Color Psychology

The Psychology of Color in Marketing

Don’t underestimate the psychology of color in marketing!

Developing branding and marketing materials is a crucial step for any business. A logo and color scheme is what makes a company recognizable to its customer base. Companies like Apple spend years developing specific shades for their products. Space Gray, one of the most popular Apple iPhone colors, was developed through focus groups, research, and an understanding of Color Psychology. 

Even as a startup on a shoestring budget, you can’t afford to disregard the color and the role it plays in marketing.  Using the wrong color can leave potential customers feeling uneasy and untrusting of a brand.  But, choosing the right colors can make marketing a dream.

What is Color Psychology?

The concept of using color to elicit emotional responses has been around for thousands of years.

One research study states, “color associations may have been formulated early in human history when man associated dark blue with night, and therefore, passivity and bright yellow with sunlight and arousal.” (Grossman & Wisenblit, 1999, pg. 2)

Ancient Egyptians believed colors could help heal the body and mind. They used blue to calm the mind from focusing on pain and used the color orange as a way to gain energy before battles. 

More recently, Carl Jung, famed psychiatrist, used color to help patients heal from trauma and depression.  Today, we use colors in marketing as a way of connecting with certain moods or emotions.

According to Small Biz Trends, 85% of customers state that color is the main reason for their product choice.

How do Colors Influence People

There are seven primary colors used in marketing psychology:  Red, blue, yellow, orange, purple, green, and gray.


The color red is known to speed up a person’s heart rate and raise blood pressure. It’s the color of passion, the color of excitement.  If you want to instill a feeling of urgency, red is the color.

Red Logos: Target, Netflix, Coca-Cola, Lays, and Kellogg’s

Marketing: Primarily used by the food industry or businesses who rely on impulsive shoppers and clearance sales.



Blue has the opposite effect. It’s the color most often associated with peace, tranquility, calm. Many spas and yoga studios use the color blue in their marketing. Even closing your eyes and imagining a peaceful, turquoise ocean for 30 seconds can lower your heart rate. It’s the color of trust and strength.

Blue Logos: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Skype, and Dell

Marketing: Used frequently in social media and tech companies to foster a sense of security and trust.



Yellow is the third primary color. It’s the color of sunshine, cheer, and happiness.

“How wonderful yellow is. It stands for the sun.” -Vincent Van Gogh

It’s also the most visible color, making it the color to draw attention to items of importance. There’s a reason the most popular color of highlighter is yellow.

Yellow Logos: McDonald’s, Denny’s, Best Buy, Ikea, and Sprint

Marketing: Used to grab attention or bring awareness, used sparingly due to the vividness.



Orange is a warm color, and similar to yellow, it’s an optimistic color. It can be used to show confidence and friendliness. 

Orange Logos: Amazon, Firefox, Blogger, Bing, and Starz.

Marketing: Used to create calls to action, preferred by companies who sell subscription models.



Purple is the color of royalty, luxury. It invokes feelings of sophistication and wisdom.

Purple Logos: T-Mobile, Hallmark, SyFy, Crown Royal, and Yahoo.

Marketing: Used to market luxury products to the “Boomer” generation.



Green, the color of nature, the color of trees and grass. The color brings feelings of peace and wellness.

Green Logos: BP, John Deere, Whole Foods, Starbucks, and Android.

Marketing: Used by brands to give the message that their items are sustainable and worth the price.



Gray and white colors are both associated with balance, cleanliness, and purity. It creates feelings of sincerity and innocence.

White Logos: Apple, Nike, Puma, Wikipedia, and Mercedes

Marketing:  Used by brands who focus on design and aim to be associated with sleek products and concepts.

Leveraging Color Psychology in Marketing

But why should brands focus on color psychology?

93% of consumers focus on color and the visual appearance of an item when making the decision to purchase.  52% of shoppers do not return to a store based on the businesses’ aesthetics.

According to WebFX, “Research reveals people make a subconscious judgment about an environment or product within 90 seconds of initial viewing. Between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on color alone.”

If a company uses the wrong colors in their branding, the results can be disastrous.

In a study by HelpScout, changing the color of a “Buy Now” button from green to red boosted sales by 21%.


Color is a powerful tool in marketing,  using the right colors can increase a company’s revenue.  It’s important to note, that the psychology of color isn’t as easy as it seems; picking colors is one small part. A great marketer will know how to create materials that incorporate all significant aspects of design.    

It’s also important as a buyer to be aware of the influence of color on your wallet. Next time you’re feeling the urge to buy an item in the clearance aisle, take a moment to look at the color of the signage.