Design

How Well Do You Know Your Brand Colors?

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As we know, humans are visual beings. According to a study conducted at the University of Minnesota, presentations using visual aids were found to be 43% more persuasive than unaided presentations.

When it comes to purchasing, branding, and selling, colors play an important role. Because they function as visual cues, colors help our brain recognize and remember logos and brands.

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HOW COLOR INFLUENCES BRANDING AND PURCHASING

Researchers found that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone.
 Identifying and aligning your brand with a color specific to your business and the feelings you want to elicit is key to sales success.

Colors influence how consumers view “brand personality”. A study demonstrated that purchasing intent is greatly affected by colors due to the impact they have on how a brand is perceived.

In addition, the relationship between brands and color relies on the perceived appropriateness of the color being used for the particular brand. Our reaction towards colors stem from conditioned links between a specific color and what the color represents.

For example, our society has conditioned us to associate the color pink with femininity. Hence, using the color pink for a brand which speaks to femininity would then be appropriate. One good example of this would be the “pink ribbon” campaign for breast cancer awareness.

ON THE OTHER HAND…

It is important for new brands to specifically target logo colors that ensure differentiation from long-established competitors.

For example, the color red in the fast food industry has been associated with brands such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and KFC. If a new brand were to enter the food industry, that brand may not stand out if it chooses the color red as its dominant brand color.

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Customer reactions to color appropriateness in relation to the product is far more important than the individual color itself.

Barbie, for example, uses splashes of feminine colors such as pink and pale blue. These colors speak more to their target audience (girls between the ages of 1-12), while brands such as Harley Davidson use black and orange to create a more rugged look.

In addition, certain colors are associated with specific traits. For example, the color blue is associated with credibility, focused and calming while orange creates connotations of confidence and cheerfulness.

However, almost every academic study will tell you that it’s important to apply colors that support your brand personality rather than trying to align with stereotypical color associations.

Green, for example, represents calmness – but it is also highly associated with environmental issues. Brown can add to a rugged appeal (think about Timberland boots), but it’s also associated with an inviting, warm feeling (like those associated with Thanksgiving or chocolate commercials).

To complicate things even further, customers’ reactions to colors are more determined by personal experiences, preferences, and cultural backgrounds. There is no way of universally translating a single color to a specific feeling.

The bottom line is that there is little evidence that choosing one color over another would lead to more purchases. More importantly, it’s the feeling, mood, and images associated with a brand that play a role in persuasion. Colors can come into play to help create these feelings associated with the brand personality.


Colors might be all around us, but for young business owners (or even seasoned ones) looking into branding, they can be a complete mystery.

How on earth, for example, did McDonald’s decide to go red and yellow? Did Mr. McDonald (true story: Richard and Maurice McDonald were its founders) see a flash of yellow light while serving up burgers one day?

And what about Starbucks’ green? It’s not the first color I’d associate with coffee, that’s for sure.

As confounding as it is, picking the right color(s) is essential to a company’s identity. In fact, the two can even become synonymous with each other, like in the two examples above.

Don’t believe me? Take the quiz below, and see how many brand-color combinations you get correct. You may be surprised how many you subconsciously recognize. Let us know how you scored in the comments below!

Piktochart teammate Rowena Foo contributed to this post.

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