The Psychology of Colors in Branding

warm yellow and orange brand colors in image of hiker jumping over rock

The key to branding is to form an emotional connection with consumers and color psychology is essential to accomplishing that. The psychology of colors focuses on how different colors impact human emotions and actions. When it comes to branding, color psychology is about picking the right colors to channel emotions from your target audience that you lead to brand support. 

In this article, I’ll cover what brand color psychology is, why it’s important, what different colors mean, and how to select colors for your brand. Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about the psychology of colors in branding!

What Is Brand Color Psychology?

Brand color psychology is the study of how colors impact the consumer’s perception of – and emotional connection to – a brand. Colors have different psychological impacts that can influence or alter an individual’s emotions.

Branding is a subsection of color psychology, which is the general study of how colors impact the way humans perceive the world and affect their emotions. Colors also affect the behavior of humans.

A business typically uses color psychology when building a brand from scratch, or rebranding an existing organization. Colors are a component of a brand’s identity and leveraging psychology helps pinpoint the right colors to channel the emotions you want consumers to feel when they think about your company. 

rocky coastline with blue and white color

Why Is It Important To Use Color Psychology When Marketing Your Brand?

Color is one of the most powerful tools in your brand’s arsenal and can positively impact your success in marketing your business. Nearly 85% of consumers identify color as a primary reason for choosing one brand over another. 

It’s not just about flashy colors. A sound understanding of color psychology helps your business connect to the right audience. If you want a warm, soothing brand personality, it’s probably not a great choice to have neon green and fluorescent pink as your colors. 

A few other reasons why it’s important to use color psychology in your visual marketing include: 

  • Form emotional connections with consumers: As I mentioned before, colors tap into emotions that lead consumers to connect with a brand. By strategically utilizing color schemes, you bring out specific emotions that can lead to a purchase, or brand loyalty. 
  • Create a positive perception of your brand: Colors alone can impact how consumers perceive your brand. If your brand colors are black and white, you’ll appear negative compared to a brand with more vibrant colors. 
  • Improve your brand recognition: Specific colors inherently portray messages. The right use of color can implant your brand’s image and message into the mind of consumers subconsciously. 
  • Build your reputation: Your logo and the colors in it are associated with products and/or services that you offer. Using the right colors to match your offerings, you’ll build trust and reliability with your target audience. 
  • Stand out in the market: Finding colors that fit your brand but aren’t already in use gives you an advantage and helps to stand out in the vast field of competitors. 
  • Help your marketing team: Color psychology helps your team develop an organizational brand and marketing content that effectively engages consumers in your target audience. 

stones with water washing up on them

Color Psychology: What Do Different Colors Mean?

Okay, so you understand the importance of using psychology to select your brand colors. But where do you start? In order to pick the most appropriate colors for your business, you have to understand what different colors mean and the emotions that they influence.

In the following sections, I’ll break down a general overview of the different positive and negative associations with the major colors in the spectrum.


Let’s start off with one of the world’s favorite colors – blue. Approximately one-third of brands (33%) use blue as their primary color.

That’s because blue is associated with a list of positive feelings that center around:

  • Trust
  • Security
  • Dependability
  • Strength
  • Serenity
  • Clarity
  • Loyalty
  • Communication 

These are all traits of a reliable, trustworthy brand. For that reason, brands in social media, finance, insurance, and other industries which rely on consumers’ trust often have blue as a primary color. Think about Facebook and LinkedIn. 

cold blue brand colors in rain drop covered window

There are negative traits associated with blue, including: 

  • Coldness
  • Unfriendliness 
  • Aloofness
  • Emotionless
  • Uncaring 
  • Unappetizing 

The same brands utilizing blue for trust and security have to avoid channeling any of the negative traits associated with the color. 

Blue can also help brands appear non-threatening, conservative, and traditional.


Looking for a powerful surge of emotion out of your support base? Red is the color for the job. It’s the most emotionally charged color – creating a sense of urgency and reducing analytical thinking. In doing so, it speeds up and intensifies reactions.

Think about clearance sales and CTA buttons to complete an order – what color are they usually highlighted in? Red.

There are softer shades of red that make it appear less aggressive, but these are a few of the positive traits that the color is associated with: 

  • Power 
  • Excitement 
  • Energy 
  • Fearlessness
  • Passion 
  • Strength 

On the flip side, some negative traits of red include: 

  • Anger 
  • Warnings 
  • Danger 
  • Defiance 
  • Aggression 
  • Pain


Meeting at the intersection of hot and cold (red and blue), Purple is the ultimate balance of masculine and feminine that’s both warm and cool yet neither all at once. Impressive! The Roman Empire used to have high-ranking officials wear purple  – an ancient association that resonates in human subconsciousness to this day.

