By Daisy Benitez
In the public relations sector, branding and creating an image to establish a prominent identity is vital to a client’s success. To reinforce a company’s image, designing an easy-to-remember and consistent color scheme rather than one that blends into the thousands of other companies, is very important. As the iconic Tevin Campbell song “Stand Out” from Disney’s A Goofy Movie says “to stand out above the crowd” you often “gotta shout out loud.” Just the same, hundreds of companies use unique color schemes to also stand out above the crowd. Although some may feel color is of little importance, a brand’s colors are essential in creating an image that is both memorable and able to convey characteristics of their identity. To showcase how companies use colors to do so, below is a list of 10 of some of your favorite companies and how they use color psychology to present themselves to the public.
Over the years Target has grown exponentially, reaching new audiences that vary from college students who are transitioning into adulthood, to gen-z hoping to pick up the latest craze they saw on TikTok. But one thing that hasn’t changed for Target is the iconic red color associated with the company. Though red is commonly seen in many other company brand colors, Target’s red color has been trademarked. Red, being a color that is both bold and evokes passion, is perfect when combined with the signature Target logo.
Ikea, the Swedish multi-industry company, flaunts the bright colors yellow and blue not only because Sweden’s national flag contains similar shades, but also because of the emotions conveyed by the two. Yellow is often associated with smiley faces, usually symbolizing happiness, also aids in presenting a friendly demeanor to clientele. Blue complements the friendly demeanor since color science explains it to be associated with feelings of tranquility.
Apple has been at the forefront of technological advances for decades now. Although the colors associated with the brand have transformed over the years from rainbow to black, they have remained loyal to their modern gray/silver base color. Although this color isn’t as bright or eye-catching as others, it does well in evoking class, professionalism and practicality. Apple, a company that places a lot of value on efficiency, uses gray to evoke this very feeling.
Starbucks, a favorite coffee location for students, has served as the perfect location for studying with its tranquil and serene ambiance. According to Nick Carson’s 2020 creative blog article, the stylization of the Starbucks logo from a brown to a green color was decided as a reference to the University of San Francisco, where the three founders of the coffee franchise were educated. But the color does much more in helping present its image. Now placing more emphasis on environmentally friendly practices, green is a great representation of the company’s eco-conscious goals. Along with this, green is also known to invoke feelings of relaxation—necessary for a place frequented by stressed-out college and high school students.
The multinational fast-food franchise McDonald’s has, for decades now, held up its use of the bright red and yellow colors of its brand. The food location, known to be huge amongst the younger audience because of their Happy Meals, does right in choosing such colors. As mentioned before, yellow is usually associated with happy feelings and it also is representative of youthful energy, while red has gone as far as being scientifically proven to increase heart rate and appetite. As a fast-food restaurant, an increase in appetite is definitely a desired outcome from a color scheme.
Goodwill, now a location frequented by teens and younger millennials hoping to find cute gems to add to their growing wardrobe at an affordable price, is lucky to have chosen the serenity of their soft blue color. Black, one color which accompanies blue in their logo, is usually a color that elicits elegance and luxury. Unfortunately in their case, secondhand goods are not representative of such characteristics. On the other hand, its complimentary white color delivers an efficient and pure element.
7. Victoria’s Secret
Victoria’s secret is famed for its bombshell fashion shows, but it is also a go-to for women to find bras, panties and fragrances. The color pink is commonly associated with femininity, therefore brands like Victoria’s Secret, Barbie and Justice, with a high percentage of female customers, target women with pink in their logos.
Twitter has become one of the biggest social media platforms in the past decade, serving as the location where many hash out their political disagreements, rant about how awful their boss was to them at work or post images of their achievements. Twitter is a platform people use for a multitude of reasons and their sky blue color, inspired by their logo in the shape of a bird, communicates dependability. Not only is this blue harmonious, social media platforms know that it is known to boost interaction.
9. Best Buy
Even though Best Buy’s color scheme is very similar to Ikea’s, the reasoning behind their choice of colors differs slightly. Yes, yellow is used in hopes of evoking a friendly demeanor, but the yellow is also used in the image of a price tag. This friendly demeanor, along with the blue shirts worn by employees, makes their employees more approachable. The logo and its font are both bold and big, which is great usage to motivate window shoppers to make actual purchases.
As mentioned with McDonald’s, as a food company Coca Cola’s usage of red helps induce an increase in appetite. Not only does their red carry energy and excitement, because red can sometimes be associated with danger, the sense of urgency that red creates also increases the likelihood of consumers following through on a purchase when looking at their product. Keeping this consistent image across many channels compels people to want to take action once there is an increase in appetite, and buy a Coke.
Through strategic analysis of these successful brands, we can see how much of an effect color has on consumers. Marketers, as well as individuals in the public relations sector, should be aware of color psychology and use it to affect their publics when communicating a specific message.
Do any of your favorite companies have colors not covered on this list? Maybe the streaming platform Twitch’s purple or Home Depot’s orange have psychology behind their colors. Remember, if you want your audience to experience certain emotions when viewing your brand, consider using color psychology.
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