Color Psychology In Marketing: 10 Colors Explained

How colors are used in marketing matters. Different colors can have different connotations and this can affect the psychological impact that your brand has on consumers. By choosing the right colors, you can create the right impression on your customers. Below is a rundown of 10 different colors and the psychological impact that they can have on a brand.


Symbolizes: power, seriousness, sophistication

Used by: Jack Daniels, EA, Sony

Black is one of the most versatile colors that a brand can use. It’s the most common color used for text and is used in many situations where color printing is too expensive.

Using a lot of black in your branding will often symbolize a sense of power, seriousness and sophistication. ‘Black label’ is a term used for high quality products and using entirely black packaging will often suggest that a product is top end and expensive. This could be because black is associated with business attire. However, black can also suggest a serious coolness given that it is used by subcultures like bikers and goths.

Of course, black is also the color of death and can create an unnecessarily gloomy feel if used incorrectly. For this reason, you’ll rarely see it used to promote toys or travel experiences (unless the advertising is trying to be spooky). Placing white text on a black background is also not recommended for things you need to read at a glance – black doesn’t reflect light and so our eyes have to work harder to read text on a black background. 


Symbolizes: purity, cleanliness, luxury

Used by: Apple, Chanel, Pantene

White is another hugely versatile color. Alongside black, white is commonly used for text and details on colored backgrounds. Meanwhile, anything will stand out over a white background. 

Many tech companies use white for its sophisticated simplicity (e.g. Apple). It can suggest that a product or service is luxurious but straightforward. White is used by many hygiene products like soaps and toothpaste because of its association with cleanliness. White can also symbolize an angelic quality and is often used to suggest purity.

Of course, if too much white space is used on packaging or a website, it can make a company look basic or generic. The term ‘white label’ is used for generic products that can be repackaged and rebranded for use by other brands. Therefore when using a lot of white to promote a product, you need to contrast it with some excitement and detail. The apple logo is a perfect example because it brings a sense of vitality to the whiteness. 


Symbolizes: energy, hunger, excitement

Used by: Coca Cola, Red Bull, Netflix

Red is an energizing color. It is regularly used to promote products and services related to sports, entertainment and sex. If you want to excite consumers use red.

You’ll find that many restaurants and food products use red. This is because red suggests hunger – humans are biologically programmed to associate it with fruit and red meat. Of course, because red is energizing, it’s worth noting that it’s most commonly used by fast food companies. Red encourages us to eat quickly rather than relaxing and taking our time – which can be important if you need to get customers in and out.

A negative connotation that red can have is danger. It is the color of fire and blood, and it is used in many warning signs. For this reason, you should never use red if you want to encourage calmness. It is why spas, sleep products, insurance companies and counseling services will almost always steer clear of red. 


Symbolizes: calm, trust, security

Used by: Facebook, IBM, Dell

Blue is the color of the sky and the sea. It is naturally calming – it has the opposite effect of red. This calming effect can promote a sense of trust and security, which has made it widely adopted by many tech companies and financial services. It is often used in the decor of offices, spas and clinics. You may also see it a lot in pharmaceutical packaging

Different tones may have slightly different connotations. A baby blue may suggest a childlike sense of calm, whereas a darker blue can suggest a more sophisticated sense of trust. This could be something to consider when choosing blue.

Blue may be one of the most common colors used by brands and therefore run the risk of being a little boring. It is not always attention-grabbing and therefore may be a bad choice on PPC ads and billboards. fIt is also ill-suited for products or services where you need to convey a sense of energy – you’ll almost never see a fast food restaurant or energy drink using mostly blue.


Symbolizes: warmth, cheerfulness, youthfulness

Used by: McDonalds, Shell, Best Buy

Yellow is the color of the sun. It therefore suggests a sense of warmth and cheerfulness. McDonald’s golden arches are probably the most iconic use of yellow in a brand. Combined with red, McDonalds’ use of yellow is used to create a sense of youthful energy.

A great benefit of yellow is that it stands out. We associate it with light, and therefore it can act as a beacon on a poster or on signage. The yellow shell logo is a prime example – designed to attract drivers.

