How to Master Colour Psychology for your Brand and Website

Colour Psychology for Branding and Website | Free Guide Included

More than almost anything else, colour is one of the most distinctive and easily recognizable elements for a business’ brand and website. Playing around with different colour combinations and variations is not only a lot of fun, it’s also a part of the branding process that you should spend extra time on. Whether you realize it or not, the colours you use will have a huge effect on how people perceive your brand.

Did you know, for example, that up to 90% of snap judgements made about products or services can be based on colour alone? No joke!

In today’s article, we are going to dig deep into colour psychology and learn what it means for your brand and website. I've also created a free Guide to Colours and Web Branding resource to support this article, which you can download below or at the bottom of the page.

Free guide to colours and web branding

This helpful guide will walk you through the questions you should be asking BEFORE choosing a colour palette for your brand/website but probably aren’t.

Feel confident about the colours in your brand and on your website! Get the free guide today.

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Selecting Brand Colours Based On Ideal Audience

Colour is one of the foundations of branding because it helps with recognizability, identity and memorability. Businesses (and, by extension, their websites) must incorporate colour in a way that supports the brand and strengthens online interaction. How a company uses their brand’s colours online can make or break the user experience and today, we are going to establish why and how this works.

A company’s chosen colour palette can either attract or repel clients, depending on how it is used in their branding and on their website. Right off the bat, visitors to your website will decide whether or not they perceived that your business/brand has used colours appropriately, and whether or not it “fits” with what is being sold or promoted. As such, understanding colour psychology and choosing the right colours is one of the most challenging parts of the branding process.

This is especially true for companies (or individuals) who are new to the creative process since choosing colours can be overwhelming without the right understanding. There’s a fine balance between choosing a colour palette that you love that stands out in the industry, while still being appropriate.

Let’s look into this further.

Related: Launch Your Best Website free e-course

What is Colour Psychology?

Unless you went to design school, colour psychology is a pretty vague concept. You probably know that you’re drawn to certain colours over others, but have you ever wondered why that is?

One of the most tangible ways to communicate with an audience is through colour. It is an integral element of design and one that packs a major punch. Colour does many things including prompting action, influencing mood, setting the tone, etc.

When used correctly, colour gets you to feel a certain vibe, take a particular action, points the audience to a set place on a website, and even get into a desired emotional state. In other words: colour has a huge effect our mood and understanding of a brand. How cool is that?

A word of warning: just as people might instantly connect with the colour of your brand, the slip side to this is that they will also know right away if they don’t like it.

As such, it’s imperative that you consider the audience you’re looking to attract, and choose colours that accurately reflect your business and brand. If people don’t connect with the colours of your brand, they likely leave your website and won’t offer you their business.

Colour associations

Now that we’ve talked about how colour can make or break your branding, let’s look into how that is and what you can do about it. Since your website is a cruical part of your branding, colour must be used appropriately and effectively.

But wait! How’s a newbie supposed to pull this off on their brand new site? Easier said than done, right?

Luckily for you, my friend, that’s not necessarily true.

By understanding the popular connotations between different colours and the emotions they bring out, you can apply that to your own colour palette choice.

Without further ado, here is an introduction to colour psychology:

Primary Colours

Red

Colour Psychology Red

As the boldest primary colour, red often evokes feelings of excitement, youthfulness and passion. It is also associated with action, adventure, aggression, power, desire, love, energy, danger, wine, and even more intense things like blood, fire or war. It’s a colour with strong visibility (meaning it’s easy to spot on a website) and is often used as a way to highlight something or attract attention. A few well-known examples of this are “sale” signs or “stop” signs. In addition, many restaurants incorporate the colour red in their branding because it is said to stimulate appetite. Think: McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Campbell’s.

Yellow

Colour Psychology Yellow

Yellow is considered one of the warmest colours and is almost exclusively associated with positive, optimistic and happy feelings. It’s another colour that is bright, easy to spot and catches attention, which is why it’s often used on signage (e.g., yield signs and traffic markers). Yellow is also associated with change, or even caution or instability, which is why it is often used to bring out feelings of youthfulness and spontaneity. It’s rare to see this colour included in ultra-masculine branding or for high-end/luxury companies. A few other common associations are cheerfulness, clarity, curiosity, joy, happiness, play, positivity, sunshine and nature.

