color therapy

What Color Theory Can Reveal About Your Business


What is color theory and what does that mean for my business? Here at AGC, we’ve been discussing branding and have shared how we establish brand identity using archetypes, logos, and more. But these elements cannot stand alone without a color palette that establishes specific associations between your brand and consumers. Color theory, used with intention, can keep your brand cohesive, and dynamic to new audiences, and influence consumer behavior.

A study performed by the University of Loyola Maryland stated that “color increases brand recognition by up to 80%.” Further research has shown that “color has a significant impact on sales since  ‘people make a subconscious judgment about a . . . product within 90 seconds of initial viewing and . . . between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on color alone.’”

Importance of Color

Brand strategists understand the importance of building a brand’s color palette by taking into account factors such as target audience, psychological/emotional associations with color, and the overall message that the brand is trying to communicate to consumers. We use color theory to help guide our decision-making process as we build the element of a business’s brand identity.

What is Color Theory?

By definition, color theory is both the science and the art of color; it attempts to explain how humans perceive color, both literally and psychologically, and what kinds of messages colors communicate. This is based off of the color wheel, first created by Sir Isaac Newton. The color wheel contains 12 base colors, which are separated into three primary colors (red, blue, and yellow), three secondary colors (green, orange, and purple), and six tertiary colors (colors made from primary and secondary colors, such as blue-green or red-violet). Colors can then be divided into even more subsets, but we’ll stick with the basics for now. 

Each of these colors comes with a host of natural associations that designers need to be aware of. For example, red is often associated with passion. From a branding standpoint, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s are almost always associated with this color. Blue is said to be calming and is used a lot in non-profit and healthcare companies to communicate safety, reassurance, and care. Black is dark, powerful, and often paired with brands that serve luxury goods and experiences.

color therapy

Color Theory & Your Bottom Line

To create depth and personality, brand designers use color harmonies which are colors paired together in visually and emotionally pleasing ways. Color harmonies help your brand evoke certain emotions, create a particular mood, and add context to your images and graphics. Colors not paired well can read as bland or boring, while too much color intensity can actually prevent the viewer’s brain from even processing the colors in front of them. Navigating associations and harmonies between colors can be an exciting challenge and the color wheel helps keep that process grounded in strategy. 

Once your colors have been established, color hierarchy helps companies ensure that they are using their colors the right way. Generally, brands have 1-2 primary colors that are more heavily utilized and what consumers are “taught” to associate with that brand. For example, Starbucks has its primary logo which features a dark forest green and white. But when you take a look at their brand guidelines, they actually have up to four shades of green, four neutral colors, and a host of other colors that they rotate out seasonally. And yet, Starbucks is consistent in its use of the dark forest green, regardless of what they are marketing or the season of the year. If your brand colors are blue and gold, but you start using orange and purple in your marketing, over time, your consumers will begin to lose a sense of who you are and what you stand for. 

So why should this matter to your business’s bottom line? With colors and color schemes, you’re prepared to make effective branding decisions, remain consistent in your marketing and brand visuals, and even help you understand your competition on a deeper level. At AGC, we help small business owners create and develop brands that buzz! If you are in need of a brand identity or need to sweep the cobwebs off of your current one, contact us to get started!

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