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The emotions of color in design

emotions of color

This article about the importance of color was written in 2016, and the id8 has made a few updates to bring it current. The majority of the article is evergreen and applies as much in 2016 as it does today.

Color psychology focuses on the emotions of color. It is a branch of behavioral psychology related to how color affects human behavior. From a marketing perspective, color psychology is not as simple as “yellow is a happy color.” Research has shown that color perception can vary based on personal experiences and attitudes. To consumers, it is more important that brand colors match the attitude or perception of the brand versus a standard, broad definition. In “Impact of color on marketing,” researchers found that consumers make up to 90% of snap judgements about products based on color, depending on the product. Therefore, marketing design should begin first with a deep understanding of consumer perceptions of the brand or product. Second, designers should consider the emotions of color choices.

emotions of color

Choosing the “right” color for design can vary based on several factors. Therefore, the process of color selection should never be an after-thought. As Pantone, the world-renowned authority on color, states throughout their website, “when 80% of human experience is filtered through the eyes, we understand that the choice of color is critical.”

Color can resonate with people in different ways, but below is a summary of the most common emotions of color in design.

The color red

Red is the color of fire and blood, so it is associated with energy, power, passion, and love. Red is a very emotionally intense color. It is commonly used in food brands like McDonald’s and Wendy’s because it can increase appetite.

The color orange

Orange represents happiness, creativity, and stimulation. To the human eye, orange is a very hot color, so it gives the sensation of heat. Orange is the signature color for the id8 brand – a company that represents ideation.

The color yellow

Yellow is cheerful, friendly, and stimulates mental activity. Like red, yellow is often associated with food and is also used to capture attention. Yellow is the color of the Tour de France winner’s jersey, happy faces, Post-it notes, and signs that alert us to danger or caution.

The color green

Green is a natural fit to represent outdoor or environmentally friendly brands because it is associated with nature and life. Animal Planet, John Deere, and Whole Foods stores consistently use green in branding.

The color blue

Blue is a common color in business because it generally represents trust and security. Facebook, PayPal, and many financial institutions predominately use the color blue. It is important to note, however, that blue is not an ideal choice for food brands.

The color indigo

Indigo is representative of intuition and spirituality. It promotes deep concentration during times of introspection and meditation. The Fair Indigo clothing brand identity is one of fair trade, values, and sustainability. The brand message is “an alternative to the fashion world’s slavish devotion to fads.”

The color violet

Violet represents the future, the imagination, and dreams. It is a royal color that also portrays bravery, as in the Purple Heart award for injured soldiers. Violet can help to develop imagination and creativity. So much so, that while composing his operas, Richard Wagner surrounded himself with the color.

The color black

Black exudes a feeling of power, luxury, and an image of highest quality. Mercedes, Lamborghini, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton use black in their branding and web designs.

The use of white space

White space can increase attention and improve legibility. When used effectively, white space improves comprehension and keeps marketing materials and websites from being too busy.

Color is powerful when done correctly. It can elevate the overall consumer experience with a brand. How do your customers perceive your brand? Do the predominant colors in your marketing materials help to reinforce that brand perception?