If color theory and color psychology have taught us anything, it's to choose wisely. In fact, it’s often the first thing people notice about your brand. At a glance, without saying a word, color conveys symbolic meaning and emotion.

Color is light and energy. It’s the intersection of art and science. So, it’s no wonder that strategic use of color impacts customer engagement, sales and brand loyalty. Transversely, the wrong color has the potential to be confusing and off putting. We use these principals when designing logos, branding, and just about everything we do.

Technically, your brand can be any color on the spectrum - you can go buck wild on it if you want. But choosing the appropriate color can be the difference between an effective brand and one that turns people away which is why it's important to consider your audience and how you want to be perceived.

While there are in-depth studies into color usage and subliminal messages, we'll just be running through your basic Crayola 8-pack today. We'll even throw in two additional colors, call it a gift.

RED: Physical

Quality: Attention Seeking

Symbolism: Passion, Boldness, Drama

Mood: Excited

Affect: Enthusiasm, Anticipation

Industries: Children’s Products, Food, Sports, Fire Protection

Brands: Coca Cola, Target

The color red has a wide range of connotations to a worldwide audience. In China, red symbolizes good luck but is symbolic of mourning in South Africa. On Wall Street “in the red” suggests you’ve lost money. Before you throw your favorite shade of red onto a logo or some branded material, make sure your audience is going to respond in the way you want them to.

If your audience is a herd of bulls, maybe avoid using red altogether. We're assuming cartoons are a good source for facts.

ORANGE: Warmth

Quality: Friendly

Symbolism: Creative

Emotion: Cheerful

Affect: Optimism

Industries: Arts & Entertainment, Sports, Transportation

Brands: Nickelodeon

Orange is a fun color but also symbolizes caution. It's Halloween in a nutshell: "Go children, have fun and collect candy. But look out for ghouls!" 

YELLOW: Emotional

Quality: Fun, Energized

Symbolism: Happiness

Mood: Enthusiastic

Affect: Invigorated

Industries: Food, Sports, Travel

Brands: McDonald’s

According to studies, yellow stimulates memory. But other studies report that babies cry more in bright yellow rooms and tempers are more likely to flare. Touches of yellow add a joyous feel, but too much yellow can become overwhelming. If you've ever woken up to too early to a bright sun, you understand this feeling.

BLUE: Intellectual

Quality: Responsible

Symbolism: Honest

Mood: Hopeful

Affect: Reflection

Industries: Health Care, Security, Entertainment, Technology, Communication 

Brands: Facebook, Twitter, PayPal

Blue is the most common favorite color worldwide. But it is also the least appetizing color. This is because there are very few naturally occurring blue foods, and if you happen across one you would consider it poisonous or dangerous. If your brand is food related, maybe avoid the color blue.

GREEN: Growth, Balance

Quality: Revitalized

Symbolism: Money, Outdoors, Organic

Mood: Calm, Relaxed

Affect: Harmonious, Positive

Industries: Environmental, Agriculture, Banking

Brands: John Deere, Starbucks, Whole Foods

Because of its spectral wavelength, green is the most relaxing color to the eye, optically. It’s known to help alleviate depression, nervousness, and anxiety. Most things in nature are green: grass, trees, plants, ya know, nature stuff. It's this connection to nature that calms us. If you want your brand to be perceived as a reassuring and relaxing, consider green.

PURPLE: Awareness

Quality: Imaginative, Nostalgia, Luxury, Value

Symbolism: Spiritual, Royalty 

Mood: Sentimental, Intrigued, Inspired

Affect: Uplifted

Industries: Creative Industries, Luxury Goods

Brand: Hallmark, Taco Bell, Twitch

Purple is the balance of red's physical and blue's intellectual components. It balances the mind and can even trigger creativity. It's not used as often as other colors in branding so when it is used those brands are perceived as creative. If you're looking for a touch of instant creativity in your brand purple might be a good place to start.

PINK: Love

Quality: Romance, Compassion, Sensitivity

Symbolism: Feminine

Mood: Playful, Tender

Affect: Soothing, Nurturing

Industries: Children, Beauty, Fashion

Brand: Victoria’s Secret

Pink is typically associated with feminine qualities like kindness, nurturance, and compassion. It's soothing in a maternal way. There have been several uses of the color pink to calm people and make them less energetic, such as painting "drunk tanks" and opposing team locker rooms.

BROWN: Solid

Quality: Stable, Reliable

Symbolism: Earth, Organic

Mood: Trusting

Affect: Grounding

Industries: Transportation, Agriculture, Construction

Brands: UPS

Brown evokes images of mountains and rock, so people perceive it as solid, consistent, and safe. Great for a brand that is building something that lasts like construction. if your product needs to be perceived as solid and long lasting, we might suggest something in brown.

BLACK: Sophisticated

Quality: Mysterious

Symbolism: Power, Authority, Strength, Glamour 

Mood: Inquisitive

Affect: Aspirational

Industries: Luxury Goods, Fashion

Brands: Christian Dior, Tom Ford

Black is sleek and mysterious. It's the little black dress you pull out when you want to show off. It's a tuxedo that only comes out when you need to impress someone or just feel really good about yourself. Looking to make an impact and be remembered? Slip into something black.

WHITE: Purity

Quality: Perfection

Symbolism: Purity

Mood: Confident

Affect: Certainty

Industries: Technology, Scientific, Pharmaceutical

Brand: Apple

In paint, white is the absence of color. It's clean and pure. On a screen or in light, white is the collection of all colors. It's completion and wholeness. Whichever way you look at it, white is a powerful color that conveys perfection and purity. Now, whether any brand can actually achieve perfection is a completely different and philosophical question. But if that is the perception you're looking for, white is your color.

Colors in Practice

One example of a logo we recently rebranded is the Sugar Plum Tour, Akron’s holiday home tour and premier fundraiser of the Gay Community Endowment Fund. This playful logo nods to the popular holiday tradition, The Nutcracker ballet, as well as the beloved holiday poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas. While it’s a given that the color purple is commonly associated with the fruit, it also adds a magical element to an already festive seasonal event. A fresh sprig of green adds a delightful twist of endearing, natural charm.

“Purple and green play well together because the combination symbolizes luxury and quality. In a nutshell, that’s the promise of The Sugar Plum Tour. Guests expect a grand and festive experience.” 

-- Lia Fleming, Associate Creative Director