Are Your Brand Colors Sending The Right Message?

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Branding Series

Visual cues are an integral part of a brand’s identity. A brand’s logo, color palette, and font choices all work together to communicate the brand’s ethos to the consumer. Using color to convey a message is a tactic as old as time. From birds of paradise to hornets, creatures great and small (humans included!) use color to attract, ward off, and even trap others. Whether or not you know it, you’ve probably already assigned certain emotions to colors. Yellow may be joyous; green may evoke thoughts of growth and renewal.

Some colors instinctively tie to our emotions, but cultural context is equally important, especially when considering colors for a brand. There are fantastic online resources that give in-depth analyses of the emotions tied to each color of the spectrum, but right now, we’re going to focus on the four most commonly used brand colors. Read on to determine if your brand colors are sending the right message!

Quick disclaimer: the following information is based on the basic principles of color theory, but depending on personal or cultural preferences, it may not all be applicable.

Red is a prevalent brand color because it can stimulate appetite and express powerful emotions like fearlessness or passion. Sportswear brands like New Balance and Puma use red to convey strength and energy, whereas food chains like McDonald’s, Denny’s, and Chick-fil-A use red’s hunger-inducing properties to their advantage. What messaging do you think CNN and Beats by Dr. Dre are conveying?

Positive Associations: Passion, Strength, Energy, Hunger, Fearlessness

Negative Associations: Aggression, Danger, Warning

A bold black logo instantly establishes an air of luxury and power. Many fashion houses like Chanel and Balenciaga use black for its sophistication, while Apple uses it to establish itself as the premier authority on tech. WWF’s Panda may appear at first to be the only inspiration behind their use of black, but the color black’s ability to convey power and timelessness also expresses WWF’s mission to conserve nature.

Positive Associations: Timeless, Sophisticated, Authority

Negative Associations: Menacing, Heaviness, Mourning

A serene blue tends to evoke feelings of security and calm. Brands like Oral B, Intel, and Lowe’s all benefit from this color as it reinforces that each brand is knowledgeable and trustworthy in its field. Blue is highly utilized for brands in healthcare, finance, tech, and other specialized industries.

Positive Associations: Loyalty, Logic, Serenity, Trust

Negative Associations: Coldness, Unappetizing

Believe it or not, yellow is an incredibly versatile logo color. It evokes many emotions and can be found in logos from restaurants to luxury cars to office supplies. While brands like Post-It and Nikon capture yellow’s ability to convey creativity and joy, National Geographic leans into yellow’s connection to intellect. On the flip side, neon yellow has been used in Toxic Waste warnings and other signage for decades. Yellow is an attention-grabbing color that never fails to turn heads.

Positive Associations: Joy, Creativity, Optimism, Intellect, Hunger

Negative Associations: Danger, Toxic, Anxiety

Read other posts in this series<< 3 Questions to Ask Yourself When Starting Your BusinessHow To Choose The Best Name For Your Business >>
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