We may not be consciously aware of it at all times, but the colors that surround us can have a profound effect on our emotional well-being. Although there is some debate over the exact psychological effects, it is widely accepted that the color scheme you choose to represent your brand makes an emotional statement to your customers, and it’s vital to the success of your overall branding to make the right statement about your business or organization.

Choosing The Right Colors

An important concept in color theory is the “60-30-10 Rule,” which states that a color scheme should have three colors and the colors should be used 60%, 30% and 10% of the time. As you can probably imagine, the color you choose to use 60% of the time will come to represent your business to potential and existing customers and the public at large. So how do you choose the correct color to represent your business, and what shade of that color should you use? Does choosing a dark green over a light green really make that big of a difference?

Understanding Popular Colors

In order to help you decide what “60%” color you should choose for your color scheme, we have compiled a short list of popular colors with a brief summary of what branding experts believe to be the corresponding emotions conveyed through the use of that color. For more information on the emotions evoked by a specific color, check out our blog post on the branding power of color schemes.

Red: Passion, Appetite, Urgency

Red is the color of love, war, power, passion, strength, and as many like to point out, the color of fire and blood. An energizing and stimulating color, too much red can cause risk taking, irritation and even anger.

Many businesses utilize the color red to create a sense of urgency among shoppers intent on finding bargains, and restaurants utilize red to stimulate their customer’s appetites. Some of the more prominent companies that use the color red in their primary branding are McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Target and (RED).

Yellow: Warmth, Youth, Fun

In many cultures around the world, the color yellow represents the sun, and naturally it conveys feelings of fun and cheerfulness. However, like staring into the sun, staring at the color yellow for prolonged periods of time can result in eye strain and fatigue. And although it is popular color with children and is associated with youth, it is also known to cause distress in babies. Yellow is often used in marketing and advertising to attract attention, but it is also associated with caution and warnings.

Restaurants and food and beverage producers commonly utilize the color yellow in branding, and retailers, technology and energy companies use it as well. Some prominent companies that use yellow in their branding are Best Buy, Sprint, McDonald’s and Hertz.

Green: Health, Wealth, Growth

Green is the most relaxing color for the human eye and it is a color often used to represent health, vitality, and wealth. Green is used in both retail and office spaces to encourage relaxation, and it is a color most often associated with growth and fertility. Green is also interpreted as a safe color – in both stop lights and directions, green means go!

In marketing and branding, darker shades of green are often associated with money and real estate, while lighter shades are utilized by environmentalists, natural/organic food producers, and retailers. Some companies that use green in their branding include Whole Foods, Starbucks, John Deere and Tropicana.

Blue: Calm, Productive, Secure

Blue is historically known as a “cold” color, and in many cultures it is automatically associated with both the sky and the ocean. Blue has been associated with trust, calmness, productivity, serenity, and can instill a sense of perpetuity.

Blue is an extremely popular color in business branding, although it is less popular with restaurants because it is known to curb the appetite. Some prominent brands that primary use blue are General Electric, Ford, Facebook, Dell and American Express.