The Meaning of Color in Branding | MP 34

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The Meaning of Color in Branding | MP 34

Are you curious about the world of color, and learning how to utilize it to help expand your business? As a marketer, what would you like people to feel and think when they interact with your brand? Which color combinations can help you better connect with your client base?

In this podcast episode, Sam Carvalho speaks about the meaning of color in branding.

In This Podcast


  • Warm colors
  • Cool colors
  • Notable colors

Warm colors

You want to think a bit deeper into the meaning of those colors and what it’s going to initiate in other people … What are they going to think and feel when they look at your brand?


  • Excitement, energy, passion, courage, and attention are some of the emotions that are associated with the color red.
  • In branding, red can be used to stimulate, create urgency, draw attention to particular aspects, encourage and caution.
  • Some of these are opposing attitudes, so it is recommended to use red sparingly so as to not overwhelm your viewers or create conflicting emotions.
  • Red retains more emphasis when it is used in small amounts, for example, using red to draw attention to the length of time an offer is available is a good way of making use of red’s eye-catching ability.


  • Invites optimism, independence, creativity, and fun. In branding, it is often used to stimulate, communicate, draw attention to, express freedom, and to fascinate.
  • Incredibly versatile color to use in branding; it is a good color for a call-to-action without being as harsh as red, however still draws attention. It also fits in well with most color schemes, which means you can apply it in a variety of different contexts.


  • Yellow can encourage emotions like enthusiasm, opportunity, spontaneity, happiness, and positivity.
  • In branding, yellow is often used to stimulate, encourage relaxation, awake awareness, and energize. A touch of yellow can brighten things up, lightening the atmosphere, and bring an element of positivity to your brand.

Cool colors

Light green

  • Light green projects emotions such as growth, harmony, fertility, kindness, and dependability.
  • This color is used within branding to give a sense of restorative energy, to promote growth, nurture, and rejuvenate. Green is a good color to use in counseling as it encourages a sense of healing and replenishing.

Dark green

  • Dark green brings up emotions like safety, harmony, stability, reliability, and balance.
  • In branding, dark green is usually used to give off the impression of relaxation, balance, and encouragement. Many investment groups and spas make use of dark green to bring forth these associations. Consider using dark green in your branding if you are wanting to evoke a sense of trust in your client base.

Light blue

  • This color encourages emotions like freedom, self-expression, trusting intuition, wisdom, and joy.
  • Using light blue in branding can help to draw attention, in a softer way than when using red, and can inspire trust and stimulate productivity.

Dark blue

  • Trust, responsibility, honesty, loyalty, and inner serenity are emotions that dark blue associates with.
  • In branding, dark blue can be used to help reduce stress, create calmness and feelings of security and order.

It may be helpful here to note the difference between the lighter and darker colors. That the darker versions of green and blue are more serious and mature than light green and blue. Being aware of this slight yet important difference can help you to add emotive subtlety to your branding, and can evoke a spectrum of feeling within your client base.

Notable colors


  • Purple brings up emotions like spirituality, compassion, sensitivity, and mystery.
  • This is an unusual color to use in branding, but it can add significant flair and distinguished touches when used sparingly. Purple can encourage creativity, inspire, and can create the impression of luxury.
  • A note of caution when using purple is not to use too much of it. Studies have shown that excessive amounts of purple in branding may be associated with arrogance and can frustrate potential clients.


  • Pink is associated with compassion, love, immaturity, playfulness, and admiration.
  • In branding, pink is used to give a sense of energy, to accelerate the pulse, motivate action, and create fascination in a client base. Pink often works best when it is time-specific and also sparingly used, as it can come across as frivolous.


  • Gray is often associated with emotions like neutrality, practicality, and being conservative.
  • Within branding, gray is usually used to create a sense of composure, timelessness, and to communicate a level of maturation.
  • It’s a good base color to complement other colors, along with white.

Useful Links:

Meet Sam Carvalho

Samantha Carvalho DesignSam Carvalho is a graphic designer living in Cape Town, South Africa, with over five years of experience in both design and marketing, with a special interest and experience in the start-up environment.

She has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016 and has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs take their practices to the next level by enhancing their visual branding. She loves working with a variety of clients on design-intensive tasks and is always up for a challenge!

