Unit 1: Intro to Design
Unit 2: Figma Fundamentals
Unit 3: The Creative Process
Unit 4: Color Theory
Unit 5: Introduction to Illustrator
Unit 6: Typography
Unit 7: Layout
Unit 8: Typesetting
Unit 9: User Interface Design
Unit 10: Design Systems
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Color Psychology

The most commonly-known color hues have associations with human emotions and psychology. Designers tend to use this association to determine a primary color for a brand based on its personality discovered during the brand exploration process.

Let’s introduce some of the most common psychology associations with colors.

Red

The first color hue we will talk about is red. Red is a versatile and multi-facted color. In Western cultures, red is often associated with passion and love in popular culture, as we can see from the poster design of American Beauty.

In other situations, red has a totally different meaning. Because of its association with blood, red can be seen as dangerous and violent. It actually has proven to be able to raise blood pressure. So it’s quite a strong and intense color.

In some instances, red is closely associated with political powers and properganda.

In the setting of fast food restaurants, red is a great color to stimulate appetites, which is why fast food chains like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King and Pizza Hut all have red in their branding.

Red is also popular in luxury cars because it strongly associates with adrenaline as well.

Yellow

Yellow, on the other hand, is a stimulating yet less intense color. The color yellow is often used as a “pop” against other colors due to its brightness, which is why it’s a very popular color for call-to-action buttons in digital design.

Yellow is also seen as being youthful, happy and creative. So if you are designing for a brand that has creativity built into its DNA, yellow may be a good choice.

On the other hand, yellow can carry some less-than-positive meaning as well. Police tapes, warning signs, traffic police vests are frequently in yellow because it is easy to spot.

This may be why that if you drive a yellow car, you have a significantly higher than average chance of being stopped by the police if you are speeding. After all, yellow is stimulating and easier to spot than most other colors.

Orange

A close cousin to yellow and red is orange, which is a color hue in between them.

Orange combines the positive energy of red and yellow without the aggressiveness and intensity of these colors. It is considered productive and energizing, which is why home improvement brands like Home Depot and energy drink brands like Gatorade all chose orange as part of their brand colors.

Green

Now let’s move on to the cooler spectrum in the color wheel and discuss green as the next color hue.

Because of its strong association with plants and and nature, green is a natural choice for anything environmental-related.

Green is also widely-used by beer brands because of its association with refreshing qualities.

On the other hand, deeper green shades can be viewed as carrying more weight, which creates a more mature and authoritative image for a brand. For example, Starbucks uses a darker green shade as their main brand color. It looks visibly different from the medium green that Heineken uses for their beer packaging, which is supposed to be more refreshing. With a medium to dark green, Starbucks was able to construct a more elevated and trusting brand image.

Blue

A close cousin to green is the blue hue, which is the preferred color for a lot of financial institutions. A color strongly associated with sky and ocean, blue is a calming color. It actually has the ability to decrease blood pressure.

The reason that financial institutions tend to prefer blue as their brand color is because it has the connotation of being trust-worthy, which is exactly how these institutions want their customers to feel.

In recent years, blue also appears to be quite popular with technology companies because of the same association with trustworthiness.

Purple

A color similar to blue but with a bit of red mixed in is purple. Purple is a color that is associated with creativity and royalty. One of the reasons is that purple is quite rare in nature. When we come across something rare, we naturally associate it with elevated brand positioning.

For example, Cadbury, a multinational confectionary company and many other brands use it as a primary color to position itself as premium and upscale.

Pink

As we move closer back to the red hue, we have pink as a color hue.

Pink is calming, innocent and tender. It is strongly associated with femininity. The use of pink is also linked to childhood, sweetness and gentle love, which is why it is not only used by brands that are feminine but also others that simply want to convey a soft and friendly brand image. For example, Joe the Juice, a lifestyle coffee shop and juice bars, uses a light tint of pink as their brand color.

Black

Now let’s switch the lens to view neutral colors and their association with emotions. If we see a website with predominantly black or dark colors, we usually associate it with elevated and sophisticated brand positioning.

The color black carries a lot of weight, which makes it a great candidate for brands that need sophistication and elevation in brand positioning. Black can make bright colors pop even more than when they are put against a white background, which makes it ideal if designers want accent colors to have more of an impact.

White

The opposite end of the spectrum in the neutral color palette is white, which is associated with cleanliness and modernism.

Apple is one of the brands that uses white in most of its product design and packaging design. It is an easy color to start with as a neutral base if a designer isn’t sure how to use other colors yet. When used adequately with a lot of white space, also known as negative space, the result can be very clean, modern and minimal.

White can also mean purity and chastity because most Western wedding dresses are white, which is why many bridal websites choose white as their main color.

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