August 6, 2013

The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding

The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding

The psychology of color as it relates to persuasion is one of the most interesting—and most controversial—aspects of marketing.

The reason: Most of today’s conversations on colors and persuasion consist of hunches, anecdotal evidence and advertisers blowing smoke about “colors and the mind.”

To alleviate this trend and give proper treatment to a truly fascinating element of human behavior, today we’re going to cover a selection of the most reliable research on color theory and persuasion.

Misconceptions around the Psychology of Color

Why does color psychology invoke so much conversation … but is backed with so little factual data?

As research shows, it’s likely because elements such as personal preference, experiences, upbringing, cultural differences, context, etc., often muddy the effect individual colors have on us. So the idea that colors such as yellow or purple are able to invoke some sort of hyper-specific emotion is about as accurate as your standard Tarot card reading.

The conversation is only worsened by incredibly vapid visuals that sum up color psychology with awesome “facts” such as this one:

Facts about Yellow

Don’t fret, though. Now it’s time to take a look at some research-backed insights on how color plays a role in persuasion.

The Importance of Colors in Branding

First, let’s address branding, which is one of the most important issues relating to color perception and the area where many articles on this subject run into problems.

There have been numerous attempts to classify consumer responses to different individual colors:

Color Emotion GuideSource: The Logo Company

... but the truth of the matter is that color is too dependent on personal experiences to be universally translated to specific feelings.

But there are broader messaging patterns to be found in color perceptions. For instance, colors play a fairly substantial role in purchases and branding.

In an appropriately titled study called Impact of Color in Marketing, researchers found that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone (depending on the product).

And in regards to the role that color plays in branding, results from studies such as The Interactive Effects of Colors show that the relationship between brands and color hinges on the perceived appropriateness of the color being used for the particular brand (in other words, does the color "fit" what is being sold).

The study Exciting Red and Competent Blue also confirms that purchasing intent is greatly affected by colors due to the impact they have on how a brand is perceived. This means that colors influence how consumers view the "personality" of the brand in question (after all, who would want to buy a Harley Davidson motorcycle if they didn’t get the feeling that Harleys were rugged and cool?).

Additional studies have revealed that our brains prefer recognizable brands, which makes color incredibly important when creating a brand identity. It has even been suggested in Color Research & Application that it is of paramount importance for new brands to specifically target logo colors that ensure differentiation from entrenched competitors (if the competition all uses blue, you'll stand out by using purple).

When it comes to picking the “right” color, research has found that predicting consumer reaction to color appropriateness in relation to the product is far more important than the individual color itself.
 So, if Harley owners buy the product in order to feel rugged, you could assume that the pink + glitter edition wouldn't sell all that well.

Psychologist and Stanford professor Jennifer Aaker has conducted studies on this very topic via research on Dimensions of Brand Personality, and her studies have found five core dimensions that play a role in a brand’s personality:

Dimensions of Brand Personality

(Brands can sometimes cross between two traits, but they are mostly dominated by one. High fashion clothing feels sophisticated, camping gear feels rugged.)

Additional research has shown that there is a real connection between the use of colors and customers’ perceptions of a brand’s personality.

Certain colors DO broadly align with specific traits (e.g., brown with ruggedness, purple with sophistication, and red with excitement). But nearly every academic study on colors and branding will tell you that it’s far more important for your brand’s colors to support the personality you want to portray instead of trying to align with stereotypical color associations.

Consider the inaccuracy of making broad statements such as “green means calm.” The context is missing; sometimes green is used to brand environmental issues such as Timberland’s G.R.E.E.N standard, but other times it’s meant to brand financial spaces such as

And while brown may be useful for a rugged appeal (think Saddleback Leather), when positioned in another context brown can be used to create a warm, inviting feeling (Thanksgiving) or to stir your appetite (every chocolate commercial you’ve ever seen).

Bottom line: I can’t offer you an easy, clear-cut set of guidelines for choosing your brand’s colors, but I can assure you that the context you’re working within is an absolutely essential consideration.

