The Emotions Of Colour In Design

By Mash Bonigala

You see colours used in marketing materials all the time. However, few outside of the artistic professions ever realize that each colour has very specific uses – especially in creating logo designs.

Studies have shown that each colour can trigger certain emotional responses in a person. A savvy marketer or designer can use specific colour combinations in order to convey a desired impression or message, or encourage certain behavior in audiences. Below are a list of several primary and secondary colours and the major emotions and responses tied to each.

For example, look at this aid organization logo that we created for a client and the unique colors we chose to make the brand stand out.


Red is a powerful colour, emotionally. It triggers strong emotional responses and is most commonly associated with danger, anger, or excitement. It is this last emotion that marketers are usually after when they use red in their branding.


A cross between yellow and red, it is usually associated with enthusiasm and creativity. It has also been discovered to increase a person’s appetite, and so it’s also used to promote food.


Forget fear; yellow is all about happiness. It is the colour of smiley faces and sunshine, and can attract attention better than most other colours. Yellow has also been said to stimulate mental activity.


Green is associated harmony, growth, and earthiness. It’s a grounded colour, ideal for organic or natural products. Because of the colour of U.S. money, it can also be associated with wealth and prosperity.


A calm, peaceful colour, blue is often used by industries such as medicine or banking to give the impression of professionalism and authority. And where orange encourages appetite, blue suppresses it instead.


Violet takes cues from both red and blue, combining red’s power and blue’s composure. Violet has long been used as the colour of royalty or nobility, and is used in marketing to represent luxury or elitism.


Although it has many negative cultural meanings, black is used in marketing to denote quality and elegance. Luxury items are often called “black label” goods, to set them apart from products that are similar but of lower quality.


White is one of the simplest and purest colours in the emotional palette. It is usually associated with innocence and goodness, hence its popularity with baby brands, charity organizations, and some religions.

So take another look at your marketing materials and see what colour combinations you’re using. See how they match with the emotional spectrum and see how you can tweak them to emphasize your brand’s message.