Feb 12 2019

Feeling the Frequency: How Color Spurs Emotion

“We buy things because we like the way they look.” – Don Norman

 

If you keep up to date with our blog, you’ve probably already read a fair bit on logos. Indeed, a brand’s logo is – spoiler alert – important. It is the piece of your brand consumers remember and recognize the most.

 

But it’s not all about the design – an attribute of your logo that is equally, if not more, important is color.

 

As consumers, we are immediately attracted to brands, rarely taking a moment to ask ourselves why or identify the reason behind the irrational feeling in our gut. Before we know the origin of a brand’s materials, nutritional facts, or mission statement, there is a magnetic pull (or push) already in effect. A piece of that puzzle is color, and how color makes us feel.

 

Think of it this way: when selecting the color of your living room walls or couch accent pillows, you are choosing what emotions you want to evoke each time anyone enters the room. Blue walls eliciting a sense of calmness, while yellow accent pillows spark a sense of joy. The colors of your brand should be the result of a similar thought process.

 

Let’s start by breaking down ye olde ROYGBIV (sort of) and compare a few of Interbrand’s Best Global Brands of 2018:

 

Red
Evokes desire, power, passion, importance. Honda’s slogan, “The Power of Dreams”, applies the color literally.

 

Honda

 

Orange
Evokes happiness, desire, optimism, warmth. Mastercard’s slogan, “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s Mastercard.”, conveys the warm idea that moments are priceless, and that those moments can be supported by Mastercard.

 

Mastercard

 

Yellow
Evokes energy, surprise, happiness, cheer. Nikon’s slogan, “At the heart of the image”, reminds us that we are able to capture our happy moments and hold them close to our hearts for years to come.

 

Nikon

 

Green
Evokes growth, nature, wealth, calm, prosperity. Starbucks does not have an official slogan but color of their logo (combined with the overall design) conveys peace and prosperity.

 

Starbucks

 

Blue
Evokes calm, trust, creativity. We see many big brands taking advantage of blue. Here are General Electric (“For every traveler who gets home safely”) and PayPal (“The faster, safer way to send money”).

 

GE

 

PayPal

 

Purple
Evokes luxury, mystery, romance. Hallmark doubled down here: not only did they lean in to purple, but they’re rocking an actual crown as their logo too.

 

Hallmark

 

Black/White
Evokes a “clean” feeling, modernity, elegance, and luxury. Apple’s “Think Differently” definitely conveys innovation. As for Uber: what’s a more modern and luxurious way to travel than by digitally hailing a ride with your thumbs?

 

Apple

 

Uber

 

Multicolor
Evokes playfulness, creativity, opportunity. From their slogan “do the right thing” to their company culture to their daily homepage art, Google is all about being playful and creative.

 

Google

 

Now, hold on. Don’t just go picking colors because you want emotion pulled from your consumers, thinking any old shade will do. There are other things to consider: tint, shade, tone, contrast, and how colors pair. Are the colors of your brand pastel and subdued, or are they rich and vibrant? Does the pairing of the colors allow for legibility, or does it strain the eye? Simply choosing color isn’t enough. It’s in your brand’s best interest to take it a step further, a step past your competitors. Doing so can evoke more emotions and tell a different story.

 

This article is Part 1 of our series on how emotions and psychology play in to marketing. Next comes Part 2, which focuses on the role of UX.

 

Not sure how your brand should make the most of color? Let us take the (color) wheel.

 

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