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The Surprising Truth About Colors And Branding

Color psychology is always a popular topic, perhaps because the idea that we can instantly switch moods or perceptions with a simple change of shades is so alluring. But the truth isn’t, well, black and white. Here’s what the research says-and how to use it in your branding!


Personal Preference Matters

When it comes to how we feel about different colors, we are somewhat influenced by cultural–and maybe evolutionary–factors. For example, people from all over the globe tend to like blue, which evolutionary psychology researchers have hypothesized may be because we associate the color with clear skies, and college students with more “school spirit” tend to prefer the colors of their school. But ultimately, our attitudes toward color are informed largely by our personal experiences, and can be changed by what we see linked to a given color–even if we’re predisposed to a certain color preference.


Color Appropriateness is KeyThe Surprising Truth

More important than the color itself is the perceived appropriateness of a color to a brand. So, even if a person’s professed favorite color is red, they made dislike, say, a day spa that uses primarily red in it’s branding. Even though they like the color, it’s not appropriate to the laid-back, relaxing vibes normally associated with a good spa.


Moral of the story? Go with colors based on the aspects of your brand’s personality you want to emphasize, not the perceived preferences of your target audience. But don’t forget…


Context Matters

There are broad stereotypes describing what different hues represent, but many are oversimplified. Green, for example, can represent stability and money, or it can reference environmentalist values. Make sure you are providing context cues to help make it clear how colors are meant to be interpreted, and use elements like shade and texture to help further clarify.
All this sound daunting? It shouldn’t–basically, what it means is that brands have a lot more freedom to pick and develop color palettes based on their unique values and image than oversimplifications–i.e. “pink is girly, blue is serious”–would have you believe. And when you’re ready, check out penfactory.com for a selection of quality business promotional products in colors, shapes, and styles to fit any brand!