Color psychology in marketing

In content marketing, color is an emotional signal, that can help you to stand out. By the right usage of color, you can make your audience see, feel and experience your brand. In this post, we would like to make you understand the basic color theory and color psychology.

Basics of color theory

Marketers and designers need to understand the color theory and how to use color in the right content.

Primary Colors are the 3 main colors that create all the other colors. They are red, blue, and yellow.

Secondary Colors are purple, green, and orange, which are created by using the primary colors. (red + blue = purple, blue + yellow = green, red + yellow = orange).

Tertiary Colors are two-names colors such as red-purple, red-orange, yellow-green, etc. They are created by adding more from one of the primary colors than from another, creating something close to secondary color but closer o the primary.

Pure Colors are all primary, secondary and tertiary colors without the addition of white, black, or a third color. They also called saturated colors and are bright, intense and cheery. Usually, they are used for summer clothes or kids’ toys.

The tint is what you get when you add white to the colors. They are lighter and not as intense as pure color, they are also known as pastel colors. Tints range from slightly whiter to almost-white.

The shade is created when black color is added to pure colors. Shades range from slightly darker to almost black.

Tones are created when grey (black+white) is added to pure colors. Adding black and white in different amounts to a color subdues the intensity.


Contrast is how one color stands apart from another. High contrast is when colors easily stand apart from each other and low contrast is when they don’t.

Turn your colors into grayscale to understand if they have a good contrast or not. When colors have same tone, they don’t make contrast, even that they are different colors.

High contrast is better for important context because it is better readable. People like simplicity – and remember: there is a meaning that each color adds or takes away from your message.

Using opposite colors

Opposite colors are the colors that stand opposite to each other on the color wheel. Complementary colors provide visual tension and create great color combinations. Using complementary colors is the easiest way to get something to stand out.

Caution: Some people have color blindness and cannot distinguish between certain colors, where for example red and green are a common problematic combination. To help with color blindness there must be high contrast. High contrast and additional text will ensure that even when color blindness is present, your visuals will be both readable and enjoyable to see.

Split complementary colors

If you want to use three colors instead of just two, choose one color as your base color and then the two colors adjacent to its opposite. This is called a split complementary color scheme.

Analogous colors

Analogous colors sit next to each other on the color wheel. They are related or same family colors so they can create good visuals. To stand out you may need to add a complementary color.

Monochromatic colors

A single color with its tints, tones and shades is what we call a monochromatic color. They are even softer than analogoue colors. To make a good design, pair collection of monochromatic colors with a single complementary color.

Triangle, rectangle and square colors

A triangle is a color combination made of three colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel.
A rectangle is a color combination made of four colors that are made up of two complementary pairs.
A square is similar to a rectangle palette, but the two sets of complementary pairs are colors evenly spaced around the circle.

The psychology of colors

Color attracts your eye. It helps us decide what to to do and how to interpret something, understand what is important and what’s not. We don’t all react the same to colors as we have different experience related to them. But there are a few generalities about how people respond to colors.

Red: Red is a very powerful, dynamic color that reflects our physical needs whether to show affection and love, or terror, fear, and survival. Red is also a very energizing color that can portray friendliness and strength, but can also show aggression depending on its context.

Orange: Orange is known to be a color of physical comfort in our warmth, food, and shelter. It is also the color of motivation, positive attitude, and general enthusiasm for life.

Yellow: Yellow is the color of joy, happiness, and optimism. But avoid using yellow too much because it’s also known to make us more critical causing self esteem issues, fear, or anxiety.

Green: Green is a color of balance and harmony. Green is one of the most-seen colors in nature reflecting life, rest, and peace. When you need to express health, rest, and to relieve stress, definitely you need to use green. Green has the most positive effects than all colors, few are the negative aspects like over-possession and materialism.

Blue: Blue is known for its trust and dependability. It’s also reliable and responsible. For this reasons it is the most favourite color in the world. Blue has more mental reactions like allows us to destress, calm down, and think of the most ideal situation. Used in big amounts can also look as distant, cold, or unfriendly.

Purple: Purple is known for its imagination and spirituality. Purple is often used to show luxury, loyalty, courage, mystery, and magic. Purple also presents space for mystery and new ideas, but when it is used to much can cause too much introspection or distraction.

Pink: Pink creates a sense of compassion and unconditional love, ideal color for caring, understanding, and nurturing those in need. Pink is a sign of hope, very romantic and it shows empathy and sensitivity. Too much pink can be very draining, show a lack of power, and even immature.

Brown: Brown is a great sign of structure, security, and protection. It’s also a very serious color but when used too much seem reserved, scheduled, and boring.

Gold: Gold has quite a few different meanings depending on your culture. Generally it represents some variation of charm, confidence, luxury, and treasure. It also can have an element of friendliness, abundance, and prosperity. Too much gold, however, can seem egotistical, proud, and self-righteous.

Black: Black is a color of sophistication, seriousness, control, and independence. It can also be used to show evil, mystery, depression, and even death. Too much black can cause sadness and overall negativity.

White: White is color that is complete and pure, making it a perfect example of purity, innocence, cleanliness, and peace. White is a great color for simplicity, cleanliness, and idea creation, but too much white can cause isolation, loneliness, and emptiness.

Bright colors

Bright colors promote physical activity but make time seem slower. For mental activity the cooler and softer colors are better and make the time run fast.

Cultural color

As we said before different colors have different meaning for different cultures. Every culture understands the colors differently. It has a role to play in religion, politics, ceremony, and art. For example, in India, red means purity, while in the U.S passion and specific holidays. For choosing the right color we like to recommend a (small) market research about color meaning in your target country.

Word connections to color

In a survey, people were asked to choose the color they associate with particular words. Here are the answers:

  • Trust: Most answers are blue, followed by white and green
  • Security: Blue came out on top, followed by black and green
  • Speed: Red is the favorite one
  • Cheapness: Orange came first, followed by yellow and brown
  • High Quality:Black was the clear winner, then blue
  • High Tech:Black is the top choice and blue and grey second
  • Reliability: Blue is the top choice, followed by black
  • Courage:Most chose purple, then red, and finally blue
  • Fear/Terror: Red came in first followed by black
  • Fun:Orange was the top choice, followed closely by yellow and then purple

Colors by gender

  • Blue is the favorite color by both men and women
  • Men dislike brown the most while women dislike orange the most.
  • We all found cheap the colors that we dislike.
  • Men tolerate achromatic better.
  • Women preferred tints while men preferred pure or shaded colors.
  • A majority of men and women preferred cool colors in general.
  • Orange and yellow grow increasingly disliked as both genders get older.

Women see more colors than men, generally. They are more aware of slight color differences within a color range.

Color & brand recognition

People make a judgment about your content in the first 90 seconds or less.
Most of that judgment is influenced by the colors you are using.
Color helps people recognize and memorise your brand by up to 80%.