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Colour Psychology and Branding


We may not always realise it, but colour plays a huge part in how we perceive things in life. We’re taught from when we are children the basic traffic light notion that red means ‘stop’, ‘danger’ or ‘no’, green means ‘go’ or ‘yes’ and orange sits somewhere in the middle.

Our brains subconsciously respond to colour in a far deeper way than this. In this commercial world, we are fed messages from brands from the moment that we wake up to when we go to sleep at night, even if we aren’t constantly online. Colour psychology plays a huge part in the way that we perceive these brands and their messages. A huge 84.7% of consumers say that colour is one of the main reasons for their purchase of a product.

Wheel of brands by colour

There have been many different studies on colour psychology and the different cognitive responses that occur in the human brain as a result of different colours.


Yellow is widely recognised as the happiest colour in the spectrum. It is the colour of optimism, warmth and inspiration. McDonalds’ ‘golden arches’ are well known for being a welcoming sight for many. Many fast food companies use yellow to appear welcoming and friendly, enticing people to want to be ‘friends of the brand’.


Green signifies peacefulness, health and nature. Many food brands encompass green within their branding due to the health connotations that it brings with it. For example, McDonald’s made the switch a few years ago to the subtle dark green colour across their storefronts, uniform and interior décor. This not only makes the brand appear less juvenile but the green sparks earthy and natural connotations. They could have also been attempting to differentiate their brand from the many other fast food restaurants that use red and yellow.


Blue ignites a feeling of trust for many people. Many brands use blue as their predominant colour – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Paypal, Skype, and that’s just a start. Social networks like to make you feel at ease while using them, so the blue works to make you feel trusting of these brands.

It’s also been suggested that blue is used for many social networks as the human eye finds it difficult to fall asleep when looking at blue colours, meaning an extended browsing time late into the night for many users.

Black, White and Grey

Monotone colours signify maturity, calmness and balance. Many premium brands adopt a neutral colours scheme within their logo and branding because of this, as well as the simplicity and the formality that it emits.


The psychology behind the colour red is very often thought of as being bold and attention-grabbing, as well as exciting and even passionate. Many of the biggest brands in the world have adopted red as their colour, arguably the most famous being Coca-Cola. Virgin is another brand who have adopted the strong red colour as a predominant part of their brand identity. A 2006 study by S Singh states that red also stimulates our appetite because of the effect it has on our metabolism, which is another reason why fast food restaurants embrace this colour.

Take a look below at the Coca-Cola logo in different colours. Do you feel differently about the brand when it isn’t in red?