In an ideal world, logic and rationale alone would help us decide what brands we like. But brands use techniques including color to override rational thinking and appeal to our emotions, our memories and sense of self. Here are 15 colors that brands use to make you buy stuff.
The color red is said to inspire confidence, passion and excitement, which makes it perfect for The Virgin Group. Virgin’s core businesses are travel, entertainment and lifestyle, but it also manages financial services, transportation, health care, food and drink, media and telecommunications with more than 400 companies worldwide. People see that bold red hue and feel inspired to buy an airline ticket for an adventure.
Green is, naturally, symbolic of the environment. It also signifies universal love. The color is often used by brands hoping to appeal to a young and/or environmentally and socially conscious group. Starbucks, Whole Foods, and Green Giant are a few brands that use green.
Purple is supposed to signify luxury and indulgence, making it great for chocolate companies like Cadbury. The color is also meant to instill a feeling of respect and wisdom, which may or may not be why brands such Durex use it on their condom wrappers.
Light purple is supposed to instill feelings of nostalgia, which could be why Swiss chocolate Milka — a brand that markets itself as simple and traditional — uses it.
Greenish-blue aqua, a variation of cyan, signifies logic, security and tranquility. Tiffany’s uses it on all the boxes holding their pricey little pieces. It’s also meant to curb the appetite — or at least give the impression of such — which could be why it’s used in frozen yogurt shops such as Bliss yogurts.
Dark blue is meant to communicate stability, power and seriousness. Kraft uses dark blue on its Mac ‘n Cheese products, perhaps to establish itself as a stable company that has been present for decades.
Yellow is a happy color, and one of the easiest to see during the day. McDonald’s uses yellow in their big M to signify they’re a fun, upbeat place, as does Subway in their logo. Yellow also signifies caution. It’s often the color of road signs. Bring a sense of anxiety to an upbeat environment, and you may be able to get customers to make impulse purchases.
Orange is meant to show that a brand is playful and doesn’t take itself too seriously. FedEx uses orange and purple in its logo, so it instills a sense of fun while making you feel like you’re getting a high-end service from the luxury in the purple.
Red-orange represents our more carnal traits such as desire, aggression and thirst for action. The Firefox browser uses it on their logo of a fox who happens to be encompassing a globe. Mastercard uses it in their logo as well — perhaps to make its holders feel powerful.
Light pink instills a sense of caring, nurturing and femininity — perfect for young girls. Brands like Bubble Yum and Barbie use light pink.
Bolder pinks, like those used by Victoria’s Secret, signify femininity in its more sensual form. Olay puts many of its creams in a bold pink jar, and targets mature women.
Brown is supposed to instill feelings of safety and comfort, which is why it’s an obvious choice for companies such as UPS. But if you look at the counters of many luxury stores such as jewelry or expensive chocolate shops, you’ll notice the products are often displayed in cases over brown upholstery. Luxury brands benefit from instilling a sense of comfort in customers who are about to spend a lot of money.
The color gray can be used to signify a sense of community and solidarity. You’ll notice vodka brands such as Grey Goose have mostly gray bottles, making the consumer feel like he or she is a part of a community by choosing that brand. You might spot gray throw blankets on beds in hotels that market themselves as practical rather than luxurious.
White can be read as a blank canvas that gives you freedom to be creative. You’ll notice the Google landing page is just the word Google on a big, white background. See’s Candy Stores are mostly white as well, perhaps to make the consumer feel serene instead of guilty before consuming tons of sugar.
Black is used to signify exclusivity and glamour, so it’s often used by high-end brands such as Bloom Fine Jewelry and Chanel. The color is also meant to give the impression of authority. You might notice car commercials often feature a black model.
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