It’s the feeling, mood, and image that your brand creates that play a role in persuasion. Be sure to recognize that colors only come into play when they can be used to match a brand’s desired personality (i.e., the use of white to communicate Apple’s love of clean, simple design).

Without this context, choosing one color over another doesn't make much sense, and there is very little evidence to support that 'orange' will universally make people purchase a product more often than 'silver'.

Color Preferences by Gender

Perceived appropriateness may explain why the most popular car colors are white, black, silver and gray … but is there something else at work that explains why there aren’t very many purple power tools?

One of the better studies on this topic is Joe Hallock’s Colour Assignments. Hallock’s data showcases some clear preferences in certain colors across gender.

It’s important to note that one’s environment—and especially cultural perceptions—plays a strong role in dictating color appropriateness for gender, which in turn can influence individual choices. Consider, for instance, this coverage by Smithsonian magazine detailing how blue became the color for boys and pink was eventually deemed the color for girls (and how it used to be the reverse!).

Here were Hallock’s findings for the most and least favorite colors of men and women:

Men’s Favorite Colors

Male Favorite Colors

Women’s Favorite Colors

Female Favorite Colors

Men’s Least Favorite Colors

Male Least Favorite Colors

Women’s Least Favorite Colors

Female Least Favorite Colors

The most notable points in these images is the supremacy of blue across both genders (it was the favorite color for both groups) and the disparity between groups on purple. Women list purple as a top-tier color, but no men list purple as a favorite color. (Perhaps this is why we have no purple power tools, a product largely associated with men?)

Additional research in studies on color perception and color preferences show that when it comes to shades, tints and hues men seem to prefer bold colors while women prefer softer colors. Also, men were more likely to select shades of colors as their favorites (colors with black added), whereas women were more receptive to tints of colors (colors with white added):

Men prefer bright colors, Women prefer soft colors

Shades vs. TintsSource: KISSmetrics

The above infographic from KISSmetrics showcases the disparity in men and women's color preferences.

Keep this information in mind when choosing your brand’s primary color palette. Given the starkly different taste preferences shown, it pays to appeal more to men or women if they make up a larger percentage of your ideal buyers.

Color Coordination + Conversions

Debunking the “best” color for conversion rates on websites has recently been a very popular topic (started here and later here). They make some excellent points, because it is definitely true that there is no single best color for conversions.

The psychological principle known as the Isolation Effect states that an item that "stands out like a sore thumb" is more likely to be remembered. Research clearly shows that participants are able to recognize and recall an item far better (be it text or an image) when it blatantly sticks out from its surroundings.

Isolation Effect

(The sign-up button stands out because it's like a red "island" in a sea of blue.)

The studies Aesthetic Response to Color Combinations and Consumer Preferences for Color Combinations also find that while a large majority of consumers prefer color patterns with similar hues, they favor palettes with a highly contrasting accent color.

In terms of color coordination (as highlighted in this KISSmetrics graphic), this would mean creating a visual structure consisting of base analogous colors and contrasting them with accent complementary colors (or you can use tertiary colors):

Analagous Colors vs. Triadic ColorsSource: KISSmetrics

Another way to think of this is to utilize background, base and accent colors to create a hierarchy (as Josh from StudioPress showcases below) on your site that “coaches” customers on which color means take action:

Background, Base and Accent ColorsSource: StudioPress

Why this matters: Although you may start to feel like an interior decorator after reading this section, this stuff is actually incredibly important in helping you understand the why behind conversion jumps and slumps. As a bonus, it will help keep you from drinking the conversion rate optimization Kool-Aid that misleads so many people.

Consider, for instance, this often-cited example of a boost in conversions due to a change in button color:

Conversion Example from Performable

The button change to red boosted conversions by 21 percent, but that doesn’t mean that red holds some sort of magic power to get people to take action.

Take a closer look at the image: It’s obvious that the rest of the page is geared toward a green palette, which means a green call to action simply blends in with the surroundings. Red, meanwhile, provides a stark visual contrast (and is a complementary color to green).

