When you’re trying to decide on the perfect brand colours for your small business, I know how tempting it can be to go with a personal favourite – or just something you’ve seen and liked – and hope for the best.
However, if you want your branding to appeal to the right people, it’s important to be intentional in your colour choices and understand their meanings. Since colour is the first thing most people notice, using the right brand palette can instantly communicate meaning and help you make those all-important emotional connections with your audience. This is where colour psychology comes in.
What are your brand colours saying about your business? Here’s everything you need to know about the meanings and psychology of colour to help you create a meaningful brand palette for your business.
What is colour psychology and why is it important in branding?
Colour psychology is the science bit that explains our emotional and behavioural responses to colours. Different colours can evoke different reactions, emotions, cultural associations and levels of recognition, all of which can influence our choices.
According to Neil Patel, “Colour is 85% of the reason you purchased a specific product.” The Pantone Colour Institute has also found that 95% of our decisions related to colour are made by our intuition and emotional factors, only 5% are rational.
So the considered use of colour is a powerful opportunity to communicate messages about your brand, what you have to offer and how you do business. It can help you stand out from the competition, create positive customer experiences and strengthen connections with your audience.
What do different brand colours mean?
It’s important to highlight that our own experiences, cultural differences, and personal associations can impact our individual responses to a particular colour. Red, for example, is deemed extremely lucky in China, where they associate it with money and prosperity. In the U.S., green has similar connotations. Yet, here in the UK, we don’t especially associate either of these colours with money and wealth.
The shade, tone and intensity of a colour can also affect the way we view it. For example, a light baby blue may be tranquil and nurturing, whereas a saturated cobalt blue will convey depth and confidence, and a darker, navy blue evokes feelings of trust and formality.
That being said, colour psychology looks at the more widely-associated brain responses to each of the key colours. So, to help you on your quest to find the best brand colours for your small business, here are the hidden meanings behind 14 of them. Some may seem obvious, others might surprise you.
The colour red in branding conveys: strength, confidence, power, action, heat, danger, urgency, impact, boldness, passion, excitement, appetite, intensity, emotion
Red is a great brand colour choice for: entertainment companies, theatres, media brands, consumer food brands, restaurants and eateries, lingerie brands, arts venues, sports brands
Big brands who use red in their logos: Virgin, Coca-Cola, Pinterest, TED, Shakespeare’s Globe, Lego, HSBC, English Heritage, Costa Coffee, Heart FM, Kellogg’s, Vodafone, YouTube, Under Armour, Netflix, KitKat, Quicksilver
The colour blue conveys: professionalism, reliability, security, formality, depth, intelligence, openness, trust, peace, tranquillity, health, stability
Blue is a perfect brand colour for: social enterprises, tech businesses, finance companies, charities, medical industry, health & beauty brands, health spas, cleaning companies, insurers, estate agents, accountants, food & drinks brands
Famous examples of brands who use blue in their logo: Bombay Sapphire, Ford, NHS, Co-Op, Disney, McVities, Gap, British Airways, Dell, Boots, Barclays, World Health Organisation, Panasonic, United Nations, Oral B, Facebook, Oreo, Nivea, P&O Cruises, Vaseline, Dove
The colour green conveys: growth, sustainability, nature, renewal, trust, tranquillity, peace, healing, wellbeing, balance, harmony, stability, freshness, organic, environment
Green is the perfect brand colour choice for: public gardens, organic producers, eco-friendly brands, environmental organisations, florists, health coaches, yoga instructors, outdoor clothing, gardening brands
Examples of organisations who use green in their branding: Greenpeace, Starbucks, Waitrose, The Body Shop, HolidayInn, Spotify, Garnier, EatFresh, Lacoste, Tropicana, Simple, Whole Foods, Trip Advisor, Harrods, John Deere, Land Rover
The colour yellow conveys: warmth, happiness, joy, optimism, youthfulness, brightness, sunshine, cheerfulness, satisfaction, positivity, energy, attention, information, intellect, creativity, freshness, affordability
Yellow is a great brand colour for: children’s and baby brands, creatives, travel companies, budget brands, fast food retailers, consumer food brands
Examples of famous brands who use yellow in their logo: McDonald’s, Dogs Trust, Yellow Pages, Morrisons, Mailchimp, Lidl, Singapore Airlines, Veuve Clicquot, BIC, Snapchat, Hertz, Ikea, UHU, National Geographic, Selfridge’s
The colour orange means: fun, adventure, energy, warmth, sunshine, friendliness, vibrancy, playfulness, creativity, affordability, flavour, appetite, happiness
Orange is a great brand colour choice for: food & drinks brands, toy companies, children’s & teen brands, family restaurants, budget brands, travel companies, fitness coaches, sports brands, creatives
Examples of big brands who use orange in their logo: National Youth Theatre, Sainsbury’s, GlaxoSmithKlein, Etsy, Harley-Davidson, Hermès, SoundCloud, Penguin, Fanta, Amazon, EasyJet, Timberland, Sally Hansen, Fossil
In branding the colour purple conveys: luxury, quality, excellence, tradition, spirituality, magic, power, royalty, nobility, heritage, nostalgia, romance, glamour, creativity, depth, relaxation, intellect, achievement
Purple is a perfect brand colour for: high-end brands, confectionary companies, estate agencies, transformation coaches, historical buildings, events companies, arts venues, luxury goods, jewellers, beauty brands, health spas
