Color Psychology and Usage in Design


GraphiGuyBy GraphiGuyMarch 5, 2019In UI/UX Design0 Comments17 Minutes

We make color choices all the time, even if we don’t realize it. Hope this article will help you choose the right color for your next design. In Graphic Design color plays a major part in the correct reflection of your brand. In Web Design, a color scheme that is pleasing to the eye and well thought out will encourage your website visitors to stay longer and return often.

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While different colors yield different interpretations based on the person, many colors get similar responses from a majority of people. For example, red and yellow are used to induce an appetite (i.e. every fast food chain in America). Blue is often used to depict trust, expertise, and strength (i.e. Lowe’s, IBM, American Express). Blue is also said to suppress appetite, so it is rarely advertised along with food companies. Green, the color of nature, is symbolizes harmony, freshness, health (i.e. Whole foods) and has a strong correspondence with safety, hence its use in traffic signs. Orange indicates efficiency and speed.

Next time you are in a grocery store, notice the colors of laundry detergents. Many are orange and blue – blue, in this case, symbolizes cleanliness and orange captures a dynamic energy which communicates “industrial strength and cleaning power”. Blue and orange are also opposites on the color wheel and therefore can be an aesthetically pleasing pair.

Our society depicts basic moods, emotions, and feelings based on the rainbow spectrum, as seen below:

Additionally, consider certain cultural differences that may lead to skewed perceptions of your brand. For example, the color red could be interpreted as love and passion in western cultures, good fortune in Chinese cultures, and mourning in South African cultures.

But let’s go deeper in the meaning of the most used colors:

Red

The color of fire and blood, red is often associated with energy, war, danger, strength, and power, as well as passion, love, and desire.

Industry: entertainment, food, sports, fire protection

Used to: Stimulate, create urgency, draw attention, caution, encourage.

Websites: Coca-cola, CNN, Lego, Youtube, Pinterest, Lay’s, KFC, Netflix and a lot more.

Purple

The negative associations with purple are decadence, conceit, and pomposity. Purple is also the color for mourning and has been rumored as a color used for mental disorder care due to its stimulation of the brain.

Used to: Encourage creativity, inspire, combine wisdom, impress with luxury

Industry: Humanitarian, psychic, religion.

Websites: Yahoo, Cadbury, Hallmark, Welch’s, Barbie, Taco Bell and a lot more.

Blue

The color of trust. Blue is the most popular color used in brand creation and identity.

Used to: Reduce stress, create calmness, relax, secure, create order

Industry: Security, finance, technology, health care, accounting.

Websites:  Facebook, Dell, WordPress, Intel, Twitter, Oreo, IBM, NASA, GE, Ford, HP and a lot more.

Orange

The color of encouragement. It’s often considered friendly and inviting. Orange is also strongly associated with creativity.

Used to: simulate, communicate fun, draw attention, express freedom

Industry: Art, entertainment, food, sports, transportation

Websites: Amazon, Blogger, Mozilla, Nickelodeon, SoundCloud, The Home Depot and a lot more.

Brown

The color of the earth. Stability and a solid foundation is the message that emanates from the color brown.

Used to: Stabilize, imply common sense, suppress emotions, create warmth

Industry: Agriculture, construction, transportation, legal, food

Websites: UPS, M&Ms, Nespresso, Louis Vuitton and a lot more.

Yellow

Yellow is everywhere… the sun, the famous golden arches of McDonald’s, and heck, Coldplay even has a song named after the color!

Used to: energy, attention, and cheerfulness

Industry: construction, transportation, legal, food, warehouse

Websites: DHL, McDonald’s, CAT, IKEA and a lot more.

Black & White

At the two most extreme ends of the color spectrum are black and white! While many logos include these colors in their branding, there are some that utilize the two colors exclusively.

Used to: innocence, purity, and new beginning

Industry: fashion design, luxury, sport, entertainment, tv

Websites: Apple, Calvin Klein, LG, Nike, ABC and a lot more.

Multicolor

While lots of logos include more than one color, there’s no better way to wrap up our Color Psychology post than with a blog on brands that are every color of the rainbow!

Used to: multi-disciplinary, playful, and fun

Industry: internet, games, food, tv, entertainment

Websites: Google, Microsoft, eBay  and a lot more.

While monochromatic or single color brandings, as mentioned above, communicates “prestige, seriousness, neutrality and focus”, colorful logos help show that a brand has “a sense of playfulness, openness, informality, and creativity”! As you can see from all the logos below, many companies with multicolored logos fall into the category of tech companies and/or multi-disciplinary companies. For example, with both Microsoft and Google, their branding colors show no bounds, and so their exploration and growth as a company have endless opportunities as well.

Multicolored branding is also used for children’s toys, clothing, food, and other products. If you’ve ever wandered down the cereal aisle at the grocery store, it’s easy to see – bright and multicolored packaging tends to grab kid’s attention! This goes for parents as well. Parents tend to remember products and brands for their kids when they are very colorful.

Do you have any other thoughts about colors and their meanings? Let me know in the comments below!

GraphiGuy

Hi, I am the GraphiGuy a.k.a Constantin Bobic but you can also call me Coco :) Founder of GraphiGuy.com.
I am a regular FlyingGuy (Flight Attendant) at the major red-white-red tailed Airline in Austria. I really do love to fly and travel the world. In my spare time (sometime there's a lot... but psst!) I love to design and create UI & UX.

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