Heart with word cloud showing terms associated with the colour red

Choosing the right colour for your logo and branding is easy when you know a little about colour psychology.


 Red 
Red can sometimes be overwhelming as it provokes strong emotions, yet it works very well as an accent colour. Red is often used to attract impulse buyers.


Positive associations: enthusiasm, heat, power, excitement, speed, love.
Negative associations: war, aggression, cruelty, immorality, anger, danger.


Across the globe
Red is the colour of luck, prosperity, marriage and happiness in most of Asia. In South Africa it represents mourning. In France, masculinity.


Trivia

  • Most auto thefts involve red cars.

  • Red is the most visually dominant colour, which can inspire people to take risks.

  • Red increases heart rate and appetite.

 


 Yellow 
Brighter than white, yellow is the first colour the human eye will see. Be careful though, it can be fatiguing and may irritate the eye.

 

Positive associations: idealism, optimism, intellect, radiance, sunshine, joy.
Negative associations: deceit, caution, anxiety, irrationality, cowardice.


Across the globe
The colour of mourning in Egypt and Burma, yellow is associated with merchants and farmer s in India. While in the west it’s connected with cowardice, the opposite is true in Japan where it symbolises courage.

 

Trivia

  • Yellow can stimulate the nervous system and is a joyous colour – yet a yellow room will make a baby cry, according to researchers and parents. 

  • Yellow can enhance concentration, as evidenced by the use of the colour on legal note pads.


 Blue 
Representing reliability, blue is perhaps the world’s most popular colour. An apt choice if you want to promote trust, especially the darker shades of blue.

 

Positive associations: Earth, safe, calm, sky, sea, knowledge.
Negative associations: detachment, depression, apathy, aloofness, snobbery, cold.

 

Across the globe 
‘Blue is for boys’ in most of the world, except China where it’s the colour for little girls. It’s the colour of mourning in Iran and the colour of love in western bridal traditions. It’s the most popular corporate colour across the globe.

 

Trivia

  • Echoing its corporate personality, blue features in the logos of some of the leading social media brands, including Facebook and Twitter.

  • Blue food is rare in nature and the colour is regarded as an appetite suppressant. Tell that to Oreo...


 Purple 
Purple takes something of red’s warm energy and mixes it with the cool and calm of blue. With more red in the mix, purple becomes warmer. With more blue, cooler. Often used for beauty and anti-aging products.

 

Positive associations: Inspiration, royalty, rank, mysticism, spirituality, luxury, wisdom.
Negative associations: madness, sadness, frustration, excess, exaggeration.

 

Across the globe
In Latin America, purple is used to indicate death, while in Thailand it’s worn by widows to indicate that they’re in mourning.

 

Trivia

  • In olden times, purple dyes were expensive, so purple clothing was only worn by royalty and the wealthy.

  • Purple can enhance imagination and is a great choice for a kid’s room.


 

 Green 
Green is the easiest colour on the eyes and a hard one to go wrong with. Suitable for health, natural and financial brands.

 

Positive associations: fertility, health, youth, environment, nature, honesty, money, healing, growth, success.
Negative associations: poison, envy, inexperience, nausea, greed.

 

Across the globe
Green is associated with Ireland and also with Islam, representing Paradise. Green is linked with volition in Native American cultures.

Trivia

  • Although they don’t appear on the Australian flag, green and gold are the national colours of Australia, as inspired by the country’s floral emblem, the Golden Wattle.

  • As green is the easiest colour on the eyes, it’s used to calm people (think the ‘green room’ where guests wait before a television appearance). 

  • Represents a clear path – to get the ‘green light’.


 Black 
Black makes other colours appear brighter. Being neutral, it works with any colour and despite negative associations, it’s an excellent choice to convey style and elegance.


Positive associations: formality, elegance, sophistication, power, mystery, night.
Negative associations: fear, evil, death, negativity, secrecy, villains, emptiness, remorse


Across the globe 
In Asia, black is generally associated with knowledge and career as well as mourning and penance. In the west, it is the colour of mourning. In China, it’s the colour for boys.

 

Trivia

  • Black is said to boost confidence and strength.

  • In the west, black is the colour most associated with bad things – blackmail, black hold, blacklist. 

  • Associated with evil and sinister characters yet also with sophistication. 

  • Technically, black is not a colour but the absence of colour.


Illustration by Annie.