Examples of famous brands who use purple in their logo: Asprey, Cadbury, Crown Plaza, Greenwich Theatre, Claire’s, Monster, Hallmark, Premier Inn, Liberty, Purple Bricks, Aussie Hair, Urban Decay, FedEx
The colour pink in branding conveys: femininity, youth, innocence, tenderness, kindness, sweetness, care, nurturing, love, romance, fun, intimacy, sentimentality, optimism, trendsetting, creativity, imagination
Pink is a great brand colour choice for: coaches, writers, florists, cake makers, charities, maternity brands, events organisers, entertainment companies, stationery designers, fashion retailers, wedding businesses, beauty salons, cosmetics brands, toy companies, gifting brands, pâtisseries, teen brands
Examples of brands who use pink in their logo: Cancer Research UK, La Mer, HMV, Roxy, BBC Three, Soho Theatre, Cosmopolitan, Miss Selfridge, T-Mobile, Barbie, Victoria’s Secret, LG
A shade of blue-green, such as teal, aqua, mint, cyan or turquoise, conveys: clarity, communication, vision, intuition, creativity, calmness, relaxation, healing, serenity, joy, friendship, freshness, energy, inspiration, knowledge, sophistication, emotional balance, wholeness, loyalty, youth, compassion
Teal and other forms of blue-green make a great choice for: communications companies, creatives, business coaches, travel companies, home & lifestyle brands, health spas, watersports providers
Examples of big brands who use teal: Tiffany & Co, BBC Two, Cathay Pacific Air, EE, Canva, Siemens, Le Meridien, Pampers, Deliveroo, Heinz Beanz, Vinted
Conveys: earthiness, depth, flavour, artisan, craftsmanship, skill, strength, durability, age, reliability, support, practicality, endurance, ruggedness, adventure, outdoors, nature, organic, tactile, homeliness, wholesomeness, humility, heritage
Brown is a great brand colour choice for: small food producers, florists, outdoor clothing brands, activity instructors, coffee brands, men’s beard care, leather goods, skilled makers and artisans, heritage crafts producers, restaurants & cafés, bakeries, confectionery brands, whole foods brands
Examples of famous brands who use brown in their logo: Bloom & Wild, Nespresso, UPS, M&Ms, Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, Louis Vuitton, Ferrero
Black in branding communicates: style, elegance, luxury, timelessness, mystery, sophistication, authority, power, boldness, edge, exclusivity, secrecy, formality, distinction, stability, seriousness
Black is a perfect colour choice for: boutique hotels, luxury car brands, designer fashion, sports brands, luxury goods, premium food brands
Examples of famous brands who use black in their logos: John Lewis, Chanel, WWF, MAC, Patagonia, Nike, Zara, Vogue, Olay, Adidas, Cartier, Steiff, Dior, Tate, Harvey Nichols, Lancôme
In branding, white conveys: simplicity, timelessness, elegance, sophistication, modernity, freshness, cleanliness, purity, innocence, virtue, health, safety, peace, youth
White is a great brand colour choice for: photographers, wedding businesses, fashion brands, interior designers, linen and soft furnishings, brands, cleaning companies, medical & healthcare companies
Examples of big brands who use white in their logo: BBC, Nike, Apple, Chanel, Starbucks, WWF, DC Shoes, Innocent, The White Company, Hotel Chocolat
The colour grey conveys: security, formality, conservation, dignity, quality, seriousness, neutrality, timelessness, sophistication, trust, reliability, intelligence
Grey is a great brand colour choice for: engineering companies, tech brands, legal services, informational services, arts venues, classic fashion brands, jewellers, tailors and dressmakers
Examples of famous brands who use grey in their logo: Beaverbrooks, Wikipedia, Dove Men+Care, Saatchi Gallery, Nestle, Radisson Hotels, Wii, Nintendo
Metallic gold conveys: superior quality, luxury, premium, high value, exclusivity, high status, confidence, inner wisdom, knowledge, excellence, achievement, nobility, heritage, importance, generosity, wealth, prestige, victory, magic, opulence, elegance, glamour, beauty, love, aspiration
Gold is a perfect brand colour for: fine jewellery makers, watch brands, luxury hotels, fine fragrances, luxury car brands, premium food and drinks, winemakers, chocolate brands, luxury fashion and home retailers, wedding venues, heritage brands, arts venues, bookshops, wedding stationery brands, event designers
Examples of famous brands who use gold in their branding: Michael Kors, Lindt, Warner Bros, Harrods, Guinness, Versace, Lamborghini, Twinings, Pantene, Oman Air, Lux, Chevrolet, 20th Century Fox, Green & Blacks, Louis Vuitton, Ferrero, InterContinental
Metallic silver conveys: quality, craftsmanship, elegance, grace, glamour, polish, sophistication, prestige, affluence, wealth, innovation, high-tech, precision, refinement, timelessness, modernism, intuition, composure
Silver is a great brand colour for: jewellery designers and retailers, watchmakers, engineering companies, automotive brands, investment companies, tech brands, awarding bodies, luxury travel companies, heritage crafts, leather accessories designers
Examples of famous brands who use silver in their logo: Molton Brown, Apple, Audi, Oman Air, Mercedes-Benz, Beaverbrooks, Volkswagen, Jaguar
How do I choose my perfect brand colours?
Now you know a bit more about the meanings of different brand colours, you might be wondering how to pick the best combination for your business, how many colours you should choose, and whether they’ll even work together visually.
In my next post, I’ll be taking you through the anatomy of a brand palette and showing you how you can create the perfect colour scheme for your small business in a few simple steps. Be sure to follow along on Instagram to stay up to date whenever a new post goes live! In the meantime, feel free to contact me with any questions.
Until next time… x