Blog post

Unveiling colour psychology in branding and marketing

Date of post

21 May 2024

Blog categories

Read time

6 mins
Tom and Emma sat at the board table with laptops discussing a project

OK, I’ll come out and say it – I love colour! I know it sounds a little sad, but I guess I have to like it as part of my job. It plays a massive part in all of our lives, from marketing to product packaging and, ultimately, decision-making.

When I approach a branding project, colour plays a huge part in the process. I ask myself three key questions before starting:

  1. What emotions need to be evoked? 
  2. What industry is the business in? 
  3. What impact will it have on the customer? 

Of course, as with anything related to building brand awareness, you should know your audience and target market before starting any branding project. But if you want to play around with colours, this blog will give you a good idea of the important areas to look out for. 


The basics of colour psychology

Everywhere you look, colour is around us, from the green grass on your lawn to the bright blue sky (if we’re lucky here in the UK).

Think of the last time you chose a colour paint for your living room or bedroom – it’s a big decision, right? The reason it’s such a big one comes down to how you want to feel (or make others feel) when you walk into the room.

If you look back to the historical routes of colour psychology, Greeks used colours in their healing practices, a method known as chromotherapy. But, turning to more modern times, how do we know when and how to implement a specific colour in a brand or marketing campaign? 

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to this, but according to Review 42, colours alone can influence up to 90% of an initial impression, so it should always be a factor in any campaign.

Colour plays a huge role in how people or customers perceive a brand.

Colours and emotions

With a unique power to form emotion, every colour evokes a different feeling, or at least subconsciously, it impacts human mood and decision-making. 

In branding (according to Review42), blue emerges as the most commonly used colour among the world’s top brands, with 33% incorporating it into their logos. This is followed by red (used by 29%), then black and grey (28%). 

My take on colour – a breakdown

I’ve pulled together some colours and the emotions they can influence – I also thought it would be quite handy to see some examples of where these colours have been used:

Blocks of colours with their associated emotions and the brands that use these colours in their logos.


Many people associate red with danger, but there are lots of positive emotions that link to red, such as passion, energy, and excitement. You’ll find that a lot of sales campaigns use the colour red as it helps create a sense of urgency (again, linking to the danger aspect of the colour). Funnily enough, this colour can also help stimulate appetite, which is why many brands in the food industry use red in their branding or campaigns. 


Blue is associated with trust on the opposite end of the spectrum. The colour blue can also help evoke feelings of security, responsibility and calm. Consider a brand like Boots, a pharmacy and beauty company that prides itself on trust – for them, blue is the perfect colour match.


Yellow is an interesting one for me. I’ve not yet found an ideal use case for using yellow as the primary colour within a brand; however, there are many examples where yellow has made the perfect accent colour. You’ll find that yellow usually evokes emotions that link to optimism, happiness, and warmth. Coming back to my ideal accent colour—red—this could explain why McDonald’s uses red and yellow as a combination in its branding!


With links to growth, harmony, and environmental awareness, it’s no surprise that the colour green is used heavily in the financial industry and eco-friendly products. It’s also linked quite heavily to health and sustainability and can promote a sense of balance.


Orange is one of my favourite colours. Enthusiasm, creativity, friendliness, and confidence are all emotions associated with orange.

I call it a juicy colour. 

It’s an excellent colour for things like call-to-action buttons and, in some cases, children’s products. It’s less aggressive than red, but it still stimulates action and helps to promote a sense of enthusiasm or excitement.


Purple is a colour closely linked to luxury and even royalty. Brands use this colour to help promote a superior or luxury service, brand, or experience. Purple helps trigger the imagination and, in some cases, adds an element of mystery to a visual identity.


If you’re looking for a simple and clean brand look, black is your go-to. You’ll find black anywhere sophistication and elegance are needed. 

Many luxury companies, like Chanel, use black to make their logos look sleek and refined. While black is great for the fashion industry, the same can’t be said for the health industry due to its strong link with (and sorry to bring the tone down here) death/mourning.

How to approach colour in marketing 

A marketing campaign can be entirely different for a brand colour. By no means do I encourage you to go miles away from your company brand colours, but there’s more scope to experiment when using colour for one-off campaigns.

After answering my three key questions when starting a branding project, I find it incredibly useful to research competitors for an insight into what they’re doing. This may seem an interesting approach, as it’s fair to assume that using colours a competitor has can stop you from standing apart.

Of course, you don’t want to risk copyright infringement and want the brand to stand out, but marketing and psychology do go hand-in-hand. At the end of the day, if you choose a colour that connects with the right audience at the right time and helps to evoke the right emotions, the chances of a conversion or purchase are much higher. 

Nowadays, there are even online website builders and tools that will help you choose colours that are fit for purpose.

Using colours to optimise conversion rates

Colours can significantly impact conversions! From a website perspective, changing the colour of something like a CTA button can make a big difference. In eCommerce, green vs. red buttons are a fairly hot topic.

Let’s break it down. 

Green is often associated with safety or trust, which can encourage people shopping online to feel more secure about whether or not they are going to purchase something. In an online environment, it’s more important than ever to build trust and break down barriers. Another point to make about green is that it’s generally seen as a calming or comforting colour, unlike more aggressive colours like red, for example. 

Tests have shown that red buttons increase conversion. But does that mean the argument is sound? 

In my opinion, it doesn’t. It comes down to whether or not the colour fits with the website’s overall design, and what works on one website might not necessarily work on another. Although visual hierarchy matters, so does making your CTA buttons stand out. 

Key colour takeaways

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to picking colours for branding and marketing, but we must acknowledge that colours can greatly impact perception and decision-making. 

When kicking off a branding project, make sure you spend some time with the client thinking about how you would like the brand to be perceived before diving into the design process. This will help you match colours that align with the brand’s values and industry and those that click with your audiences.

For marketing campaigns, stick to your brand guidelines, but don’t be afraid to step away and experiment with colours – trying a different colour may just boost conversions.

The most effective use of colour in branding and marketing thoughtfully integrates colour psychology, brand identity, and audience preferences. This will create compelling visual strategies that engage customers and drive conversions.

Post author

A true creative at heart, Tom loves using his expertise in design to connect brands with people. He graduated from Bournemouth University with a degree in product design. In 2021, he merged his own design agency with Marketing Labs to create a full-service digital marketing agency.

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