What Emotional Responses To Colors Do People Experience?

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emotional responses to colors

Small business owners fret over what their logo looks like. They want it to be clean, cool or fancy. What they should really focus on is how it makes a customer feel since logos play a large role in their purchasing decisions.

Researchers at the University of Amsterdam found that children as young as two years old could recall a logo and its product 67% of the time. By eight, 100% of children tested could associate the logo with the product.

Brand logos are valuable property because they evoke emotions connected with buying. For the first time in the history of Interbrand’s Best Global Brands report, Apple was the top brand. Google jumped to number 2 and Coca-Cola, the brand that held the number one position for 13 years was number three. The total value of all 100 Best Global Brands was $1.5 trillion with the Google brand logo being worth over $100 billion alone.

According to a new research at FinancesOnline, colors evoke a specific emotional response from a customer. This is important since 75% of all buying decision are emotional. Here are what specific colors mean.

Emotional Responses to Colors


Active, passionate, trustful, love, and intensity. Think Coca-Cola and Target. Red Bull wants customers to see their brand as intense and active.


Energy and joy. Think Ferrari, Shell and Best Buy. McDonalds wants customers to associate their brand with happiness.


Creative, determined, joyful and the beach. It can stimulate mental activity. Think Fanta and Firefox. The Home Depot wants to help its customers be creative in the Do-It-Yourself market of home construction and repair.


Often associated with feminine brands. It means love, warmth, sexuality and nurturing. Think Barbie and T-Mobile. Oprah’s Oxygen network is aimed at women.


Depth, stability, calm, trust, comfort, and reliability. Think Samsung, IBM, Intel, GE and Ford. When a customer buys from Nextiva, they know that their office communications will always be reliably delivered.


Relaxing, peaceful, hopeful and natural. Think Starbucks and BP. Heineken beer wants their customers to feel exactly this way.


Associated with the Earth. It means reliability, support, dependability and grounded. Think Godiva Chocolate and M&Ms (at least the brown ones). UPS has become synonymous with this type of consistent reliability.


Formal, mystery, bold, luxurious and serious. Think Blackberry. Customers shop at Tiffany’s for that special occasion.

A logo should not just be “pretty or cool.” Determine what feeling you want your brand to evoke and then choose your colors wisely.

Color Photo via Shutterstock


Barry Moltz Barry Moltz gets small business owners unstuck. With decades of entrepreneurial ventures as well as consulting with countless other entrepreneurs, he has discovered the formula to get business owners marching forward. His newest book, BAM! shows how in a social media world, customer service is the new marketing.

14 Reactions
  1. Do you think Coca Cola lost its number one spot because a lot more people are plugged into the internet in various ways than 10 years ago? That and the increased popularity of smart phones?

    I hear you with the colours. I guess it’s an association I don’t really think about, but I do respond to on some level.

    p.s.: I will never associate Shell with joy.

    • Martin Lindeskog

      Can’t relate to the joy of driving the car with fuel by Shell? The shell symbol has some ring to it.

      • Martin: I guess people have different associations with the symbol, which is OK. It is what it is.

        Shell has caused considerable damage in Nigeria. I’m Nigerian. I therefore do not associate the company or its logo with joy.

  2. I think you are correct…

  3. I also have to add that Red and Orange also sparks appetite. I have read about it and it somehow has an effect on me too. It is a good color to include in food brands.

  4. Great article! I’m right on target with my company’s color PINK. I am the creator and owner of an INSPIRATIONAL/MOTIVATIONAL mma (mixed martial arts) brand made just for women by women. I hope that one day my brand CAGE CANDY will be associated with the color PINK (we even wear pink wigs in honor of women who have/had CANCER~like my Grnadmother, my best friend and my lil’ sis) and what it stands for. Because what we stand for will NEVER go out of style and neither will our motto #FightYourFight because we ALL have one and together we can make a difference and EMPOWER one another to stay STRONG!
    The color P I N K truly represents who we are!

    I really enjoyed your article. Have a Blessed day!
    ~Tracy @CageCandy/LinkedIn/Fb
    Single Mother of 3 and Grandmother of 3

  5. Martin Lindeskog

    Barry: What if you have several colors in your logotype? See my EGO blog banner (an individualist, ego, standing near the skyline of a city and the statue of liberty) as an example.

  6. Nice article Barry with example of each.Thanks for sharing.

  7. Greatly enjoyed the article. A bit confused about identifying Tiffany’s with black… the company is usually identified with their iconic “Tiffany blue” color. Did I miss something?

  8. Context plays a big part of the emotion that a color summons.

    For example, your description of blue and IBM is accurate. The emotions you list are some that are conjured up when I think about the company.

    But if someone tried to serve me a blue steak or vegetables, I would not be thinking depth, stability, calm, trust, comfort, and reliability. I would be thinking spoiled, old, or what is wrong with it.

  9. Check out our logo. It “covers the bases” and has something for everyone!