We find additional evidence of the isolation effect in a myriad of multivariate tests, including this one conducted by Paras Chopra and published in Smashing magazine. Chopra was testing to see how he could get more downloads for his PDFProducer program, and included the following variations in his test:

Testing variations for PDFProducer

Can you guess which combination performed the best? (Hint: remember, contrast is important.)

Here were the results:

Results from PDFProducer test

As you can see, example #10 outperformed the others by a large margin. It’s probably not a coincidence that it creates the most contrast out of all of the examples. You’ll notice that the PDFProducer text is small and light gray in color, but the action text (“Download for Free”) is large and red, creating the contrast needed for high conversions.

While this is but one study of many, the isolation effect should be kept in mind when testing color palettes to create contrast in your web design and guide people to important action areas.

Why We Love “Mocha” but Hate “Brown”

Although different colors can be perceived in different ways, the names of those colors matters as well!

According to this study, when subjects were asked to evaluate products with different color names (such as makeup), “fancy” names were preferred far more often. For example, mocha was found to be significantly more likeable than brown—despite the fact that the researchers showed subjects the same color!

Additional research finds that the same effect applies to a wide variety of products; consumers rated elaborately named paint colors as more pleasing to the eye than their simply named counterparts.

It has also been shown that more unusual and unique color names can increase the intent to purchase. For instance, jelly beans with names such as razzmatazz were more likely to be chosen than jelly beans names such as lemon yellow. This effect was also found in non-food items such as sweatshirts.

As strange as it may seem, choosing creative, descriptive and memorable names to describe certain colors (such as “sky blue” over “light blue”) can be an important part of making sure the color of the product achieves its biggest impact.

Your Turn

I only have one question for you to discuss:

Which one of these studies was most surprising to you?

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you down in the comments!


Written by Gregory Ciotti Greg ciotti

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Scott Nixon Jul 17

Who ever listed Monster Energy drinks as peace or healthy has lot their damn mind; so this helps support Gregory's statement under the graphic.

I found the colors by gender to be the most interesting especially the shades and tints aspect. I love purple so it's quite surprising that it's not even listed. My wife also hates when I wear orange.

Will Hoekenga Jul 17

This is the first article on color in marketing that hasn't made me want to scream. Awesome job!

Manas Jul 17

This article will help a lot if young designers, thanks!

Mia Lopez Jul 17

I am no designer, and getting leads to convert through online marketing in the dental field has proved to be very challenging. This is a very helpful article. Thanks for posting!

Brian Jul 17

There's a lot of great info here, but it would be great if you could redo the 3d pie charts as some other kind of chart that wasn't so distorted and hard to read. Pie charts are not known for being easy to read accurately to begin with, and adding a 3d effect to non-3d data only hurts.

For example, there are five "1%" slices in these charts. One is 12 pixels wide, one is 11 px, one is 6 px, one is 5 px, and one is so skinny it is literally 0 px wide (two black lines next to each other).

You criticize the "incredibly vapid visuals that sum up color psychology" but then copy Hallock’s terrible charts exactly.

Mark Jul 17

I thought the #4 pdf download button would have been the winner, although #10 cheated a bit by adding "for free."

Which one did you select as your first choice?

Gregory Ciotti Jul 17

@Brian -- Thanks man, although my use of vapid there wasn't to denote them as "poorly designed."

As for using Hallock's charts, they are his data sets, I would need to contact him first before I felt comfortable making any substantial aesthetic changes. Since they simply served to show general trends of color preference, I didn't feel that was necessary this time around.


Abigail Jul 17

I found the gender study interesting. I'll have to look at the study to see sample sizes and methods etc, because I was surprised by the results. For example, "pink" wasn't anywhere in the charts, and I know lots of women who love pink. Perhaps the study subjects were given a controlled list to choose from, rather than a fill in the blank? My favorite color used to be coral (An orangey pink), and now it's royal purple, with dove gray and moss green as close seconds. The hue matters to me. I'm not a fan of lilac, steel gray, or sea foam green, for example. I don't think I'm alone in my color discrimination... So these results seemed simplistic to me.
Anyway, I ramble. Good article!