Blue

Colour Psychology Blue

This primary colour is worth paying attention to because it is arguably the most popular colour used in branding. Because it has many positive associations that can be applied to nearly any look and feel, blue is a real favorite. Many people associate blues with dependability, loyalty, trust, stability, serenity, and even trustworthiness. For these reasons, many social media sites (like Facebook and Twitter) have chosen blue as their main branding colour, as have many financial institutions (think: Merril Lynch, City Bank and Barclay’s). Blue can also be taken in another direction since it also has eco-friendly associations. Many companies will use the colour blue to evoke cleanliness and natural elements, such as water, air, sky, etc. The restaurant industry tends not to use the colour blue since it is an appetite suppressant - not the feeling they’re going for when they want you to upsize! Another “fun fact” about the colour blue is that it appeals equally to men and women.  Other common associations include dependability, trust strength, authority, calm, confidence, serenity and confidence.

Secondary Colours

Orange

Colour Psychology Orange

Diving into the secondary colours, the eye is often first drawn to orange. Less intense than neighbouring yellow and red, orange is still popular because it is distinctive yet effective. It is considered another cheerful colour that inspires friendliness and confidence. Many brands favour it since it is less aggressive than red, but still captures the feelings of energy and warmth. Understandably, it is often associated with joy, playfulness and sunshine. Because it’s a more “accessible” colour, many brands use orange to convey affordability, creativity, enthusiasm, youth and lightheartedness.

Green

Colour Psychology Green

Word to your Mother, Nature! Most people’s first association with green is that it is the colour of nature and ecology. It is used to show growth, healing, peacefulness and serenity, as well as fresh starts. The colour is perceived as balanced, fresh, harmonious, safe and healthy. Lighter greens are often used for calming effects (spas will often use soft greens), while darker greens are often favoured for banking, money and wealth (think: TD Bank, Fidelity Investments, Mint/Intuit).

Purple

Colour Psychology Purple

Purple is a unique colour because it’s associations are very focused and easily identifiable, especially compared to other colours. Most famously, purple is associated with royalty, luxury, nobility, sophistication, fantasy and “something extra”. It’s a colour that isn’t frequently found in nature which is why it lends itself to exclusivity, imagination and even mystery. Finally, the colour purple is also linked to creativity and wisdom.

Other Colours Commonly Used in Branding

Brown

Colour Psychology Brown

Commonly associated with nature, growth, practicality, utility and usefulness. It isn’t a flashy colour which means that it is most often used to convey depth, simplicity, seriously, subtlety, warmth and neutrality. For this reason, classic and timeless companies (like law offices, real estate and construction firms) are drawn to brown.

Pink

Colour Psychology Pink

Undoubtedly, pink is usually associated with femininity and romance. It also evokes gentleness, softness, innocence, delicacy, and friendliness. There has also been a trend in recent years to include bright/hot pink for more of a modern and bold look (think: Kardashians), especially when paired with whites and blacks.

Black

Colour Psychology Black

Yes, technically black is not a colour but let’s still take a moment to look at it anyways! Black is one of the more serious, no frills, elegant, powerful, authoritative and formal shades. It is equally traditional and distinct, while almost always evoking intelligence. It’s important to note, however, that black can also carry more sinister undertones like secrecy, grief, bad or even evil.

Applying Colour Psychology to your Website

Since your business’ website is the “home base” of your brand, it’s imperative that the colours are chosen because they will be attractive to your ideal audience. Remember, it’s more important for the colours to support the personality you want your business to portray instead of trying to align with stereotypical colour associations. Often times there will be an overlap with colours commonly used in your industry and the colours you’ve decided fit best with your brand - and that’s totally okay! If a certain colour scheme is the logical choice for your brand, you don’t have to shy away from it just because it’s popular in your industry.

As we’ve seen, colour psychology is nuanced and ever changing. Because of these complexities, colour can have a different effect on a person depending on the context. Take a quick look at how colour interpretations vary depending on cultural background.  In Western culture, the colour white means peace and new beginnings whereas in Eastern cultures it is often associated with death.  Add onto that personal preferences or past experiences and it’s no surprise that the perfect colour will never be the same for two people. Instead, pick the colours that work best for you and the audience you want to attract for your business.

Once you understand colour psychology, you’ll be able to apply that knowledge and confidently pick out a colour palette for your business’s brand and website.

To help make this task a little less daunting, I’ve created a free Guide to Colours and Web Branding resource that you can download here today. This helpful guide will walk you through the questions you should be asking before choosing a colour palette for your brand/website but probably aren’t. Be sure to click the button below if you haven't already!

Free guide to colours and web branding

This helpful guide will walk you through the questions you should be asking BEFORE choosing a colour palette for your brand/website but probably aren’t.

Feel confident about the colours in your brand and on your website! Get the free guide today.

Powered by ConvertKit

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Charlotte O'Hara

Vancouver