosing colors that fit your brand can help you turn prospects into loyal customers. Here are some ways you can use the psychology of colors in business and influence people with color association:

Research Your Target Audience

Individually, people attach meaning to colors based on their gender and history. On a broader scale, nationalities perceive colors based on their culture and belief systems. This difference is vital to creating a successful marketing campaign and branding.

Western cultures associate white with elegance, peace and purity. On the other hand, Eastern cultures typically use white as a symbol of mourning. While there may be some overlap between the two cultures, it’s always a good idea to research what ideas are associated with the colors you plan to use.

In the 1950s, Pepsi saw a significant drop in sales when it tried to refresh its branding in South East Asia. The beverage company installed light blue vending machines in the region, unaware that the color symbolized death and mourning. It’s a cautionary tale of how doing a little research can save a company from failed marketing strategies.

Think About Colors and Their Meanings

People from different backgrounds see things differently so it may be nearly impossible to create a universal cheat sheet for all the colors and what they are associated with. However, learning the basics of color psychology — colors and the typical ideas they’re associated with — will give you a head-start in creating an effective color scheme for your business.

Here are some come of the most common emotions and ideas associated with colors:

  • Yellow: happiness, optimism, warmth, fear, warning, caution
  • Blue: calm, peacefulness, trust, coldness, unfriendliness, emotionlessness
  • Red: love, passion, excitement, power, anger, danger, warning
  • Green: health, nature, growth, envy, blandness, boredom
  • Purple: wisdom, wealth, luxury, excess, decadence, moodiness
  • Orange: confidence, energy, friendliness, warmth, immaturity, ignorance
  • Black: power, sophistication, elegance, evil, mourning, mystery
  • White: cleanliness, purity, innocence, sterile, empty, plainness

Attaching emotions to colors can be an excellent way to stimulate your audience’s mind and influence them to relate to your brand or purchase your product. Remember to make people feel understood by using colors they can identify with.

Start Strong With Emotions

Knowing the emotions and ideas associated with colors is one thing. Using them in your business is another. Start your branding process by designing materials that elicit strong emotions to stimulate your audiences.

Set the mood with colors that are relevant to your business and brand. Pique your customers’ curiosity and tell a story using colors. You can persuade people to patronize your business by making them feel emotions they can understand and relate to.

Copywriting uses text to convey messages, illustrate ideas and tell stories to convince people. You can use design and colors to do the same visually. Use colors to set the mood correctly and get your desired response.

Be Consistent With Your Color Schemes

Experimenting with hues, tints and shades can help you grab your audience’s attention. It’s an excellent way to create a color scheme that fits your business and resonates with your intended audience.

After you’ve found the palette that works best for you, stick with it. People like familiarity and will associate better with brands they know. Research has shown that 78% of consumers can recognize a company by looking at its colors.

Keeping your design colors consistent will help you improve your brand recognition. Knowing when to experiment and when to stick to your brand colors can determine your design’s success.

Test Your Colors on Your Audience

Testing will help you see which colors work best for your brand. Try testing different color schemes and see how your audience reacts and engages with your choices. Doing this will help you see precisely the effect of your color schemes.

Surveys can also be beneficial if you want to understand your target audience better. You’ll get a good grasp of what they think about your brand, product or service by directly asking them for feedback.

Experiment with colors and match them to their uses. Study the data and use different colors for your buttons, banners and other promotional material. Consider your user’s journey and preferences as a test for future design decisions. 

Choose a Color That Sets You Apart

Businesses sometimes choose colors based on their industry. Food companies typically use yellow, green and red since those are naturally occurring pigments in food. Since their business depends on people’s appetites, they choose colors likelier to make people hungry and associate their brand with delicious and filling products.

You can go the other way around and use unique colors to make your business stand out. Choose a unique color scheme that stands for your brand’s values. Special colors can increase a brand’s recognition by 80% and leave a lasting impression on consumers. The right color will make your brand more visible in a market saturated with the same colors.

Stick to Colors That Best Suit Your Brand

Picking a color appropriate for your product will help you leverage colors. While being unique has advantages, remember that specific colors have their intended uses and limitations. Your color choices will reflect your brand and impact how people perceive your business.

Imagine asking your customers to trust a product with a color that goes against its standard function, like a black safety vest or a pink hammer. They’re unique color choices, but your users may find it challenging to see the connection.

Colors and Brand Recognition: A Do or Dye Game

Your business colors say a lot about your brand values and design tastes. Your brand’s recognition ultimately falls on your design choices. Understand which colors and emotions your audience resonates with and you’ll find the color scheme that best suits your business.

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About The Author

Cooper Adwin is the Assistant Editor of Designerly Magazine. With several years of experience as a social media manager for a design company, Cooper particularly enjoys focusing on social and design news and topics that help brands create a seamless social media presence. Outside of Designerly, you can find Cooper playing D&D with friends or curled up with his cat and a good book.

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