A lot of small businesses don’t really think about the importance of colours, and their meanings, when they choose to design their logo, or in the creation of their website.  But colour can have a powerful influence over how we feel about something.  Some businesses have known about this for a long time, and their colour has burned their brand into our brains.

  1. What brand do you think of when you mix “blue and red”?
  2. What brand do you think of when you mix “red and yellow”?
  3. How bout “green and white”?

Scroll to the bottom for MY answers, but the point is, if your answer didn’t even come close to mine, the point is, you were probably able to think of A brand anyway, irrelevant of the brand.

Also we need to take into account that colours have different meanings in different countries and cultures.

So let’s have a look into the meaning of colours, and what this says about you, and what this communicates to your customers:

Blue

  • often associated with depth and stability
  • symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, and truth
  • tranquility and calmness

Red

  • means energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire, and love
  • very emotionally intense colour
  • commonly associated with energy

Yellow

  • associated with joy, happiness, intellect, and energy
  • often associated with food
  • if overused, yellow may have a disturbing effect

White

  • associated with light, goodness, innocence, and purity
  • considered to be the colour of perfection
  • associated with coolness and cleanliness

Black

  • associated with power, elegance, formality, death, evil, and mystery
  • denotes strength and authority
  • considered to be a very formal, elegant, and prestigious color

Green

  • the colour of nature symbolizing growth, harmony, freshness, and fertility
  • has great healing power and is the most restful color for the human eye
  • directly related to nature, so you can use it to promote ‘green’ products

Grey

  • conservative color and good for use as a background colour
  • Security, maturity, reliability, composed, intelligence and modesty
  • Neutral, non-committal, and cold sophisticated

Orange

  • associated with joy, sunshine, and the tropics
  • represents enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, and stimulation
  • has a high acceptance amongst the younger market segment

Brown

  • creates a neutral, comfortable and open atmosphere
  • communicates credibility, solidity, strength and maturity
  • Calming, stress reducing, earthy, natural, kind, non-assertive, and passive

Purple

  • combines the stability of blue and the energy of red
  • symbolizes power, nobility, luxury, and ambition
  • associated with wisdom, dignity, independence, creativity, mystery, and magic

My Answers:

1. Pepsi     2. McDonalds     3. Starbucks

(ps. what is it about the big brands in America being so good at colour marketing?)

16 comments

  1. Great post! I think it’s so important to be aware of these things, and especially on our professional sites. Thanks for the rundown on colors! I really found this helpful, thanks again.

    1. Hi Angela, True, professionals sometimes just are not aware of the impression that colours can give. I guess I should add “pink” as well, just for your website – Pink is a quiet colour, representing happiness, romance, love, friendship, femininity, truth, passive, good will, emotional healing, peace, calming, affection, emotional maturity, caring, and delicacy. Seems to fit 😉 Great choice of colour for your topic 🙂

  2. Great post Fiona,
    Colours are so important and as you say, mean different things in different countries/cultures.
    When I was a brand manager years ago we were told not to use blue or green when producing marketing material that was to be used in Scotland (if you don’t know why, email me …)

    best wishes

    Rob H

    1. @Rob H, Thanks Rob, that’s strange about the blue/ green Scotland rule… I am curious… I see your website and blog use a lot of grey, with a pinch of blue. That’s funny and I wonder if it is intentional for you to use a lot of grey – which is the neutral colour, and the mix of black and white – kinda representing being in the middle 🙂 ??? And your website is about the MID Life Opportunity ??? 🙂

      1. @Fiona McEachran, Hi again Fiona. The answer to the ‘colours in Scotland’ issue has to do with religion. Blue and Green are both associated with different religions.
        My http://www.midlifeop.com website is a holding page so the colours are temporary. However, the actual site will have similar colours – more blues and less grey. Blue, for me, is a strong colour that shows depth, as you say, and reliability!

        best wishes

        Rob H

        1. @Rob H, Hi again Rob, ahhhh, thanks for satisfying my curiosity on the Scotland issue. Hmmm, the new site sounds exciting – – – you’ll have to let me know when it’s up and running 🙂

  3. Thanks for the heads up on using color on our sites. We sometimes tend to just use colors that WE like. Need to always think about the customer! Informative post 🙂

    1. Hi Martha, Yes, I think some people do just choose subconsciously a colour that represents how they feel, or would like to feel. I see your website is a shade of dark blue, grey and white. Blue – depth, stability, education. Grey – security, maturity, reliability. White – light, goodness, innocence, and purity. Yet I love your photo with the reddy/ pink/ apricot blouse. Gives the impression of a colourful, passionate and expressive person with a cool, steady head for marketing and business… Just a thought 🙂 Or maybe you just like those colours…. 😉

  4. It is true I knew about color influence as I set up my sites. When I tried to get away from blue my mind went “tilt ” I did make a website for a lawn care company. I followed my heart and made it the green tones. The owner loves it and is now ramping up his company because of how he sees that his new website will cause lots of growth and not just the grass!

    What I lked about your information was the blending of color influence. I plan to spend longer here than just a quick 2 minute read. You are makin’ me study girl!! Thought I was done with all t.hat

    1. @Tony Denson, Hi Tony, Yes it’s true our natural subconscious colour preferences tend to shine through when it comes to creating something that represents us, and / or our business. But in a strange way, I think that’s a good thing, as it shows a little piece of exactly who we are.

      I really appreciate it that you think my blog is a good read… Makes it all worth while …. 🙂

  5. Hi Fiona,

    I really enjoyed your post and do believe the colors you choose for your web site or blog are meaningful and important.

    And, btw, I love the colors on your blog here. Particularly the background color. Rich, elegant and exciting all at the same time. Makes me feel good. Nice choice!

    1. @Deb Augur, Hi Deb, Thanks for backing me up on this 😉 and thanks for your feedback on my site colour. I did a lot of research before choosing the colour, so Im glad it makes a good impression.

      You seem to have a nice blend of red, white, and grey – passion, purity and reliability perhaps? 😉

  6. Great post. Color is very important and we often don’t think about it. If we only knew! Thank you for the reminder and the education in colors.

    Blessings, Mary Pat

    1. @Mary Pat, Hi Mary Pat, Thanks for stopping by my blog. Glad to help out with the colour education 🙂

      I see your blog is blue and white – stability, intelligence and purity? 🙂

  7. Super interesting post, Fiona!

    Well, I definitely learned something here today. I had no idea that “orange” appeals to the “younger” segment of the marketing population.

    My favorite color has always been Blue. I like a lot of the other colors, too, but I tend to always find a way to include blue in anything that requires a color choice.

    And although I enjoy the sunshine, I really don’t care for yellow at all! Not sure why. I had a real estate agent friend of mine tell me that a house painted yellow will sell FASTER than any other color.

    Melanie
    #blog30

    1. @Melanie Kissell, Thanks Melanie. Yes, I was surprised in my research too about orange. And with yellow, I read once that “yellow causes anxiety” and it kinda stuck with me. I think the best place for yellow is the sun. 😉

      I see your website is green and taupe, and a little bit blue – growth, harmony, strength, maturity, trust and intelligence? 🙂

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