Gregory Ciotti Jul 17

@Abigail -- Great point, but the study you mention only asked the participants to choose between 8 colors (I believe primary + secondary with black, white, and brown, if I recall correctly).

That's why you won't see anyone choosing pink.

Deirdre Jul 17

The study that most surprised me as a female, graphic designer and fiber artist is the conclusion that men prefer
brighter colors, and women prefer softer colors, or, according to the diagram, less saturated colors. As you point out (and this is so important) the context of the project and social conditioning and culture are all integral to how color is perceived. What men may prefer in advertising/branding may be different from the way they might choose their clothing, for instance. They may identify with a "bolder" message for a product or service, but never
choose a bright ensemble for work. Women are given
more cultural permission to express themselves with color
in their clothing, especially in a business settting (hence the prevalence of the one acceptable "businessman blue".) :-)
As you say, how the color communicates the feeling or
"personality" of the object is what matters most, because
we react to color on a primal, sometimes subconsicous level. Thanks for the article!

Leif Jul 17

Surprising to me is the broad categorization of colors into certain meanings, where brand personality is involved. I really like how you addressed the depth behind the concept - it's not a simple chart but instead takes context into account, heavily.

Great article!

Fabio Dantas Jul 17

I guess the most surprising study is the most preferable color by gender. I was expecting some men with purple preferences.

Anyway, the fact that fancy names can influence the decisions is kind of funny!

I still not sure which color I'd choose for my company logo. I got stuck with B&W so far. But I'm considering to adopt a green pattern with some blue details or sth like that!

Thanks for this article Greg! =)

Matt Jul 17

Those awful pie charts stand out a mile, in what is otherwise a great read.

Leigh Jeffery Jul 17

Super useful guide for explaining colour to clients! thank you for this:)

Tim Jul 17

Great article, flamin' hell you guys are value adding.

I am using a new WP theme which allows one-click changes between base/accent/highlight colours so it would be interesting to test a few combos to see.

(Note, it is build on Bootstrap so I just standard BS button colours particularly blue and red).

julie Jul 17

I wonder if you can predict relationship outcomes based on color preferences between partners. My husband ( 22 years) and I favor atypical colors for men and women. He is a purple fan, while I am all about orange. These colors are close to opposite and high in contrast. Our marriage is never dull, lots of humor, romance and compassion. Would two blue fans get bored and stray, or make a perfect match?

Daniel Smith Jul 17

What about black?

Mike Jul 17

Most of the topic is related to the context that colors is inserted in, relating it to behavior.
But the last topic, about the name of the colors, caught my attention, to that I haven't paid attention before.

Where color is related to perceived value, the name.

PaulGeraghty Jul 18

I wanted to make an important point, but cannot highlight the text in this message ...

Menon Jul 18

Great collaboration of information. Very worthy....

Ken Jul 18

Great to read a good research based article on this subject.

I had a client recently tell me that they would prefer we change their call to action buttons to a colour other than red as they had heard that red is a "stop" colour and could hurt their conversions. Without anything solid to refer her to, I just had to say "OK we'll change that for you".


Esteban Jul 18

A great compilation of data showing the complexity of working with colors. Personality, context and contrast should lead the decision-making process. Thank you for the good examples and links to relevant studies. Biggest takeaway:

“it’s far more important for your brand’s colors to support the personality you want to portray instead of trying to align with stereotypical color associations.

Diane Romick Jul 18

As an interior designer, I 'personalize' color names for client presentations so that gut reaction of a horrible name doesn't bias a color choice. In a recent PBS taping for Creative Living with Sheryl Borden, I attempted to help DIY-ers understand the huge psychological impact of color in a home. My personal take is that a multi-gender home should be more masculine (so everyone looks good-men just don't look ubermanly in a frilly space) and achromatic/monochromatic with that one feminine piece like a fresh bouquet.

Joe Jul 18

Excellent article. Color is both simple and complex. As a creative director and artist, it's obviously something i've always enjoyed utilizing and playing with.

