By: Mihaela Lica

Color Psychology and Branding

Color is probably one of the most powerful psychological tools and we are often not even aware of its power. If you didn't know it by now, the industrial psychology has a special field that studies the in-depth psychology of color.

Color is a very important factor in online branding, not solely for logos, but for web graphics in general. A simple shade of red could either send a good, positive message or generate an aggressive state of mind. To put it clear: color drives emotions and emotions are the most important factor in decision-making.

Color psychology is rather hard to define when we consider cultural differences, personal beliefs and subjective meanings. But some general aspects might help you in choosing the right colors for online branding.

First of all for a business website you should avoid dark backgrounds, especially black. It is true that dark backgrounds, when used wisely, might create a "charmed" atmosphere, but is this the message you want to send? Shouldn't you be focusing on "reliability", "trustworthiness", "quality" and other such positive values? For a business website, avoid the "Twilight Zone" look and feel, unless you sell magic potions, books of mystery or other such products.

Light backgrounds are the best choice to create uncluttered layouts. This is also the latest trend in web design. The "heavy" websites of the past, with their saturated colors, their marble tiles patterns and their stripped backgrounds are pass�. Sophisticated designs employ light colors with random dark hue accents, simple layouts and high quality, unique graphics that match the color scheme of the design.

Logos should still employ powerful, recognizable colors, the kind of colors that capture attention and appeal to the senses.

Usually, blue logos don't fail because blue is the favorite color of a clear majority of people. A look at the clear blue sky would help your body produce the chemicals you need to relax. But when it comes to dark blues, too much might cause stress and nervous tension. Commonly logo designers use navy blue for business-to-business logos, for financial logos and for official logos, as this color suggests dependability and straightforwardness, precisely the values needed for such affairs.

Green, in its various shades, is perfect for the hospitality industry, food industry (especially for BIO products) cosmetic (if we consider Yves Rocher and Garnier) and ecology.

Although each color has its audience and its industry, there are cases when one color might be successfully employed for atypical applications. It's just a matter of "how to" design using that color and other hues to create the best color combination.

Reds and orange are not so easy to deal with, especially online. But they do have their fans (Ferrari, Coca-Cola, etc) and with a good design they will reach the targeted audience faster than other colors. That's because red is the color of energy, movement and excitement.

Well, I didn't write this entry to teach you "how to use colors". Obviously I am not a designer, so I have some shortcomings when it comes to "how to". But knowing the basic-general rules has been really useful in my job. And if you want to make the most out of online branding and online PR you should know them too. I suggest you perform a short online research and read more color-psychology related articles.

The Color Symbolism from Wikipedia is not bad.

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