Color Choice in Product Packages & Branding

The human eye can see as many as 10 million colors1. But at the beginning, there is just light. Light receptors transmit messages to the brain, and it is the brain that produces familiar sensations of color.

A Wheel of Colors

Research has shown that color can cause real emotional and physical changes in people and our surroundings. In the world of branding and package design, color can be a catalyst for connecting with consumers that ultimately drives sales and buyer loyalty. Karen Haller, an applied color psychology specialist for consumer branding, recommends that brands begin their color assessment by identifying what their true personality and core values are. “The colors I then recommend communicate on a subconscious level what the words are communicating on a conscious level,” she explains.

For global brands, it’s important to consider both cultural and psychological color influences. Haller explains how “brand owners will want to get their brand and product colors right to elicit the right emotional response to attract their ideal customer and make the sale.”

Reading the rainbow
(By Karen Haller, the UK’s leading authority in applied color psychology for branding).

We never see colors in isolation. Each one has its own set of psychological traits; however, it’s the combination of colors (with the specific tones and proportions) that creates an emotional response.

Red: Red expresses warmth, energy and excitement. It’s the color representing masculinity, stamina, strength, motivation. The negative traits of red can be seen as aggressive, confrontational and defiant. It can cause a visual impact creating a strain.

Orange: Orange can be seen as fun, joy, playful. Negatively it can come across as flippant or frivolous.

Yellow: Yellow expresses happiness, self-confidence and optimism. Negatively yellow can elicit feelings of irritation, anxiety and nervousness.

Pink: Pink is the color that represents femininity. Soft pinks express nurturing, caring, feminine love. Magenta pink expresses feisty feminist traits. Negatively pink can be seen as weak, needy, emasculating.

Blue: Research shows blue to be the world’s favorite color. It evokes feelings of calm, tranquility, trust. Turquoise is dynamic and energizing. Negatively blue can be seen as cold, aloof, even uncaring.

Green: Green expresses feelings of balance and harmony. It provides reassurance, restorative and refreshing. Negatively green can bring up the feelings of boredom, lack of life and stagnation.

Purple: Purple relates to the higher self, truth and inner contemplation. We associate it with spiritual awareness and inner reflection. It also communicates luxury, wealth. Negatively could be seen as losing touch with reality. Using the wrong tone can communicate cheap and nasty, faster than any other color.

Brown: Brown expresses solid and reliable, supportive. Negatively, it can be seen as heavy, dull, lacking sophistication.

White: White represents purity, clarity, simplicity. Negatively it can evoke feelings of cold, sterile, unfriendly, elitism.

Black: Black expresses glamour, sophistication, emotional safety, efficiency. Negatively black can be seen as cold, oppressive, overly serious.

Did You Know?

  • Brides wear red in eastern cultures
  • Red is the Chinese color of good luck and celebrations
  • Red is the color of mourning in South Africa
  • Yellow is the Royal color in Thailand
  • Studies show that green in China is “generally not good for packaging”
  • In India, white is traditionally the only color a widow is allowed to wear
  • Eskimos use 17 words for white to describe different snow conditions

To find out more, download 7 Mistakes Most Business Owners Make with Their Branding Colours at
Twitter: @KarenHaller

1Wyszecki, Gunter. Color. Chicago: World Book Inc, 2006: 824