Follow Sam on Instagram to see some of her work. To work with Sam, head on over to

Thanks For Listening!

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Podcast Transcription

Marketing a Practice podcast is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you market and grow your business and yourself. To hear other podcasts like Beta Male Revolution, Empowered and Unapologetic, Imperfect Thriving, or Faith in Practice, go to

Welcome to the Marketing a Practice podcast with me, Sam Carvalho, where you will discover everything you need to know about marketing and branding your business. To find out more about how I can help you brand your business, visit And if you’d like to see some examples of my design work, be sure to follow me on Instagram @samanthacarvalhodesign.

Hi there. Thanks so much for taking the time to listen to the Marketing a Practice podcast. I have noticed over the last while, in looking at my previous episodes and how they’ve been performing, and how many downloads I’ve been receiving per episode, that there was quite an interest in the previous episode I did on color theory. And, you know, just kind of touched on the different meanings of colors and why color’s important, and different color combinations that you can use in your branding. So I thought that I would delve a bit deeper into color, seeing as there seems to be quite an interest around it.

Naturally, color is the first thing that people will notice about your product or work. So it’s no wonder that it’s very important when it comes to branding. And it’s important to consider, or to spend at least some time considering what colors you want to use in your branding. Studies have shown that 90% of snap judgments are influenced by color alone. So as I’ve mentioned previously, you don’t necessarily just want to go with your favorite colors when it comes to picking out colors for your business. You want to think a bit deeper into the meaning of those colors and what it’s going to initiate in other people. So what kind of feelings, or is it going to catch their attention? What are they going to think and feel when they look at your brand and look at those colors?

So a few interesting facts around colors. The first color we distinguish after birth is red – I thought that was quite interesting. However, the color blue is favored by humans worldwide. So blue is always kind of a safe color to go for because most people like the color blue. People who are cold prefer warm colors like red and yellow, while people who are hot prefer cool colors like blue and green. So that’s just a few interesting facts around colors. And it obviously makes sense that when you’re… most restaurants, you’ll find – and I heard this fact a few years ago – most restaurants, on the inside, will make use of warm colors like reds and oranges and yellows. Not only because apparently that makes you want to eat more, but it also obviously creates that warm environment and makes you want to stay longer. So perhaps just over the next while start taking note of the colors around you and how they make you feel, and realize that a lot of companies are very intentional when it comes to the colors that they pick. And so how you feel when engaging with a certain brand is on purpose. It’s not just by accident. And if you are in the process of setting up your own brand, then it makes sense to put a little bit more thought into the colors that you’re going to use. Or if you’ve already set up a brand, to maybe start changing some of the colors in your marketing materials, or add some new colors to your website. There’s always an option to not necessarily rebrand entirely, but to add a bit of new colors here and there.

So what I wanted to do in this episode is run through sort of the basic colors that are out there, and what they mean, and what they are used for, and then think of some brands that use those colors and kind of just get you thinking around colors that are out there, brands that are using them, and how they make us feel. So at the risk of possibly boring you but hopefully not, I’m going to run through the emotions that are elicited by these colors and what they’re used for. So starting off with red. So red, the emotions attached to red are ones of excitement, energy, passion, courage, and attention. And the color red in branding is used to stimulate, create urgency, draw attention, caution or encourage. So some of those are obviously very opposing. So while red can initiate passion, or can be used to draw attention, it is also a caution color. So we know this simply from driving, you know, a stop sign is red. Or even if you come to a dead end, those signs are red. So, practically speaking, you want to use red sparingly, simply because it can be associated with caution and with that negative, dangerous side of things. So, if you want to use red at all, I would say use it sparingly and only to draw attention.

So in my designs, I’ll only use red to kind of show how long something is available for. So if, for example, I’m creating an ad, and then I’ll say, you know, ‘limited offer’ or ‘opening at this time’ or something like that, and I’ll highlight those words in red. But I definitely don’t use red a lot. Thinking of a brand that uses red predominantly, obviously, the first one that comes to mind is Coca Cola. So they use the color red very well. And I would say that, from my mind, I would associate them using the color red with a feeling of passion. So I’m always so impressed with Coke’s advertising, and how they kind of are community driven. So they’ll really get involved in whatever is happening currently, and they’ll bring that human aspect to it. And so they make use of red in that sense, and using the passion, and obviously the excitement and the energy aspect of red, they kind of combine all of that in their branding, and they do it very well. But again, they are a very established brand that has spent years building up that credibility in that brand, so I wouldn’t recommend going all red for a start out counseling practice.