Purple is the shortest wavelength on the color spectrum and the last to be visible. For that reason, people tend to associate it with time, space, and the cosmos. It’s also one of the rarest colors in nature and can come across in one of two ways: special or artificial. 

Some common traits associated with purple include: 

  • Royalty 
  • Superiority 
  • Wisdom 
  • Wealth
  • Sophistication 
  • Bravery 
  • Luxury 
  • Spirituality 
  • Imaginative 

While it serves as the middle man of color psychology, Purple has several negative traits that it’s associated with, including: 

  • Decadence
  • Moodiness
  • Excess 
  • Introversion
  • Suppression
  • Inferiority 
  • Extravagance 

Different shades of purple have different impacts on human emotion. Lighter shades of purple give off a romantic aura while darker shades can symbolize sadness and frustration. Very few companies use purple as their primary color, but those that do stand out. Most companies use it as an accent or in moderation.  


What color comes to mind when you think of life and nature? Green! The color of grass, trees, bushes, and all things natural, green is the color of balance – sitting directly in the middle of the color spectrum. 

Green is the easiest color for human eyes because it doesn’t require any adjustments when it hits the retina. In fact, it can even improve vision! That’s why it’s used in night vision because our eyes discern most shades of green. 

A safe world that’s lush, full of water, and life-giving, green is often associated with the following traits: 

  • Relaxation
  • Health
  • Prosperity 
  • Hope 
  • Freshness
  • Calming
  • Restful 
  • Pleasing
  • Nature 
  • Growth 

overhead of man mowing lawn with green lawn mower

As with all colors, there are negative traits associated with green including: 

  • Boredom
  • Stagnation
  • Blandness
  • Envy 
  • Enervation 
  • Sickness 


Think about the things that made you happy as a child. Sunflowers, smiley faces, rubber ducks – they’re all yellow. It’s a cheerful hue that can represent youthfulness and joy. It can serve the opposite purpose though, with fear and anxiety-inducing qualities like police tape and traffic lights. 

Yellow is a tough color to process visually, though it is a long wavelength and the most visible color in the spectrum. That’s what makes it attention-grabbing and stimulating. 

Some positive traits associated with yellow include: 

  • Optimism 
  • Creativity 
  • Extraversion
  • Warmth 
  • Happiness
  • Intellect 

The negative traits that I mentioned earlier include: 

  • Fear 
  • Irrationality 
  • Anxiety
  • Caution 
  • Frustration 
  • Cowardice 


What do Nickolodeon, Sunny D, and Reese’s have in common? They’re all comforting and have orange as a primary brand color. Orange is a versatile color, often associated with the sun as warm, but also stimulating and comforting. 

Orange draws attention and consumers often associate it with value. Depending on the time of the year, it can be used for Halloween – especially when paired with black. 

Positive traits that are often associated with orange include: 

  • Confidence 
  • Creativity 
  • Courage 
  • Warmth 
  • Innovation 
  • Friendliness 
  • Energy 

power lines with bright orange sun in background

Negative associations with orange can include: 

  • Frustration 
  • Deprivation 
  • Sluggishness
  • Immaturity 
  • Ignorance 
  • Frivolity


As I move away from the more vibrant core colors, I want to mention magenta. Flirting the line with pink, magenta can represent femininity, youthfulness, imagination, and quirkiness.

The emotional impact of pink wanes on consumers – the longer you’re exposed to it the less positive impact. It’s a representation of emotional balance and physical harmony – sophisticated yet pragmatic, and evocative of logic and perspicacity. 

Positive traits associated with pink include: 

  • Imaginative
  • Passion 
  • Transformation
  • Creativity 
  • Innovation 
  • Balance 

The negative associations with pink include: 

  • Outrageousness
  • Nonconformity 
  • Flippancy 
  • Impulsiveness 
  • Eccentricity 
  • Ephemeralness 


Black is a total absorption of all colors – a barrier color that absorbs energy and attention. For that reason, it can be a symbol of power. Black is timeless and effortlessly stylish, but can have traces of ominous feelings.

While there are a range of emotions that black can channel, some of the more common positive traits are: 

  • Sophistication
  • Power 
  • Elegance 
  • Luxury 
  • Security 
  • Authority 
  • Substance 

Black is a color that can bring forth dark, negative associations including:

  • Death 
  • Mourning 
  • Oppression 
  • Coldness
  • Menace 
  • Heaviness 
  • Evil 


The antithesis of black, white is a color that highlights the reflection and absence of all color. It’s a pure, clean, sterile, simplistic color – though when not paired with another color, it can be boring. 