Too much yellow in branding can have a negative effect, causing a sense of fear. This may be due to yellow being associated with wasps and fire, as well as being used for warning signs much like red. Therefore, you should not use too much yellow if you want to convey a sense of calm. 


Symbolizes: nature, growth, creativity

Used by: Starbucks, Animal Planet, Spotify

Green has become synonymous with environmentalism and the natural world due to its association with plants and trees. Many businesses that want to be seen as eco-friendly options use green in their branding. When used to promote food products, green can meanwhile suggest healthiness (it is also often used for vegetarian and vegan products).

There is a sense of growth and organic energy that green can also convey. This can make it a good color for companies that want to be associated with creativity and ideas. The likes of Spotify use green in this way.

Green can be associated with envy and greed. It is therefore often avoided by financial services and investment companies who don’t want to look like they’re out to get customers’ money.


Symbolizes: playfulness, enthusiasm, adventure

Used by: Reeses, Nickelodeon, Harley Davidson

Orange’s relation to the fruit may help to suggest a ‘zest for life’. It is often viewed by consumers as an energetic and playful color. This makes it a popular choice for kids products.

You’ll also see orange regularly being used in branding for adventure sports and thrill-seeker activities. Orange’s association with dawn and dusk may encourage consumers to seize the day. In fact it is used in the Harley Davidson logo for this very reason. 

Just be wary that too much orange may suggest cheapness. Many companies like Orange mobile and Easyjet have previously used orange to convey a sense of impulsiveness and accessibility that has made it a common color for budget products and services. It is rarely ever used to promote luxury services.


Symbolizes: extravagance, wisdom, magic

Used by: Cadbury, Hallmark, Roku

The color purple has had an interesting history. It was once associated exclusively with royalty and was a serious sophisticated color. However, many people trying to create a false sense of wealth began adopting purple and it gradually lost its sense of seriousness. This has led it to become more commonly associated with playful, cheeky luxury.

Chocolate brand Cadbury originally used purple because it was Queen Victoria’s favorite color. Although the color has lost its association with royalty, Cadbury has stuck with the color and helped to redefine its symbolism. Nowadays, purple is often associated with chocolate and other extravagant treats. Its use by Willy Wonka and by magicians has also given it a sense of magic.

Because purple has lost a lot of its seriousness, it is often best avoided as a color associated with more serious luxury products. Instead black is now the color of true wealth. Purple instead is better associated with everyday luxuries.


Symbolizes: femininity, love, kindness

Used by: Barbie, Cosmopolitan, Lyft

Pink was once a largely masculine color up until the 1950s when Mamie Eisenhower famously wore a pink gown to her husband’s inauguration. This started a wave of pink fashion among women that would rapidly turn men away from pink.

Despite attempts to break down gender stereotypes in recent years, pink is still largely associated with femininity and used by many women-focused brands like Barbie and Cosmopolitan. Many brands that weren’t solely aimed at women were discouraged from using pink in their branding. However, recently many brands like Lyft have been showing that pink doesn’t have to have feminine connotations – instead using the color’s symbolism of kindness to promote their service.

It will take a major male-focused brand using pink to truly break the stereotype. But for now, most smaller brands that are aimed at straight men may want to avoid using pink due to its potentially emasculating energy. 


Symbolizes: tradition, organicness, practicality

Used by: UPS, Cracker Barrel, Gloria Jeans

Brown is the color of wood and earth. It is commonly used by brands wanting to convey a rustic and traditional vibe such as Cracker Barrel. It is also the color of coffee and is used by many coffee brands like Gloria Jeans.

Brown can also symbolize practicality. It is traditionally the color of working men’s clothes and rustic wooden equipment. Companies like UPS have long used brown for this reason.

In recent years, many companies have been steering away from brown because it can give off an old-fashioned vibe. Brown can also be viewed as dull or dirty. It’s rarely ever used to promote fun and thrilling experiences, nor is it ever used for products related to cleanliness or hygiene. Overall, it’s a color that should be used with caution.

About the author

Petra Monaco is an artist, author, and professional problem solver for creatives, rebels, and multi-passionates.

She is here to help you remove frustration from your life and achieve your creative dreams with more ease and confidence.

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