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Understanding color theory for marketing can help you position your brand as a source of happiness, calm, or luxury without using a single wordthe psychological power of color is immense.

“One time as a child I was holding paint samples in front my cat; when I held up a red one he would stop purring and swat the sample, but when I held up the blue one he was instantly calm; that cycled continued no matter what order or for how long I held up each sample. Can colors really have that much effect on consumers and even your pets? The short answer is absolutely.”

Color Choice is More Than a Preference

When picking colors for your brand it’s important to think beyond your favorite colors. Even though chartreuse may be your favorite color for a shirt or lounge chair, color theory for marketing tells us it may not look great on a website or even in your workspace.

Unpacking Color Theory for Marketing


Energy, War, Danger, Strength, Power, Love, Lust, Determination

Good for a business that wants to…
-Sell food
-Make Bold Statements
-Involve Risk

What to keep in mind when using it:
Red can signify danger and often increases respiration and human metabolism. (Hence its use in lots of fast food restaurants.)

Try to compliment it with a softer color- like yellow or white, to balance out reds boldness and energetic presence.


Enthusiasm, Happiness, Creativity, Success, Stimulation, Confidence

Good for a business that wants to…
-Sell Food
-Require physical activity
-Spark Enthusiasm

What to keep in mind when using it:
Orange combines red’s sense of danger and energy yet also carries yellow’s happiness and creativity; which causes it to have two very distinct sides.

For example, a caution cone signifies danger, yet a lot of sports teams use it because of its energy carrying qualities and good vibed nature.

If you do decide to adopt orange as a brand color keep it minimal as to not overwhelm your followers.


Joy, Happiness, Intellect, Energy, Attention, Logic

Good for a business that wants to…
-Grab Attention (Construction)
-think “Fast” (Sprint, Ferrari)
-Evoke Joy

What to keep in mind when using it:
Yellow is often used by fast food companies in combination with red to represent the speed of their service, but too much yellow can evoke anxiety so be sure to keep this one as an accent color.


Nature, Growth, Harmony, Fresh, Fertility, Calming

Good for a business that wants to…
-Act Sustainably
-Inspire Wealth
-Promote Cleanliness

What to keep in mind when using it:
Beware of greenwashing! This is using terms like “green” and “natural” paired with earthy colors like green and brown to inspire a sense of sustainability and give the illusion of a natural product when in fact there is nothing organic or sustainable about them at all.


Trust, Commitment, Loyalty, Luxury, Wisdom, Communication

Good for a business that wants to…
-Connect (Social Media)
-Appear Rare

What to keep in mind when using it:
Blue is here to stay. It’s the color of dependability and trust and is said to be the favorite color among men. If you decide to use blue in your branding be sure to pick the right shade.

For example, look at your favorite social media platforms they are blue, but they are different shades and as a consumer you react differently to each one. You can bet the major platforms have spent a hefty chunk of time and money making color theory for marketing work for them.


Power, Nobility, Luxury, Creativity, Mystery

Good for a business that wants to…
-Appear Sacred
-Appear Valuable

What to keep in mind when using it:
Purple can be a hard color to work with, it combines the energy of red and the calmness of blue and even though it associates with sacredness and value those emotions can come across as cocky.

Apply Color Theory to Your Branding

Don’t assume that those 6 colors are all that you have to work with, as color theory for marketing suggests, there are hundreds of thousands of possible color combinations that will greatly shift the meaning of each color. If you add more yellow to your blue it may become playful, but if your yellow is to bright you may start to represent warning instead of playfulness.

Pick the right colors from the start: Use color wheel resources and research more of the symbolic power of the colors you’re considering implementing in your brand marketing. Make sure that you heavily consider color theory for marketing, with all its psychological implications, before making changes to your business collateral that could drastically change how your audience responds.