The Psychology of Color in Branding

According to an article in The New Yorker, blue was chosen in the branding of Facebook because Mark Zuckerberg is red-green colorblind. Mark says, “Blue is the richest color for me; I can see all of blue.”

And while it doesn’t sound like Facebook’s brand colors were chosen with scientific or psychological reasoning, most companies do, in fact, choose colors based on how they affect consumers’ purchasing behavior. In fact, studies have found that 90 percent of the assessment that goes into trying out a new product is made by color alone.


So, how exactly do colors affect marketing?

When it comes to persuading an audience, affecting them emotionally is key, and nothing (including copy or photos) can appeal to human emotion as much as color does. Color can prompt changes in mood and influence responses. So, to most effectively communicate your marketing message, the right colors must be chosen to accompany it.

If you work within the world of advertising, social media marketing, or web development, you have likely seen one of the many infographics floating around the internet matching colors with perceived marketing goals. And even though many psychologists argue that emotions derived from color depend on personal experiences, many will also agree there are color principles that can be accepted as being “true for most audiences in the United States.” Here are the most commonly used colors in branding alongside their associations and effects:



Black is associated with authority and strength. Many also associate it with intelligence (e.g., judges and graduates both wear black robes). Black should be used sparingly, however, as it easily overwhelms audiences.
Many brands choose to brand themselves with shades of blue to prompt feelings of trust and safety. It is also considered a “favorite color” for both male and female audiences in the United States.
Brown signifies earthiness, warmth, and wholesomeness. Shades of brown (e.g., taupe, beige, cream) are commonly used in the background of marketing materials to make other colors appear richer, and it is typically coupled with green to project that a product or brand is “earth-friendly.”

Green has nurturing, instructional, and adventurous qualities. It is best used when looking to develop a brand identity within the fields of medicine, science, or tourism.

Orange projects energy, eagerness, originality and desire. However, it has also been found to be a “least favorite color” amongst American audiences—so proceed with caution when integrating this bold color.

Purple promotes creativity and is associated with royalty, intelligence, and admiration. The color is frequently used within the branding of beauty products.

Red is associated with power, danger, and determination as well as passion and love. It is a very emotionally intense color with the ability to influence the body’s metabolism, respiratory system, and blood pressure. It is many times used in marketing to stimulate quick decision making.

Yellow signifies optimism and youth—it’s also commonly used to grab the attention of window shoppers.

Other visual elements to consider in marketing:

– Black and white vs. color: Studies have found that colored images are both more attention-getting and easier to recall than black and white or grayscale images.
– Color contrast: If your audience struggles to read your message, all of your marketing team’s hard work will have been for nothing.
– Multiple colors: Audiences have an easier time identifying and associating colors with a company when branding is limited to two colors.


Why does the psychology of color in branding and marketing ultimately matter?

Well, can you name the color of McDonald’s arches or the color of Coca-Cola bottles? Color is intensely associated with branding. And with studies showing that 85 percent of consumers choose color as a reason for purchase, it’s important your marketing team understands how color is perceived!