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Jun 5, 2018
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

You might have already learned about how typography influences readers and how people could be influenced through different content formats.

But did it ever occur to you that there is a connection between colors and the reactions you can obtain from your reader, candidates or customer niche?

If this isn’t an aspect you have considered so far, you have to start taking it into account when it comes to your marketing and branding strategies. You no longer have to choose certain colors for a marketing campaign, for example, just because you think they look nice, as you also have in mind the effects they will trigger in the mind of the audience.

Thus, the following information will prove to be more than useful if you want to create a stronger brand and marketing campaigns that will reach their target as planned. So, let us take a closer look at human behavior, perception, and interpretation of colors and how these could help your business thrive.


Conventional psychologists dismiss any role of color in influencing human personality, yet psychiatrists use color tests in conjunction with other tests to determine personality. While physiological responses to colors are part of the human experience, the evidence linking specific colors to specific responses is inconclusive (Kaiser, 1984) (source: Impact of color on marketing).

The purpose of color psychology is to observe the reactions and behaviors triggered by the visual impact of a certain color. Thus, researchers noticed that human emotions and feelings could be influenced, more or less, by the colors that surround them.

Of course, the results differ according to personal beliefs and traditions, so the psychology of the local audience must be known to best interpret these results. As an example, white is seen as a sign of innocence and purity in Western countries while in the East it is a color used for funerals and mourning. In Inuit communities, white is so important that it has 17 words to describe it, each with a different meaning.

In a cross-cultural study, Wiegersma and Van der Elst (1988) found that blue was the most preferred color in general across cultures. Colors have various meanings in different cultures, but some colors, like black, always have a negative connotation associated with it, dating back to 2300 BC.

It would be highly useful to take these details into account as well when creating a color theme for your company’s marketing strategy or if you are choosing the color for your next job advert.

Colors and Human Psychology

But do colors affect human psychology? If yes, how are our mood and state of mind, for instance, affected by colors? Let us take the most important colors and see what kind of emotions they can evoke and which brands have chosen to use them.

  • Yellow – inspires warmth, optimism, brightness, happiness, and can be found in the logos of Nikon, McDonald’s, IKEA, and Shell;
  • Blue – makes people think about strength, reliability, trust, and dependability, and it can be seen in the logos of Dell, HP, Oral-B, Vimeo, Pfizer, Lowe’s, and NASA.
  • Green – inspires peace, health, liveliness, and natural growth, and it is the chosen color of Animal Planet, Tropicana, Spotify, and Range Rover;
  • Orange – is a color that screams out confidence, freshness, friendliness, and joy, and it is used by brands like Amazon, Fanta, Harley-Davidson, and Mozilla Firefox;
  • Red – represents boldness, excitement, and a youthful spirit, and can be seen in logos like Coca-Cola, Virgin, Nintendo, Kmart, CNN, and Lego;
  • Purple – is the color of creativity, of wisdom, and imagination, being used by brands like Yahoo!, Cadbury, Barbie, Taco Bell, and Hallmark;
  • Grey – because it is a neutral color, it inspires calm, tolerance, and equilibrium, being a color preferred in the logos of Apple, Honda, Wikipedia, Puma, and Nike.

There are many studies about colors and their effect on the human mind, but there is one interesting piece of information that caught my attention. The University of Melbourne did a study that shows that seeing green boosts your concentration. Glancing at a grassy green roof for only 40 seconds markedly boosts the concentration of test subjects. The study, published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, showed that looking at an image of nature for less than a minute was all it took to help people perform better on their task. Dr. Lee and her team also did a study of how a greener workplace improves mood and performance.

Also, Dr. Chris Knight from Exeter University found employees were 15 percent more productive when even just a couple of house plants were brought into the office.

Effect of Colors

While the colors we choose won’t trigger miracles, as the reactions they trigger also rely on the personal experiences of each person, they can help a company increase its sales. So, it won’t be in vain to pay a bit of attention to this aspect and choose the right color for the marketing of a product and brand.

According to the Kissmetric, 85% of shoppers place color as a primary reason for why they buy a particular product. Yes, when facing a new product or a variety of products on an aisle, people guide themselves with the help of colors to make the choice that appears to be most suitable for them. Of course, each client will pick the color that appeals most in their case, but the point is that the chosen color will do its job right. And 93% of shoppers place visual appeal above sound, smell, and texture when buying a product.

Colors and Company Brand

It is also estimated that brand recognition increases by 80% with color (source: University of Loyola).

You have to keep in mind that people appreciate more the brands that they can recognize with ease, which makes the chosen color even more important. When you create a new job ad or banner, you need to use a color that will help your brand stand out from the crowd while delivering the message you want to convey and attract customers toward your product.

Thus, you will have to see what colors your competitors are using and opt for an entirely different color, but you should keep using the color that is your company color so people will easily connect the color with your brand. You want people to know which brand is yours and which is your competitor’s.

After all, it would be a shame if people applied for a job advertised by your competitor thinking that they were applying to your ad and the other way around. Yes, choosing the right color can be a challenge, but you need to so that people will buy your product or apply for your job.

When choosing brand colors, it’s important to consider brand personality based on what color suits the characteristics of your product/company.

That’s why is important to know that the personality of a brand is made out of several traits, as pointed out by Professor Jennifer Aaker, who teaches at Stanford and is a psychologist as well. Thus, there is sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication, and ruggedness. Of course, a brand can reflect more than one of these traits, but, as a general rule, they are usually governed by one main trait.

When creating the personality of your brand, it is always best to convey what you think it transmits, rather than just going with the flow and doing what others do.

Just like the traits, which can be multiple, colors can also have a variety of meanings. For example, green is considered suitable for products that are natural, promote good health or are related to the outdoors, but it can also represent money and financial services, for example.

The main point is that you shouldn’t be limited to going in one single direction when it comes to choosing the right color for your brand and products. As long as you have a color that is different from the ones used by your competitors, manages to stir the reactions you want it to stir, at least to a large percentage of your customers, and fits your brand’s profile and personality, then the color you chose is right, even if it doesn’t fit with the stereotypes.


Even if color psychology still needs more research and studies, we cannot disregard the importance of colors in our lives. We see colors, and we love them, each one of them giving us a particular feeling and state of mind. If you use this aspect in your marketing strategies and the presentation of your brand and products, you will significantly increase your rate of success.

If you thought that choosing colors for your business was something random, now you have something to think about. Use the way people perceive and react to colors in favor of your company, and you will not regret doing so. Numbers are already showing that we are more prone to buying the products that appear most appealing to us. Thus, if you know the customer niche your brand addresses, then you will manage to find the color that is most attractive in their eyes. The right color will also help you to raise the number of applicants for your jobs or number of readers of your posts and articles.

Don’t forget that not everybody can see colors in the same way. That’s why colors can have a different impact on people.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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