The Meaning of Colors

Often with branding color will be the single most recognizable thing about a particular brand. For instance, I’m willing to bed that most people off the top of their head will be able to tell you what color the Coca-cola logo is, what color a walmart building is, and which fast food restaurant is best known for being red and gold.

While these colors can make your business stand out and become recognizable, it is important to think not only of what color will stand out in your industry, but also what that color is telling your customer about you. Many underestimate the power of color on the human psyche. It has been proven that 90% of impulse decisions are decided by color alone, and that your environment can greatly alter which colors a consumer prefers. For instance, people who are cold tend to prefer warm colors while people who are warm tend to prefer cool colors. You can see this in play when looking at seasonal clothing: winter and fall clothing tends to be in dark, warm colors while summer and spring clothing tends to be in light and bright warm colors.

Below is a chart describing general colors, their ‘meaning’ to the popular American mind and common industries they are used in. It is important to note that these connotations are based primarily in a western market, as colors often have vastly different meanings across the world. Take, for instance, China where white is a color of mourning and red is the color of weddings and good luck.

Want an even more in-depth knowledge of the history and meaning of colors? Check out the book The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St Clair. I recommend the physical copy, as the digital version requires an additional PDF of color samples.

Want to learn more about the theory of color? Check out my infographic showing color categories and basic color theory.