The positive traits associated with white can include; 

  • Cleanliness 
  • Clarity 
  • Purity 
  • Simplicity 
  • Sophistication 
  • Freshness

On the negative end, white can channel the following associations: 

  • Sterility 
  • Coldness
  • Unfriendliness 
  • Elitism 
  • Isolation
  • Emptiness


The final color I’ll touch on is gray. You might think of grey as a bland color on the backdrop of an outdated headshot, but there are redeeming qualities.

Though it has no dominant association, gray is a modern and sophisticated color. Gray affects the colors around it – balancing tones and establishing negative space. 

Some of the more positive traits associated with gray include: 

  • Timelessness
  • Neutrality 
  • Reliability 
  • Balance 
  • Intelligence 
  • Strength

Negative associations with gray include: 

  • Lack of confidence 
  • Dampness
  • Depression 
  • Hibernation 
  • Lack of energy 
  • Blandness

What Does Color Represent In Branding?

Even though I’ve covered the importance of utilizing color psychology and a general understanding of how different colors make us feel, I want to talk about what colors represent specifically as it relates to your brand.

Your brand’s colors represent the emotions we discussed in the previous section, and creating a unique color combination helps establish a memorable brand identity that’s aligned with the emotions you want your target audience to feel.

What do you want your target audience to feel? That’s a question to ask yourself when determining what colors to use for your brand. There are a number of factors that affect how a color makes a person feel, including personal experiences, preferences, upbringing, cultural differences, and context. 

Take all of these into account when selecting your brand colors. Does your target audience have a shared factor like similar preferences or personal experiences? 

female employee working on aircraft

How To Pick Branding Colors For Your Business

Now that you have a clear understanding of the why surrounding color psychology, I’m going to give you a few tips to follow when selecting your brand colors. These colors inform the type of logo you’ll choose, the design behind your brand’s unique aesthetic, and your overall brand experience.

Pick Colors That Are Appropriate For Your Brand

This one sounds simple but without knowledge of what emotions you want to channel and which colors accomplish that feeling, you’re likely to miss the mark. 

When selecting colors, consider the industry you’re in, your brand personality, and what you want people to think of your organization. For example, if you’re in the pharmaceutical industry you might avoid selecting purple – that doesn’t instill trust and security in your consumers.

couple standing in front of vehicle looking out at lake and mountains

Choose Colors That Embody Your Brand Personality

Your colors should match your brand’s personality. Think about your brand as a person – which combination of colors best represents your personality and the emotional levels on which you hope to connect with your support base? 

If you’re an exciting, creative up-and-coming company it would be wise to select a brighter color like yellow or orange. Nobody feels youthful and excited at the combination of black and gray. 

Find Colors That Appeal To Your Target Audience

The number one goal of color psychology is to target a specific audience and form an emotional connection. In order to maximize your brand colors, you have to take the information about the emotional associations for each color and match them with your target demographics. 

Ask yourself – what are the core emotional traits of my target audience? Once you determine a list of 5-10 core emotional tendencies, try to find the two or three colors that best exemplify those emotions.

teal blue and orange brand colors in landscape of snow capped mountains

Differentiate Your Brand From Competitors

If you’re in an industry where competitors all have similar colors, you should try to select a color palette that isn’t already in use by the competition. Not only does this help you create a unique brand that’s tailored to your target market, but it also helps you stand out in the market as a whole.

Be Consistent With Brand Colors

As with everything branding-related, the most important component of brand color psychology is consistent application. Every component of your brand should use similar colors along the palette you’ve selected. 

If you’re an established brand, you likely have a brand style guide that all employees are to follow. If not, creating a guide can help with ensuring that all brand communications look uniform. 

One way to remain on-brand in your visual marketing is through a professional business photoshoot. Pairing with an experienced corporate photographer who understands branding, you’ll be equipped with an asset library to use across your website, print and online advertisements, and more.

yellow orange and green brand colors in image of long haired individual

Leverage Brand Color Psychology In Your Commercial Photography With Casey Templeton

I hope this blog helped you gain a better understanding of color psychology and how it relates to corporate branding. If you’re a new company looking to establish a brand, understanding color psychology is essential.

Casey Templeton is a professional corporate photographer with branding experience across various industries and with businesses of all sizes. If you’re looking to enhance your advertising arsenal with a diverse library of branded images, Casey Templeton Photography can help. Fill out a contact form to get the conversation started. 

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