Moving on to the next color, orange. So we’ll start out with the warm colors. So the emotions that orange kind of makes you feel, or the emotions that are associated with orange, is optimism, independence, adventure, creativity, and fun. So the brand that came to mind for me with orange straightaway was Fanta, because Fanta has that very fun feel. That very adventurous, creative, fun, optimistic feel. And so they have done that very well. But in branding, orange is used to stimulate, communicate fun, draw attention, express freedom, and fascinate. So practically, orange is actually the perfect color to use for call to actions. It’s not as harsh as red, but it still maintains the same idea of wanting to stimulate and draw attention. And it has that little bit of fun aspect as well. So I’ve said this before, but an orange… and what’s nice about orange as well is that it generally fits with most color schemes. So whatever kind of colors you’ve used for your branding and on your website, orange can usually fit in with those to use as a call to action. Because remember, when it comes to a call to action, you don’t necessarily want it to blend in with the rest of your colors; you want it to stick out. So keep that in mind, that orange is a great color to use for call to actions.

The final color of the warm kind of color realm is yellow. So emotions associated with the yellow are enthusiasm, opportunities, spontaneity, happiness, and positivity. So in branding, yellow is used to stimulate, encourage relaxation, awake awareness, energize and affect your mood. So I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but all the warm colors are used in branding to stimulate. So that is a good thing to keep in mind. When it comes to call to actions, when it comes to wanting to draw attention, or wanting people to do something, always use warm colors. So for yellow, a brand that’s used yellow very well is McDonald’s. So, McDonald’s has done really well in making use of yellow. And for me, the feelings that McDonald’s kind of evokes is that of spontaneity and happiness. So they’ve done that really well and that’s obviously the message that they want to portray in using yellow. Practically, and more on the general side of things, as I’ve said previously, when it comes to call to actions, definitely make use of the warm colors, so you can make use of yellow for that. But bear in mind that even a touch of yellow initiates an association with positivity. So, especially now in this time of Coronavirus, and things are… people are feeling a bit low, it’s not a bad time to make use of yellow to kind of brighten things up. And again, you don’t need to go crazy and use yellow all over the place. Just a touch will bring that element of positivity.

So moving away from the warm colors more to the cool colors, and these colors are more within the realm of counseling and therapy. And you would have noticed this, that most counseling practices make use of greens and blues as their branding colors and this isn’t a bad thing. There’s obviously a reason behind this. But again, you know, try and think of ways that you can stand out a little bit. So, light green, the emotions associated with light green are that of growth, harmony, fertility, kindness, and dependability. And this color is used within branding to restore energy, promote growth, nurture, and rejuvenate. So brands that have used light green really well include Spotify and Hulu. So both of these make you feel… or I think, one to focus on – dependability, and the ability to rejuvenate. So they want you to spend time on their platforms, and hopefully leave feeling rejuvenated. And so they’ve made use of light green as their base color to kind of promote those emotions. So as I’ve mentioned, any sort of green is a good match for counseling, because you’re wanting people to feel like they’re growing. You want them to feel that sense of harmony, of kindness, of dependability. So it’s a good way to go.

Dark green actually evokes slightly different emotions to that of light green, and is used for slightly different reasons. So the emotions associated with dark green are that of safety, harmony, stability, reliability, and balance. So it’s similar but a little bit different to light green. And in branding, dark green is used to relax, balance, revitalize, encourage, possess. So, the brands or companies that I thought of that make use of dark green, or greens just in general, is obviously that of your spas. So if you think of creating that really relaxing environment, green is a good way to go. But then also your banks or your investment firms. So here, in South Africa, we have a very well known investment company called Old Mutual and they are dark green, that’s their base color. And they immediately came to mind when I thought of green because they obviously want to communicate that sense of reliability, of balance, of safety, you know, with your finances, so that makes a lot of sense for them. But in terms of counseling, it’s also a great way to go.

