Brand Colors 101: Color Psychology
Color psychology & why the colors you choose matter
Brand Colors 101: Color Psychology
Do you think that your logo is the most visible brand element? It isn’t. It’s your colors.
Brand colors are critical 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 your core audience and what they are most likely to be attracted to.
Colors are incredibly powerful. They send psychological messaging that people feel before they ever read your content. Think about how we react to colors in food. Green in dairy makes us assume it’s moldy, whereas black in a vegetable means it’s rotten. The same is true for how we see the clothes that people wear. Judges wear black robes, not yellow ones. Police wear brown or blue. Doctors wear white jackets.
In branding, 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, but white is a color of mourning in Asia. We say we’re green with envy in England and the United States, but in Germany, it’s yellow. Not only in geographic cultures but within different audience segments. Black can give a luxury audience a feeling of exclusivity or mystery (Chanel). It can impart a sense of rebellion to those who have an inner need to break free (Harley Davison). When using a clean black and white color palette, black gives a sense of clarity (Apple).
what do you want to communicate?
If you already know your archetype, you have a good start with the message you want to convey. If you haven’t, I recommend you take it and then return.
Here are five general ways people are likely to read the colors you choose. What is it that you want to convey? Each has different connotations, too. Sincerity, for example, can come across as honest but can be cheerful, too.
Do you want people to see you as sincere and responsible, or are you more rugged and tenacious?
It shouldn’t only be one. You can be imaginative and upscale, efficient, and have a spine. Pair it up based on your archetype, your business, and what you want your audience to feel.
Ok, on to colors and their meanings.
domestic, honest, genuine, cheerful
daring, spirited, rebellious, imaginative
reliable, responsible, efficient
glamorous, upscale, charming, romantic
tenacity, ruggedness, toughness, spine
Intro to Color Theory
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. 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. Knowing your archetype makes it much easier to find the colors that fit your brand and your people. It’s a bit like paint by number, but with much 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, and growth. It also indicates health, nature, and relaxation.
Green is thought to be the most calming color for the human eye. This is why environmental, health, and food companies use it so often.
Grassy greens indicate nature, deeper greens are calming and more serious, and brighter greens 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 its use, it can also be mysterious, intuitive, or virtuous.
Deeper shades are more mysterious or regal, and light shades are more virtuous.
pink & red
Pink is a lighthearted color related to happiness, hope, sensuality, calmness, and youth. It’s very calming, and it also stimulates positive energy.
Hot pinks are lighthearted, soft pinks are calm, and deep pinks are sensual.
Red is the color of passion, fire, power, and courage.
It’s related to danger, power, blood, strength, war, and energy, but it 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 & yellow
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 shows vitality, creativity, and joy. 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 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, black changes by how it is used. It’s different with one color vs. another, and how much of the overall style is black. 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, 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 using it correctly can represent the future and opportunities. This color is often used in fonts that need to create a balance between other colors. Apple is a well-known brand 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 in their branding promote reassurance in their message.
Choosing brand colors doesn’t have to be complicated. Embrace your archetype. Know who your people are and the message you want to send. Brand accordingly.