• Arun Gopidas

How you can use color psychology to build a better brand!

Have you ever walked by KFC at an airport and felt hungry? You are probably not alone.

In fact I was a regular customer at KFC each time I went to the airport, regardless of what time it was. Naturally, I've eaten at KFC at 4 in the morning!


I started analysing my odd behaviour and ended up in a rabbit hole of color psychology. The usage of red in their interiors & packaging isn't just an aesthetic choice. The color red activates your appetite & evokes hunger pangs! The red you see is a carefully designed experience that urges you to eat more.



On the other hand, it's not a co-incidence that most restaurants don't use the color blue. Blue in contrast reduces your appetite! So, if you are running a restaurant you should probably stay away from blues. But if you are trying to lose weight, eating out of a blue plate might just be helpful!


Sounds interesting? Want to know how you can use color to subconsciously enhance opinions about your brand?


If yes, then you are in the right place!


In this article you'll get to know

  • what different colors convey

  • what to avoid for different colours

  • and what colors famous brands use

So let's get started!





1. Yellow


What yellow conveys:

Yellow is frequently associated with high enthusiasm, intellect, confidence & optimism. Yellow is one of those colors which can quickly grab attention & can be used to highlight important details.


What to avoid with yellow:

One needs to be vary about the usage of yellow text, as it can often become illegible on white backgrounds.


Famous brands using yellow in their identity design:

Snapchat, IMDb, McDonalds & Post-it.

Snapchat, IMDB, McDonalds, Post-it



2. RED


What red conveys:

Red is one of the most visible colors on the spectrum. It’s used to denote power, passion & action. Exposure to red can cause energy levels to spike. It also elevates feelings of hunger, which is good to use if you are a food brand.


What to avoid with red:

Usage of too much red can be overwhelming as it is often associated with danger & warnings.


Famous brands using red in their identity design:

Netflix, Adobe, Marvel & Youtube.



3. ORANGE


What orange conveys:

Orange is the color frequently associated with spirituality, creativity, enthusiasm & adventure.

Orange can be used to foster encouragement & motivation.


What to avoid with orange:

You might want to avoid orange if your brand operates in Egypt as it's associated with mourning there.


Famous brands using orange in their identity design:

Dunkin', JBL, KTM & SoundCloud.



4. GREEN


What green conveys:

Green has soothing & calming effects helping you relax. It radiates compassion & promotes a love for nature. Green is also helpful in conveying feelings of royalty & elegance.


What to avoid with green:

Be careful while pairing greens with reds, blues, browns, greys and blacks as they are hard to differentiate for a colorblind consumer.


Famous brands using green in their identity design:

Spotify, Starbucks, Heineken & Whatsapp.



5. Brown


What brown conveys:

Brown is a color associated with strength, reliability & warmth. It’s association with the ground helps it appear humbling & down to earth. Browns connection to leather & wood helps it appear premium.


What to avoid with brown:

Usage of brown on digital mediums can tend to appear dirty.


Famous brands using brown in their identity design:

Hersheys, m&m's & UPS.



6. BLUE


What blue conveys:

Blue is one of the most used & loved colors. It helps you feel calm, secure & peaceful. Usage of blue can help you look ambitious, aware & open to your consumers.


What to avoid with blue:

Blue can suppress your appetite, so avoid using it if you are running a food brand.


Famous brands using blue in their identity design:

Twitter, Vimeo, Cisco & AT&T.



7. NAVY BLUE


What navy blue conveys:

Navy blue is often associated with power, authority & importance. Usage of navy blue helps you appear responsible, dependable & trustworthy.


What to avoid with navy blue:

Being a dark shade, the contrast between navy blue and black is very low. Avoid using it on dark backgrounds.

Famous brands using navy blue in their identity design:

Nokia, GAP & KPMG.



8. PURPLE


What purple conveys:

Purple is associated with wealth, royalty & spiritualism. Usage of purple helps you appear luxurious, creative & visionary.


What to avoid with purple:

Due to it's royal associations, using it for a mass market low priced product might alienate your audience. Since purple is a mix of red & blue, two colors with very different values, using it in huge quantities on large surfaces could cause frustration.


Famous brands using green in their identity design:

Twitch, Hallmark & Tacobell.



9. PINK


What pink conveys:

Pink is often associated with softness, purity & affection. Usage of pinks can help you look gentle, friendly & playful.


What to avoid with pink:

Prolonged exposure to bright pinks can often cause frustration. Avoid using it in large quantities.


Famous brands using green in their identity design:

Lyft, Dribbble, Baskin Robbins & Indiegogo.



10. BLACK & WHITE


What black & white conveys:

Black & white palettes are associated with power, clarity & sophistication. Black & white can be used to appear professional & elegant in front of your consumers.


What to avoid with black & white:

It's very hard to go wrong with black & white. However, it could get tricky to consistently produce eye catching content with such a limited palette. Consider adding another color to make things easier.


Famous brands using black & white in their identity design:

The New York Times, Apple & Nike.



11. MULTI-COLOR


What multiple colors convey:

Multi-color logos are outliers. They can used to convey playfulness, vibrancy & high-spiritedness.


What to avoid with multiple colors:

Having multiple colors in your identity can become incredibly tricky & expensive to reproduce consistently.


Famous brands using multiple colors in their identity design:

Google, Slack & NBC.



And that's it for color psychology in branding.


But always remember: color psychology is only a starting point for you to form some initial opinions about how your brand could look like. Choice of colors can be impacted by cultural nuances, the competitor landscape and your personal preferences as well.


If you want to see how we've used colors for the different brands we've worked with, feel free to check out some of these case studies:


I hope this helps you form a informed opinion of how to use colors to build a better brand.


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