So moving on to your blues. First, light blue. The emotions associated with light blue includes freedom, self expression, trustworthiness, wisdom, and joy. And in branding, it’s used to draw attention, inspire trust, suggest precision, communicate consciousness, and stimulate productivity. I thought those were quite interesting things that light blue tends to do to us. And when it comes to a brand that has used light blue well, I thought of American Express and Facebook. So both of these want to communicate freedom, self expression, and trustworthiness. And so they’ve made use of light blue in order to do that. And again, light blue is a great match for counseling.

Dark blue, the emotions associated with dark blue include trust, responsibility, honesty, loyalty, and inner security. So just a side note, when it comes to the light versus dark of these colors, the dark, you’ll notice, is kind of the more serious, mature side of things whereas the light is possibly the more fun or immature way to go, if that makes sense. So when it comes to colors, it’s not just the actual color, but it’s the saturation of that color as well that you’re kind of dealing with. Obviously, you don’t need to go as involved as that, but you could if you wanted to, because all of it kind of evokes different emotions in people. So dark blue is used in branding to reduce stress, create calmness, relax, secure, and create order. So if you think of Ford, they’ve done really well in making use of dark blue and evoking feelings of trust, responsibility, and loyalty. That would obviously be very important for their brand. But again, dark blue is a good match for counseling.

So we’ve kind of covered your main warm colors and your main cool colors. Moving on to some of your other colors, we only have three left, stick with me – purple. So purple is not a color that I see often in branding. But if it was a color that you were thinking of, then these are the emotions that are associated with it: imagination, spirituality, compassion, sensitivity, and mystery. So obviously, those aren’t emotions usually associated with brands, which is probably why it’s not a common color used in branding, but it is used to encourage creativity, to inspire, to combine wisdom and power, to create an impression of luxury, and an association with intuition. So I thought of Barney the Dinosaur, the friendly dinosaur, when I thought of purple. And he is kind of a perfect… he encapsulates those feelings of imagination, to inspire, and to encourage creativity. So practically, when it comes to branding, I would use purple sparingly, because apparently in doing research for this episode, too much interaction with purple can actually cause frustration, and purple can also be associated with arrogance. So be careful in using too much purple in your branding.

Second last color is pink. The emotions associated with pink are compassion, love, immaturity, playfulness, and admiration. And it’s used in branding to communicate energy, increased pulse, motivate action, create fascination, and encourage creativity. So a brand that I thought that does really well with pink is Cosmopolitan. So they obviously have those feelings of love, playfulness, and they can increase your pulse. So practically, I would say, only think of using pink if your target market is strongly female, or young girls, then it might make sense. But otherwise, rather stay away from pink, or use it sparingly, or use it for time specific reasons. I’m just thinking of Valentine’s Day, for example. If you are running a Valentine’s Day promotion, if you’re a couples therapist, and you may be running a Valentine’s Day promotion, then the inclusion of pink in your marketing materials obviously makes sense. But for long term branding, I wouldn’t recommend it.

And finally, gray. So the emotions associated with gray are neutral, practical, conservative, formal, and quiet. And gray is used to create a sense of composure, depress energy, associate timelessness, and communicate maturation. So when I think of gray branding, I actually thought of skin products. So you’ll notice that a lot of skin products will have an all white exterior with just their logo in gray and their information in gray. And that kind of makes sense because they want to promote that kind of neutral, conservative, quiet feel that when you’re engaging with that product, you know, you’re in that peaceful place, and you’re gaining composure from engaging with it, and things like that. So practically, gray can actually be used often; it’s a good base color to compliment other colors, along with white. So I would say, especially for counseling practices, it’s a nice calming color to have alongside your blues and your greens.

So that was just a run through of your main colors and what they mean, and how they can be used in branding. I hope that you found this helpful. If you were out and about while listening to this, all this information will be included in the show notes so feel free to check that out, and I’ll catch you on the next episode.

Thanks for listening to the Marketing a Practice podcast. If you need help with branding your business, whether it be a new logo, rebrand, or you simply want to have a print file designed, head on over to And if you’d like to see some examples of my design work, be sure to follow me on Instagram @samanthacarvalhodesign. Finally, please subscribe, rate, and review this podcast on iTunes if you like what you’ve heard. Talk to you soon.

This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests, are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or any other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.