13th Jul 2018

Colour Psychology & The Art Of Using Colour In Design 

There are colours in everything you see, in every moment of your life, but have you ever stopped and thought about how much impact these colours have on you and your thoughts? Whether it’s the anger inducing effect of red or the calming feel of blue, colours have the ability to tap into all of your emotions. 

There’s an entire science behind colour theory and it’s essential that designers, business owners and even marketers are aware of the meanings behind colours in order to choose them wisely and tap into the minds of their audience. 

When it comes to your business, colour comes into play in a number of aspects, while you might instantly jump to thinking about your logo or your website, there’s your stationary, business cards, email signatures, social media platforms uniform and even elements such as your company cars or vans. 

Your colour choices are meaningful and used across a variety of platforms, so it’s important you understand which works best for your business and your audience. Understanding colour associations allow you to provoke specific emotions and behaviours, making your marketing, branding and design efforts much more worthwhile. 

Choosing Your Colours 

Before you decide on which colours you’re going to use, you need to consider a few things: Your target audience, your brand personality and an understanding of your competition. 

Your Target Audience – You need to know who it is you’re looking to appeal to, without a clear idea of who you’re talking to you could miss out on a lot of potential customers. By knowing who you’re targeting you know how you can approach your marketing, your design and make your design choices such as colours. 

Brand Personality – Is your brand playful or serious? Modern or classic? You need to know what your brand personality is to determine how your colours will fit. For example, if you’re a more feminine brand, you’re likely to choose more feminine colour schemes that best appeal to your audience. 

Your Competition – While you want your business to be different and stand out from the crowd, it’s a good idea to think about what your competition is also doing. This allows you to see what they and doing well and what they might not be as successful at, so you can incorporate this into how you develop your own design and branding.  

Finding Out Colour Meaning

But what do these specific colours say? What can they mean for your business? Here’s a run down of what each colour means and what you could learn from the way they’re currently used. 

Red – One of the more powerful shades in colour psychology, red is often associated with passion, in positive terms this could be love, lust or excitement, however, it also has its negative connotations and is associated with anger, violence and danger. Given that is has so many meanings depending on the context, many brands tend to use red as a highlight or accent colour, on CTAs for example, conveying excitement rather than pushing audiences to feel extreme emotions such as anxiousness. 

Yellow – Yellow is known to link in with the feeling of warmth, optimism and happiness. It’s often used to indicate energy, helping audiences feel more positive and motivated, which is why it’s a great colour to use as a call to action. A universal colour, yellow appeals to all audiences no matter of gender, meaning it’s great for a number of businesses and organisations.  

Orange – Similarly to the colour yellow, orange is used to convey feelings of warmth or light, demonstrating ambition, confidence, positivity and pride. The bold, inviting colour can be used to draw attention or in CTAs in the same way that red can be used, without being seen as harsh or aggressive and according to some research can be an effective colour to use when dealing with more upscale markets or to more affluent audiences. 

Green – Often associated with nature, growth and wellbeing, green is the perfect colour for those looking to represent ideas of health, freshness and natural qualities, with darker shades also signifying wealth and financial stability. Green is often seen as the easiest colour for the eye to process, therefore works as a great colour to use on logos and within your brand identity. 

Blue – Used by huge brands such as Facebook, Twitter and the NHS, blue is a colour that demonstrates chill, peaceful, clean qualities. It has also been known to demonstrate trustworthiness and dependability, which is why it’s often used by social media platforms, even if that trustworthiness isn’t always as legit as the colour may convey. Perfect for technology brands, lifestyle companies and even finance industries, it can be used well both in logos and in website design. 

Purple – Purple is famously associated with royalty, especially darker, richer shades of purple, whereas lighter shade such as lilac as associated with femininity, peacefulness and nostalgia. It’s often used by brands who are looking to portray themselves as imaginative or creative and more often than not it’s used to indicate luxury, as used by Cadbury’s. 

Pink – Widely seen in western cultures as the colour of femininity, love and kindness, pink is the perfect colour for targeted audiences that are typically feminine. It’s also seen to convey innocence, which is why it’s also often used in websites, logos and products that are aimed at babies and young children. It can be used well in a number of ways, such as in website designs, logos and also within social media channels. 

The psychology of colour has been a hot topic for designers for some time, especially those specialising in branding and logo design. Over time there have been a number of brands experimenting with their brand message and their brand identity, trying to determine how well their colour schemes work and how they impact their customers. 

Colour psychology is key when it comes to making sure that your brand has a powerful identity, you need to choose a colour that embodies what your brand stands for and appeals to your target audience! 

The more you understand about the psychology behind colour, the better a decision you’ll make on which colours your brand incorporates into your identity. While it’s a science, it’s not exact and there’s plenty of experimentation to be done when it comes to your own brand, now’s the time to start thinking about the relevance of your colour choices. 


Article By
Sarah Seymour,
Published: 13th July, 2018
Categories: Web Design

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