Brand Colors 101: Color Psychology
The colors you choose for your brand matter
Do you think that your logo is the most visible brand element? It isn’t. It’s your colors. Brand colors are a critical element in every brand because our brains remember color before symbols, with words being last. Keep your archetype in mind when choosing a color palette for your real estate brand. You want to evoke the right emotions based on who your core audience is and what they are most likely to be attracted to.
Brand Colors are incredibly powerful. They send psychological messaging that people feel before they ever read your content. Each color can communicate a positive or negative emotion to your potential customers. Red can evoke feelings of boldness, danger, or anger, but it can also be seductive, energetic, provocative, passionate, or tenacious.
Colors are cultural, too. In the US, brides wear white. In Asia, white is a color of mourning. Not only geographic cultures, but within different audience segments. Black can give a feeling of exclusivity or mystery to a luxury audience (Chanel). It can impart a feeling of rebellion to those who have an inner need to break free (Harley Davison). When used a clean black and white color palette, black give a sense of clarity (Apple).
This is the part that you’re probably not going to like. Yes, you do have to use brand colors if your company requires it. Brand compliance is important, not just because it’s probably in your Independent Contractor Agreement. but because a strong collective brand helps everyone in the company, including you.
If you have already taken the quiz, here are the five ways that customers are most likely to react to your brand identity. If you haven’t, go take it, then come back.
Take a minute to think through the possibile ways that people are likely to reach to your brand and choose a few that best fit the message that you want your brand to convey. Then we’ll talk about colors.
Do you want people to see you as sincere and responsible?
Maybe upscale and glamorous is more your style?
Tenacious and rebellious, anyone?
Intro to Color Theory
Now we have that down, it’s time to bring out the theory of color and find out which colors are the best for your branding.
Humans receive different messages from colors. Each color sends a message, but how they are used creates the total message. Colors in harmony vs high contrast, deep rich shades vs light faded colors, and the balance of light vs dark. Different colors and mixtures of colors can get different interpretations from different people.
Sound daunting? Not if you already know your brand archetype. When you know what archetype you are, it’s much easier to find the colors that fit your brand and your people. It’s a little bit like paint by number, but with a lot more creative latitude.
colors and the emotions that the evoke
Colors evoke emotions and drive perceptions. Stimulant pills are often red or orange. Jail walls are often green. Street lights often have a slight blue tint. Read on and you’ll see why.
Green is associated with awakening, change, newness, growth. It also indicates health, nature, and relaxation.
Green is thought to be the most calming color to the human eye. This is why it’s used so often by environmental, health, and food companies.
Grassy greens indicate nature, deeper greens are calming and more serious, and brighter green evoke a feeling of newness.
Blue indicates trust, discovery, purity, balance, loyalty, and understanding.
Light blue leans into peace, purity, and serenity. Darker blues show confidence, trustworthy authority, or tradition.
Have you noticed that most banks use blue? Water related businesses use lighter blues? Now you know why.
Purple is strongly associated with luxury, nobility, and royalty.
Depending on how it’s used it can also be mysterious, intuitive, or virtuous.
Deeper shades are more mysterious or regal, light shades are more virtuous.
Pink is a lighthearted color related to happiness, hope, sensuality, calmness, and youth. It’s very calming while it also stimulates positive energy.
Hot pinks are lighthearted, soft pinks are calm, deep pinks are sensual.
Red is the color of passion, fire, power, and courage.
It’s related to danger, power, blood, strength, war, energy, but also is associated with love and desire.
Did you know that red triggers the pituitary gland? It can measurably increase our heart rate causing a visceral and physical response. It’s no wonder that it’s the color of love and courage.
Orange is a happy or combination of yellow and red. It creates a feeling of emotional connection. It is most often used to create a sense of happiness, creativity, attraction, enthusiasm, and determination. Bright orange show exuberance, creativity, and happiness. Mid-tones show affordability, and softer shades show efficiency.
It makes perfect sense that Etsy uses bold orange. It’s creative, happy, and connective.
Yellow. It’s joyful, sunny, and energetic. It also indicates clarity, possibility, and intellect. It’s an attention-getter, so much so that some studies have shown that it literally stimulates mental activity and can generate muscle energy.
Because it’s one of the colors that our eyes process first, it’s also used for warnings (think road signs). Bright bold yellows trigger feelings of energy and innovation. Mid-tones show possibility and clarity. Lighter and softer shades are welcoming.
Black can represent exclusivity, luxury, and power. It can also be mysterious, rebellious, and bold. Unlike other colors, where the intensity of the color changes the meaning, with black is how it is used in balance with other colors. On its own, it is the absorption of all color and the absence of light. When used with pure white it is modern, with bold colors, it’s strong, with mid-tones or softer hues, it shows balance.
White is the cleanest color. Most color palettes use white to give some clear space for the other colors. You’ll also see this with almost whites, very very light shades of greys. White is clean, pure, open, and calm. It shows humility, cleanliness, minimalism, and elegance. White space, or areas without any other element or text, is used in design layouts to give breathing room. It allows other colors and elements to stand on their own.
Grey is associated with balance. Grey can also express sadness, but if you use it correctly, it can express future and opportunities. This color is often used in fonts that need to create a balance between other colors. Apple is a brand that is well-known for using grey on its campaigns and products.
Brown can provide a sense of comfort and reassurance. It is heavily related to the roots, grounds, and belonging. Everyone trusts this color. The companies that use it on their branding promote reassurance in their message.