The psychology of color in branding

Posted by | Color in Branding | 2 Comments on The psychology of color in branding

Often faced a situation where my clients ask for a specific color to use in their logo.

My answer points them to understand the criteria of picking the right color according to the psychology of color in branding. In marketing, advertising, branding every color has a different meaning and communicates different messages. As a designer my aim is to solve a problem and find a solution that must work. Color emotionally influence your consumers. In this article I want to resume the meaning of the most used color. You can also find more, about this interesting topic, in numerous educational YouTube videos provided by companies like The Marketing Heaven.

Simple And Logical – Design Studio – Pantone and CMYK colors

CMYK Color

If you remember learning about primary colors in grade school, you have a good start for understanding how CMYK works. CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (the “k” comes from the word “key,” a printing term). You can mix these four colors to get an array of secondary and tertiary colors like violet, orange, and just about every color from your kindergarten crayon box.However, the one pitfall of CMYK is that different brands of ink tend to have color palettes that vary from each other. If you’re using different printers for your branded materials, your colors may not be 100% consistent.

Pantone (PMS) Color

Unlike CMYK, Pantone uses a standardized color reproduction system referred to as the PMS color process (Pantone Matching System). Each Pantone color, or “spot color”, has a unique identification number.

This system allows you to take your Pantone color to any printer on the planet and have your project come out with exactly-matching hues. And if you’re a brand that relies heavily on a very specific color (think “Home Depot Orange,” “Coca-Cola Red”, or “Barbie Pink”), you can see why Pantone would be invaluable.

The only down side to the PMS system is that your options are slightly more limited than CMYK. Because Pantone has a predetermined set of colors, you’ll have to work within their system. In other words, you can’t create any color and translate it flawlessly to Pantone.Instead, your color-picking process is more like when you visit the paint section at the hardware store. You select from a range of shades available to you, and an employee mixes that exact shade for you to take home.

RGB Color

As we mentioned up top, RGB uses three colors (red, green, and blue) in different combinations to create every color of the rainbow. On computers, TVs, and mobile devices there are small dots of light in your screen that emit different amounts of red, green, and blue. Your eyes interpret these mixtures as different individual colors. RGB uses a subtractive color mixing process to create all colors, where RGB together makes white and the absence of red, green, and blue makes black.


color is passion, romanticism, love. Yes, correct, but can also stand for speed, aggression, power, danger, warning. Red has to be used carefully for branding purpose. Can evoke both positive and negative messages. For example Grammatical mistakes are marked in red, stop signboards, finance debts are just few example of the negativity of this color. Red is a color that tends to increase the appetite (see brands like McDonalds, Coca Cola and KFC) and intensifies the reactions and emotions.


A warm color that represents optimism, happiness and creativity. It is the color of the sun, which brings light. A bright color that is often used by companies dealing with children products. I remember some Disney movies’ logos such Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Hercules,… Even yellow has some negativity features. B can represent even fear, caution and frustration.


Mix of yellow and red. Unlike them, orange color is used to take attention. The first example I can mention is the traffic light which warns you to slow down. It communicates warmth, fun, confidence, energy, it stimulates motivation and enthusiasm. It is also applied in food industry (see Fanta).


A color which immediately reminds you the nature. It represents and communicates peaceful, calm, health, creativity, balance, growth, freshness and prosperity. Green color can be considered mainly positive. Very used in eco-friendly products and brands. It is also used in the night vision because our eyes can discern more shades of it.


This is the mix of red and blue color. Is the one which connects the feeling of spirituality, magic, meditation, royalty, mystery. Purple is a color that can be both cold and warm. Considered cold when it tends to be on blue shade, and considered warm when tends to be on red shade. Also associated with luxury and wealth. Yahoo, Milka and BenQ logos are colored in violet/purple.


Firstly associated as a feminine color. Harmony, love, caring and  romanticism are some more attributes represented with pink color. A color that brings positive feelings, and can be youthful at the same time.


A mixture of red, yellow and black. Brown is the color of the hearth. Can be seen everywhere in nature, therefore can well represent it. Due to a big percentage of black present in the color, can also communicate seriousness, but in warmer way. Often used for natural products representation, as wood and leather.


First of all, grey color is a mixture of white and black. It is a neutral and timeless color that can be applied for different purposes. Grey is modern color and evokes balance, intelligence and strength. Grey can be lighter or darker, there are many shades of it. It can be also associated with many other color.


Symbol of purity and innocence. White is the opposite of black and it reflects everything. Simplicity, minimalism, cleanliness, isolation and freshness are the main significant attributions. Often used with black and other strong color to create visual contrast.


By understanding the psychology of color in branding you can assume the importance of selecting the right one. Is not only about aesthetic but is more about functionality. Your brand talks, communicates, shares, inspires, and color are one of the main source to do it well. Check also my article where I explain the process of designing a logo, from start to end. Choice and application of color in a logo is part of the design thinking. As the italian designer Massimo Vignelli was saying: “If you do it right, it will last forever”.

And in the end

Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy.What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.Simple And Logical™


Paul Graham says:

May 19, 2021 at 12:30 am

The psychology of colour is indeed complex. I have studied it in some depth in a previous career and would just add a couple of qualifiers. 1/ Context and shade are both important. The colours women are not supposed to like are frequently used in various shades for interior decor. 2/ Other studies have shown there to be cultural impacts on preferences 3/ With the exception of yellows for happiness and red to stimulate action or hunger, there appears to be a cycle of colour preference in merchandising as well as in fashion. I concur with all of the advice provided so long as one bears in mind that the specifics are fluid and its important to remain current. Thanks for a very good post on a topic seldom covered !


simpleandlogical says:

May 19, 2021 at 10:46 pm

Hi Paul. Thanks so much for the comment. I completely agree. The specifics need to remain fluid and current. There is also a vast disparity between online and offline interaction and how your brain processes different elements. What may cause friction online may be completely irrelevant offline and vice versa. And yes, cultural impacts wreak havoc on conversion optimization processes and obliterate any notion of “best practices”(a word we hate to use in conversion optimization). Thanks for the in-depth comments. I appreciate it.


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