I kept thinking about how in much of what I present (Hispanic marketing) has to do with color. You hit the nail on the head with more descriptive colors, especially that culturally we Latinos tend to be more multi-chromatic. We like color. Some color names: brown is café (or marrón), purple is morado (or púrpura), blue is azul, and pink is rosa. Many color names find their way into the mainstream with an added panache.

And finally, I completely agree with color usage supporting a brand's personality and message to its intended audience(s).

Thanks for an informative article.

Chris Smith-Hill Jul 18

Fantastic blog! One bit of constructive criticism I'd offer is that research has shown pie charts (or any 2D charts) are not as effective at communicating data than regular old bar charts.

GoDWiLLEE Jul 18

Գերազանց հոդված. Սա առաջին հոդվածը կարդացի, եւ հիմա ես պիտի ներգրավված. (Excellent article! This is the first article I read here and now I will be involved.)

adondeirhoy Jul 18

Wow I remember that from my college days at UT... interesting enough sometimes marketers and designers forget the overall (general specifics of this study) to create brands, logos, and packaging.

Kathy Creaner Jul 18

Thanks for this article. It's really timely as I'm developing a logo for a new start up aimed at business coaching for women.

Jason Jul 19

Excellent article! I love reading about how design affects the decisions we make online. I particularly like the examples you provided. Thanks!

Art Caudill Jul 19

I really liked the in depth, breadth and clarity of focus you presented on such an extremely misunderstood subject matter. I just so happen to be working on a branding logo for my real estate business. You brought a much needed understanding of value of branding the personality or (uniqueness) of my business. There is power in CORRECTLY targeting your focus on a clearly understood purpose. I now understand the purpose of color branding. I just need to determine which group of colors are appropriate for my industry then I can hone it down to my unique selling proposition. Thank you so much, Gregory!

stephen jarrett Jul 19

We use colour for behavioural profiling and love your site.

Look at ours as above.

Also can we send people to your site.

We seem to be thinking along the same lines, is there anything we could do together?

Ankit Jul 19

Awesome Job! Great article. It can help a lot for beginner.

W. Albrecht Jul 19

Great article. I liked the grafics most.

Riky Jul 19

Awesome job, really helpful.
So I can send you my new logo :)

Question: in your opinion is dark gray better than black?I really do believe so

KimmyG Jul 19

Great article!

The PDFProducer study surprised me, in that I thought #9 (blue header, red subhead) was the most prominent, and it did come in second, but that #10 won. I wonder how much of that had to do with color and contrast, and how much had to do with having the would 'free' in there. It would be interesting to see the results if all the text stayed the same, and just color/size were changed.

Fred Celestino Jul 19

Gregory, thanks for this comprehensive article, well written, very informative indeed. Will come back to it for further reference in the future for sure.


Hendrik-Jan Francke Jul 19

Nice article. I like that you got me thinking.

In my first read, I wanted to challenge your comment that Pink isn't good color for Harley. I thought that pink can used effectively as part of the brand. Otherwise I doubt Harly would have a collection of motor clothes "Pink Label". Which made me reread. I realize then that you wrote 'colors' in the plural.

To me there is a huge difference you statement "there is a real connection between the use of colors and customers’ perceptions of a brand’s personality" if the word colors was singular. It is about the color palette, not one color.


Malkiyahu Jul 19

This whole article is informative and helpful, but the only study that I would call really surprising is "Impact of color on marketing." I knew that people make up their minds quickly, but I didn't know that "about 62-90 percent of the assessment is based on colors alone," or that colors alone could "increase or decrease appetite" or "reduce perception of waiting time." Crazy. I love it.

Dale Carter Jul 20

Love the logo / colour chart. Are there any studies showing increases in revenue due to a colour change only in a company or web site?

Mark Jul 20

Great information in this article!
I was exploring some of the color options for my site and page content and the guidelines here will be a great help.
Thanks for providing the recommendations.

