Why Color Theory Matters for Brand Success

When was the last time a black and white ad caught your attention? Can you remember? Neither can we. Even the Chase Sapphire commercials have a pop of blue in them, and this gets to the core of what good marketing design can do: capture your audience’s attention using brand identity and color theory.

With all the noise surrounding brand-to-audience channels, marketers must strategically capture attention through every design tool they can think of. Expressing your brand message is more complex than you think and can’t be done without a full tool belt – from layout to typology, texture, and color theory.

As we break down the anatomy of a good brand, let’s delve into the fundamentals of visual branding – something you’ll need to any successful social media campaign, since digital marketing is primarily visual.

Color theory: what it means for your brand and how to use it with impact

Color theory in marketing utilizes the psychology of colors and its corresponding emotions to evoke a certain response from the audience. Different colors suggest different emotions, social classes, audiences, and messages, so it’s imperative that your color scheme both reflects and enhances your brand messaging. Chase wouldn’t be Chase without its sapphire logo, and Summit Collaborations would be something entirely different without its gold and navy blue. So, what colors suit you? Let’s dive a bit deeper.

The basics: color wheel

color wheel

  • Three primary colors: Red, yellow, and blue
    • The rest of the other colors are made from primary colors.
  • Three secondary colors: Orange, green, and violet
    • These colors are each made from a combination of primary colors.
  • Six tertiary colors: Red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, and red-violet
    • These colors are the result of mixing primary and secondary colors.

When building a color palette, you can explore analogous, complementary, and triadic colors. Analogous colors are any three side-by-side colors, one predominating the others. Complementary colors consist of any two colors directly across each other, creating a contrasting effect, while triadic colors are three colors equally spaced around the wheel.

The use of these color wheel formulas achieves color harmony, which is when the viewer thinks the colors work naturally with each other. Color harmony isn’t marked so much by the audience’s appreciation – it’s more like the audience doesn’t see anything wrong, but this allows your brand to have more credibility and utilize the psychological power of colors.

Color association in branding

Color invokes human emotions. You don’t find the color red calming, do you? And the color blue probably doesn’t make you angry. That’s because we associate different colors with different emotions – it’s a psychological fact partially built by evolution, and partially constructed by modern color usage. It’s important to build your branding through colors that represent the emotions you want to convey.

Meaning of color associationimage of the psychology of colors

  • Natural association: These are colors naturally present in our surroundings. Green, aqua, and the shades of flower and sky are all “natural,” and they invoke feelings of calmness, healing, renewal, and balance.
  • Psychological/Cultural association: These are colors attached to one’s cultural upbringing and other developments factored in. We associate purples and gold as royal, higher class colors, because royals often wore them in ancient times – these colors were much more expensive to produce and wear, and their “luxury” has endured in modern branding.
  • Evolutionary association: some colors evoke responses that are built in our genes. Red, for example, is a color of passion, anger, and intensity – most likely as a reaction to blood. Yellow is a color of alertness, probably because of the sun. Even if you’ve never seen blood or the sun before, you’ll probably have these reactions to those colors.

As color theory implies, red and yellow can create an increase in heart rate and hunger, psychologically making you feel hungry. Does that ring a bell? Major fast-food chains such as McDonald’s and Wendy’s apply this theory. By contrast, brands in blue – namely those in the technology industry like Facebook, Windows, and PayPal – exude a sense of trust and intelligence as the color suggests.

color theory in branding from canva

Color theory in branding photo courtesy of Canva

Color and brand impact

92 percent of consumers are persuaded by visual marketing and around 85 percent of consumers respond to color, making this design element one of the biggest motivators in selecting a product. While color selection is key, it’s also vital to identify other factors that complete your brand identity – namely, the other design elements we’ve mentioned, as well as great messaging.

When selecting a color palette, consider the following:

  •  The focus and goal of your product/service
  • Audience demographic
  • Voice used in communicating

Proper application and coordination of your brand’s color palette across    marketing and product platforms increase brand recognition. In the long run, as it grows in consistency and cohesiveness, your color palette can engender a new sense of desired brand loyalty.

The building blocks of branding such as this one can be intimidating to go through alone. We’re always here to help take action on your goals! Contact us today and let’s start building your brand.