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Colors Critical - In Branding/Marketing


  • an important consideration in a brand identity.

  • have a significant impact on people's emotional state.

  • can trigger an emotion and evoke a brand association.

  • is also important because a response to a color is based on a life experiences and cultural associations

Color Psychology - What Colors Communicate

“Color is a power which directly influences the soul.” ~ Wassily Kandinsky

A quick rundown of different hues and the feelings they often evoke:

  • Red: excitement, danger, energy, courage, strength, anger.

  • Orange: creativity, enthusiasm, health, happiness, encouragement, balance.

  • Yellow: sunshine, hope, optimism, light, positivity, freshness.

  • Green: health, nature, renewal, generosity, freshness, environment.

  • Blue: freedom, trust, expansiveness, dependability, faith, inspiration.

  • Purple: royalty, luxury, power, pride, creativity, mystery.

Warm colors usually create energy and excitement, and evoke passion, while cool colors bring forth calm and relaxation.

Some popular and successful colors used in marketing.

Why does it matter?

It matters because the chosen color palette needs to be appropriate to not only evoke emotions but also be distinctive and be able to differentiate a brand from its competition.

How to Define a Color

  1. Hue - refers to the dominant color family. The origin of the colors that we can see. Primary and Secondary colors (Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange and Violet) are considered Hues.

  2. Saturation - indicates the amount of grey in a color

  3. Brightness - refers to how much of white or black is in the color

Color Theory

Understanding how color is formed and the relationships between different colors, can help the use of color more effectively in the designs. Choosing colors requires a good understanding of the color theory.

Color Groups/Combinations

Colors work in groups and therefore brand identity needs to have some color schemes established meaning color combinations that work together well.

Monochrome, complementary, analogous, split, triad, or tetradic are different color schemes that guide the options between selecting contrasting colors and harmonious colors, depending on the desired effect wanted to be achieved.

Monochrome means using only one color ranging from its light shade to its darker shade.


Complementary colors sit opposite each other on the color wheel. They result in high-contrast and when paired bring out the best in each other.

Example on the color wheel - Blue and Orange. Notice how they are directly across from each other.


Analogous Combinations - These color combinations sit directly side by side on the color wheel and the harmonious blends evoke serenityand peace.

Example on the color wheel - Violet, Blue, and Teal.


Split uses 3 colors. One of the three colors is the base color. The other two colors are opposites of the base color in the wheel.


Triad is a combination of 3 colors that form a triangle in the center of the color wheel creating an amazing contrast, and a balanced color scheme.

An example of a triad scheme is yellow, blue and red.


Tetradic color consists of four colors which is made up of two sets of complementary colors, and also the most complicated scheme to balance.


2 Different Ways of Seeing Color

  • Emission - where the object emits light e.g. LED displays

  • Reflection - where the object reflects light e.g. painted surfaces

In the digital world RGB (additive theory) is used but in print CMYK system (subtractive theory) is used.

CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) and RGB (Red, Green, Blue) are the color spaces used to generate a wide array of different colors that are used in a variety of settings.

Difference between RGB and CMYK colors?

  • RGB: is an additive color space and is light-based. Additive colors are colors which are "pure", i.e. colors add up to form white light. RGB Color (Red, Green, Blue) is used on the web in the form of HEX value (web colors). For example white is #ffffff and black #000000 (Ebaqdesign's brand color). A RED light looks RED because it emits RED light.

  • CMYK: is subtractive and is pigment-based. Subtractive colors are "impure". You perceive RED pigment to be RED because it reflects RED light and absorbs everything except RED light falling on it.

Besides CMYK and RGB there is also the Pantone Colour Palettes which allows to have the same color in both digital and print.

** There so much more that can be said about colors... The Designer's Dictionary of Color by Sean Adams is one of the many good book to read on it.


'What' and 'why' should I consider before I pick a color for my business/organization?

(printers edition)

  1. Number of colors: 1-3 Colors is a good number of colors to have in your main logo. It is also always great to have a one color version of your logo as well. This will give you a greater opportunity to spend some money on marketing materials without breaking the bank.

  2. Make sure your logo does not depend on shading or blending. For paper printing, there will not be as many problems but some processes like screen printing or embroidery can be a little more complicated and expensive.

  3. Stay simple, with colors. Most printers and print shops will have the most commonly and frequently used colors already on their shelves. So if you choose a simple color like red, orange, blue, purple, yellow, etc. you will avoid having to pay extra fees for custom colors and raw materials your printer will need to special order just for you.

  4. Understand and take note when choosing your color scheme on the information about the meaning and purpose of different colors, to help convey your brand and message to your loyal customers.


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