Elaine Flynn Jul 21

Enjoyed your article, Gregory, as I have your previous ones. Nicely researched too...
What will the next article be about, I wonder...
I would like one that deals with how much to push and how much to hold back when trying to close a deal.

macy Jul 21

I wanted to thank you for this special read. I definitely savored every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post..

Sophie Jul 23

Great article, 2 points that I completely agree with :
1- It’s far more important for your brand’s colors to support the personality you want to portray instead of trying to align with stereotypical color associations.
2. Giving a trendy name to a color is inspiring and payfull, the best example : Moka better than brown!
So thank you Gregory, it gives me nice memories when I used to think of colors for new product range.

Mark Murphy Jul 23

This has been a very interesting article about colour. The actual colours in the article itself pulled me in a few times.

The simple button colour change from green to red causing a 21% conversion boost is shocking.

Time to go and make some major colour changes to my site.........

Ramsay Helps Jul 23

I'm a copy writer and I can tell you that everything a person puts into copy and marketing is well thought through. Color is no exception.

Great article

RJ Reedy Jul 25

Great information!

Vanda Jul 28

Great article! Not sure that I agree about men liking strong colours and women soft colours, but a very interesting perspective. I have always believed that colours are influential in the individual's mood and sense of well-being, so the use of colour in promoting a product makes sense.

John Jul 29

The conversion information will open some eyes on how to convert better but what is also important is the calls to action (CTA). When people are getting websites designed they like to crowd pages with many CTAs that all fight for your attention and reduce the conversion rate in the process.

Charlie Southwell Jul 31

Nice thoughts on colour. Something I think about a lot in terms of making CTA jump out more effectively.

Also something I probably need to think about changing for my brand.

All about the testing!

Will Webb Jul 31

Great article and very informative! What I found the most interesting about the article is how your brand needs to think about it's personality and the context around it, before moving to choosing colour combinations. When I've been in meetings with designers or clients, they will say things like "well, you know, the colour RED is associated with 'warning' or 'danger'" where your article clearly states that it's about the consumer experiences. I couldn't agree more! Thanks for this article, it was very educational! :)

Andy Kuiper Jul 31

Absolutely fascinating information - it's something one often wonders about, but never really gets the whole explanation... nice work Gregory, and thank you :-)

Milan Jul 31

Great post and well researched topic...

Here you have one interesting infographic on same topic...

Heather Physioc Jul 31

I think I am most surprised by the Chopra study. To my eye (and maybe I'm not the target audience) they all looked interchangeable to me. I actually thought #11 had more contrast than #10. Interesting stuff!

I think the entire color theory debate boils down to one key thing - people are chronically over-fitting the model. They get results from one test, and they assume that the results of that one test with very distinct circumstances, audiences, goals, and a number of other variables, will in turn apply to everything they ever work on in the future. It's just bad science at the end of the day.

Nick Fewings Aug 2

Fascinating article and the use of colour is not just used in marketing. At The Colour Works, we use it to associate psychological behaviours to four dominant colours that in the old days used to be called temperaments.

You may find this article of interest

Maura Desimone Aug 2

A LOT of work went into that article! Thanks for sharing that fabulous content!

Marc Aug 2

For me it was most astouning, that men and women most dislike the colors brown and orange. Especially the dislike of brown color is a big surprise.

Ram Kr Shukla Aug 5

No color is perfect and conversion complexity can only be revealed by continuous testing, although this research will help in creating a strategy from where to start..very nice

Maurice Aug 5

Awesome article. Now to fire up some A/B testing of my own and see if I can measure any obvious results. Thanks for the awesome resource, there's so many on the web and I always skip over them, this one was a nice summary of many around.

Robert Pavlik Aug 9

Insightful and spot on. Introducing the heavy influencers of culture and upbringing invites us to set aside personal biases.
Well done, and one of the more substantive articles I've taken the time to read on LinkedIn. Thank you for posting this.

Sean Aug 20

Very interesting points. The key takeaway I got is to use stark contrasting colors to make your conversion / CTA buttons stand out from the rest of your site. This is something we need to implement. Great post!

