Why Are Colors So Important for Branding?

Whoa, a recent study reveals that color can increase brand awareness by 80%, you guys! Eighty. And if you think that’s a lot, guess what percentage of consumers focus on visual appearance ALONE, when considering a purchase — 93%! Getting the colors right for your brand is NO JOKE. But when you do it right, it can be a lot of fun!

Here’s the million dollar question I ask all my clients, because the answer to this question is the foundation for building every aspect of a great brand: “What is the ONE emotion your brand seeks to inspire?”

That’s it. That’s the million dollar question. That #1 emotion is the foundation, a guiding light, the true north for everything you need to know about building a GREAT brand. Hold on, you don’t have to answer it quite yet. It’s good to let your heart and mind take some time with a question as important as this.

For now, let’s talk about how color influences people, and how to choose the best colors for your brand.

Humankind has understood for centuries that colors influence our senses, our moods, and our emotions. In Eastern philosophy, the concept of chakras attribute different colors to different areas of the body. You know, the forehead, the heart, the core…Color chakras originated in India sometime around 500 BC! So when looking at the psychology of how color works in marketing, it’s pretty interesting to know we are actually dealing with an ancient wisdom that is so deeply ingrained into the human psyche, that it becomes a branding superpower.

Now we have highly advanced MRI studies, and A LOT OF THEM, that prove for a fact that different colors stimulate different areas of the brain, and they can actually watch the colors trigger specific emotional responses in the brain. The decision to buy IS emotional, so you can see how these statistics I mentioned have gotten up into the 80 and 90 percentile range!

So right now, I want you to do me a favor. I want you to think red. What is red?

Red alarm, red hot sale, Red Cross, red light, red herring…

Red creates urgency. Red is associated with movement, excitement, and passion! It pulls focus. And within the body, it has been shown to raise blood pressure and heart rate. It’s a little jolt of adrenaline! YouTube is red, and here we are! Red also encourages the appetite, which is why you see it used with so many fast food chains. It creates an urgent need for instant gratification.

Now, I want you to think blue with me. Mmmm, cool crisp blue. Fellas, you may not be surprised to learn that blue works especially well on you! Blue is associated with water, peace, and reliability.

Blue Ocean, blue sky, blue moon, true blue, blue ribbon…

Blue is the most frequently used color for offices and financial institutions. Blue triggers a sense of security in the human mind, which promotes trust in a brand. Young people see blue, and associate it with maturity. Blue is calm. Blue has things under control. Blue has your back. Blue creates a safe and tranquil space. This is why Walmart uses blue, and health brands like Oral B rely on blue to remind people that they are dentist approved.

How about Green? Can you think green with me? Now green is the color of the heart chakra, so it’s pretty amazing that a couple thousand years later, MRI research proves that green stimulates harmony and encourages healthy emotional balance between the heart and the mind.

Depending on who your ideal audience may be, green can telegraph the beauty and abundance of nature, OR it can telegraph an abundance of wealth — cause we all love to see our finances be, “in the green.”

Green light, going green, Green Acres, the green room…

Before going on stage, performers will often spend time in a room that has the walls painted green, because green physically relaxes the eye muscles so when the actor steps in front of a blinding spotlight, their vision adjusts more quickly. Green is new. Green is fresh. Green is fun, and relaxing. And because it’s so good at relieving stress, green is great for encouraging decisiveness.

Now let’s do purple! Bring on that purple…The color of royalty, and the third eye chakra, right here where our higher intuition resides. Purple is associated with wisdom and respect. Purple is creative in art, and a creative problem solver.

Purple Heart, Purple Rain, a purple mist…

Depending on who your ideal audience may be, purple will telegraph royalty, beauty and luxury -or- it can conjure a sense of mystery, spirituality, and devotion. There are so many opportunities to understand your audience more so you can curate the colors that will best speak to them.

Orange is cheerful, bright, and confident. It represents adventure, enthusiasm, and success. It also inspires creativity. Home Depot uses orange to inspire their audience to feel confident and creative about their home DIY projects. Orange is playful, like the Nickelodeon splat! Orange is like red’s friendly cousin. Not as intense as red, but it still catches the eye without creating alarm. This is why caution signs are orange. Orange isn’t a high-priority alarm, orange is more like a friendly heads-up.

Lastly, I want you to think yellow…bright sunshine-y yellow beaming in through the windows. Happiness, positivity, and optimism lives in those sunbeams, my friend. Even a little touch of yellow can add a zing of positivity.

Yellow Brick Road, mellow yellow, Yellow Cab Company, Yellow Submarine…

Ferrari uses yellow to inspire the thrill of having a carefree lifestyle, while IKEA uses yellow to match the optimism and enthusiasm of a new home-owner. Yellow is a color that is best used in splashes, like McDonald’s Golden Arches. Yellow makes babies cry! How wild is that? SO if you are marketing to new parents, you may want to leave the yellow out!

So, now let’s touch back to that million dollar question…What is the ONE emotion your brand seeks to inspire THE MOST? Think about it.

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