In order to be successful in marketing and branding, you must intimately know your audience. Sometimes, businesses are focused solely on reaching a targeted audience or capturing small niches of the market. However, principles of visual design and color theory are applicable to every brand, regardless of their business.
Humans are deeply and intuitively responsive to use of color, and this insight is incredibly useful for building a memorable and effective brand image. When creating business cards, postcards, wedding invitations, flyers and other print materials, it’s important to understand the meaning of the colors selected.
Colors and Shapes
Color can be incredibly influential in our perception, and color theorists and marketing experts have honed their skills to take advantage of this fact. Below we have listed a brief breakdown of common colors and their effect of mood. Depending on the nature of your business, there are different colors that best fit the mood and nature of your company.
Color Examples and Meaning
Gray is seen as a neutral color, signifying balance and calmness. Wikipedia is one of the more popular brands that utilizes this color, signaling the need for users to write unbiased, balanced content in their entries. This is also evident in Apple products, which strive for a positive and calm user experience.
Black signifies elegance, power and mystery. Many high-end fashion brands choose to apply a lot of black for this reason. This is evident in brands such as Chanel, Hermes, and Yves Saint Laurent. Black can also be viewed as authoritative like with The New York Times and CBS logo. Black can be used as a background to make sure other colors stand out. The color black contrasts great with bright colors.
Brown is a natural color, and it is seen as stable, reliable, and approachable due to its earthy quality. Hershey is a great example of effectively utilizing brown to its advantage, the comforting color being both nostalgic and timeless while conveying the company’s strong history. J.P. Morgan, one of the oldest, largest, and well known global financial institutions, also uses the color brown to denote stability and reliability.
Blue is one of the more popular choices for brand logos, signifying trust, loyalty, strength, and reliability . This color is well received for electronic and digital services such as Dell, AT&T, Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress, as well as product-based companies such as Walmart, Oral-B, Lowe’s, Ford, and Oreo.
Green signifies growth, nature, health, and peace. Companies such as Whole Foods and Tropicana use this color to show that their quality food and drink products are beneficial to one’s health. Meanwhile, television channels such as Animal Planet and hotel chains like the Holiday Inn focus more on the peaceful environment component. Lighter greens tend to feel more optimistic than a serious, subdued shade of green. Additionally, a darker green can be associated with money.
Orange reflects a friendly, cheerful and confident vibe. It is perfect for television channels such as Nickelodeon and Starz, whose goals are to welcome and engage new viewers. It is also a good choice for adventure or vacation company logos. Harley Davidson is a good example for this, as its motto is to “Stop Dreaming. Start Riding,” beckoning a call to adventure. Orange also offers a high visibility, so it can easily catch the attention or potential customers and can effectively highlight important elements of a print design.
Red is a passionate color, evoking emotions of excitement, youth, and boldness. This high visibility color is popular for children’s toys, such as Nintendo and Lego as well as drawing excitement for news stations such as CNN. Often times, red can bring text and images to the foreground and can be used as an accent color to stimulate hunger and to allow individuals to make quick decisions, which is ideal for for companies like Target, Dairy Queen, and KFC.
Purple represents creativity, inspiring imagination. Due to its creative nature, it is perfect for television channels like SyFy as well as creative products like the gift cards at Hallmark. Toy companies such as Barbie also opt to use purple to showcase their imaginative brand.
White is clean and pure, and it is often used by healthcare companies in order to connect themselves with this feeling. It also means safety, innocence and can often represent a successful beginning. Companies that incorporate white into their logo include Nationwide, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Carolinas Healthcare System.
Yellow is known for evoking feelings of optimism, clarity and warmth. This color is perfect for brands where customer service is at the forefront of their mission. Yellow can also be associated with food and is commonly used to highlight the most important item in a design. Brands such as McDonald’s, UPS, Sprint, and Ikea utilize various shades of yellow.