Master Sep 4

That's really good article. The picture shows really clear the connection between a company goals and their logos (visual id). Good job!

Theresa Oct 8

Fabulous article! One of the best I've ever read on use of color in marketing and design. Terrific job.

Adrian Nov 7

Agree with the majority here - real quality - thanks for your contribution.

Dan Carter Nov 23

Fascinating article and the use of color is not just used in marketing. I love red color which i have used in my website as a major color

Gautam Nov 23

Wow I have been missing so much. Thanks for the great article. My site is white and without colors and i think i have found the reasons for my performance lacking.

shadi Nov 24

I am an Iranian. Thank you to the article.

Michelle Dec 28

On Jul 17 4:29 PM in the comments section, you said:

@Abigail -- Great point, but the study you mention only asked the participants to choose between 8 colors (I believe primary + secondary with black, white, and brown, if I recall correctly).

3 primary, 3 secondary and black, white and brown makes 9 colours unless you consider black and white to be tones and not colours, which makes it 7.

A really good article, thank you.

andreas Jan 7

Great article, how long time does it take for you to write one of these?

Troy Holder Jan 20

Rightful stated impact of colour in marketing and branding continues to be controversial and many guides are mis-leading. The variable are so diverse that, testing is the only way to go! Yes I know even then they is no guarantee.

Tom Southern Jan 22

Interesting piece! Colour is a favourite topic of mine. I find its affect on people fascinating.

Another aspect of colour choice and preference is cultural. For instance, here in the UK yellow is often associated with illness. Our major cancer support charities have yellow logos. When asked why people think of yellow in the same vein as illness they come up with the reason that yellow is the colour of a sick person's bile.

Pink and blue have changed genders since the 19th Century (at least over here). Blue was once considered a girl's colour because of its association with the Virgin Mary. Pink was a boy's colour. In the 19th Century 2 of our top boys' schools competed for the right to have pink as their uniform colour. They challenged each other to a Rugby match. The winning school got to wear pink.

As for purple not being popular with the boys, Derek Halpern uses purple as his signature colour.

David Olivares Feb 21

I have found hard to test the market for techniques like this one about the color when you do not have a traffic of more than 1000 people. I think small companies can not really test or apply this techniques

Kit Kat Mar 10

The study that point out that purple is the most preferred colour of female and the least preferred colour of male really surprise me.

Food Truck Mar 23

My wife and I are planning to open a food truck business in a about a year. I came across this article when considering how to have our truck painted and how our brand logo should be designed for shirts, the truck, social media, menu and such. It's been very helpful. Thanks for your work!

kiros fana Apr 3

nice explanation.

Lionel Thomas Apr 4

Choosing colors is one of the most difficult challenge in Design's craft. I guess it's an ongoing process and you get better at it with only thorough practice. Bad color's choice can really mess up your design, especially on business cards. I've just Evernote this article and hope you did the same. Let's use that knowledge and use it well when it's about to create a great business card. More here

Nick Comito Apr 9

A really great and informative article. Thanks!

J Jones Apr 10

Excellent article. I will share this with my students when we discuss the impact of color. I found you comments about the impact of the names of the colors to be fascinating. I have observed that people seem to like and are more inclined to make a purchase when a work of art has a title that enhances the piece as opposed to the generic, "untitled." Your comments support that hunch.

Jordan Walker Apr 12

Just fascinating stuff! Great article! I've always wondered what connection colours have to certain sports teams(ie. Why Blue and White, or Orange and Black, or the red, blue and white of the Montreal Canadiens).

S. Nagendra Apr 18

Excellent job, indeed a nice & important article on colors. I think people who doesn't give importance to the colors must read this article, especially graphic designers.

Thanks a lot to give such an informative article!

Dave R Apr 18

Such a great article!
I find the use of colour so very important when designing book covers, the subtle effect that colour has upon the prospective reader is far larger than they realize.
Even down to simply the colour of the title, this will have a dramatic impact upon how the book is viewed and more importantly, how the concept behind the book is perceived.
Thanks again for such great work!!
Dave from

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