Branding and Color Associations

Color is powerful.

Research says that color can affect our mood, behavior and stress levels. Some researchers say that colors affect us because of the associations they have in the real world. For instance, blue is almost always related to blue skies. Blue skies make us feel good because they remind us of being kids and playing outdoors.

Color has been studied for decades, and while it isn’t always clear why we have the associations we do, there’s no denying that color has an impact on mood and behavior. For this reason, brands have paid very close attention to color and their use of it.

Knowing the effect that color can have on people, is it possible to influence a person’s perception of a particular brand using color? Can color make a person more likely to follow through with a desired action? The answers: Definitely yes.

Apple Night Shift

Apple recently introduced a new feature called Night Shift into its mobile operating system. The feature gives screens a yellowish tint as the nighttime hours roll in as opposed to the bluish tint the screens have during the daytime.

Apple knew what it was doing with this feature, as they studied the Circadian Rhythm and how the body knows when to wake, sleep and eat. The purpose of the blue tone is to tell the body that it’s daytime and time to be awake, while the yellow tone tells the body that it’s time for sleep. Pretty impressive.

Knowing that color affects how people feel, let’s explore some of the most common color associations that we as humans have. Use this information as a guide when adding color to your brand!


Have you ever noticed that the fast food industry mostly uses yellow? Yellow is meant to entice our appetites, as many of our favorite foods are yellow: cheese, corn on the cob, bananas, lemon, egg yolk – you name it! Some of the most well-known fast food chains that use yellow include McDonald’s, Subway, Burger King and Denny’s. Yellow is also used by non-food brands (Best Buy, IKEA, Shell, Snapchat) to convey friendliness.


Red carries a sense of urgency, and it’s also a hue that encourages passion, awareness and higher energy levels. Red is used by all types of brands, from food and beverage manufacturers to entertainment companies. Some of the ones that do red best include Coca-Cola, Target, Old Spice, TLC and Red Bull.


Blue is a rather complex color. It has mood-altering effects that range from calm and serene to sadness and sorrow. Then there’s the various shades of blue such as baby blue (childhood and innocence) and dark navy blue (sophisticated and sober). What blue has in common across the board is that it’s stable, calm, serious and trustworthy. Some of our favorite brands that use blue in their marketing include Samsung, Skype, Twitter, Ford, Dell and GE.


Mix yellow and red together, and what do you get: orange! Orange gives off the vibe of being passionate, enthusiastic and lively. It’s also a refreshing color, probably because when we see orange, it reminds us of a juicy orange packed with Vitamin C! Some of the brands that use orange best include Nickelodeon, Amazon, Home Depot, FedEx and Fanta.


Green conveys friendliness and dependability, which are good things to give off in the marketing world. People like doing business with brands they can trust and depend on, and green also makes people feel connected or part of something bigger. That’s probably because green is associated with growth and health (i.e., green trees, green grass). Brands that use green in their logos include BP, Whole Foods, Tropicana, Animal Planet, Starbucks and Spotify.


One more color we would like to touch on is purple – the beautiful color combination of red and blue. Purple combines passion and sobriety to give off the impression of wealth, quality, creativity and fantasy. Others suggest that purple is wise and imaginative. It’s not always an easy color to pull off because of its feminine qualities, but brands that have managed to do it successfully are Yahoo, Hallmark, Welch’s, Taco Bell and Barbie.


It’s amazing to think that color can make us sad, happy, hungry, alert, at ease and more. But the reality is that it can, so it’s important to always think about the colors you’re using in your marketing as they can have a tremendous effect on what people purchase, follow and share. By using the right combination of colors, you can make your brand more friendly and approachable while also encouraging people to stick around and feel secure in choosing your product or service.