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It may not surprise you to learn that when branding your business, looks mean everything. A whopping 93 percent of consumers place visual appearance and color above all other factors when shopping, surveys from Kissmetrics show. What’s more, 85 percent say color is their primary reason for buying. Does that mean that because Pantone named Buttercup a hot color for spring you should start using bright yellow in all your marketing materials?

Not necessarily: You should always stay true to the colors and visuals familiar to your audience. On the other hand, you may just be starting out in business or ready for a branding makeover. For business owners in need of a whole new look, the importance of choosing the right colors for your branding can’t be emphasized enough.

Here’s an overview of the psychology of color and what emotions and images colors can bring to your branding.

Black: For a clean and modern look, shades of black and gray are recommended. These shades can also signify authority and power. Be careful with how much black you use, as it can imply evil. In marketing materials, black stands out the best against other colors. However, it’s not to be used as a background on websites, as it makes them too hard to read.

White: White is clean and symbolizes innocence and purity. It’s simple and light; other colors stand out best against white. Too much white, however, could come off as stark and cold.

Red: Red attracts attention and projects energy and excitement. It can also convey intensity and sometimes anger.

Green: Green is calming and can symbolize luck, generosity, peace, the environment and wealth. Green and white look great together. Green is positive and nurturing. On the negative side, the color green can imply materialism and a possessive nature.

Blue: When people are asked their favorite color, “blue” is the most popular answer. Blue puts people in a good mood and creates a sense of calmness. Watch out, though: Some shades of blue can seem cold and institutional.

Yellow: Yellow is cheery and stimulates the brain. It is the color of new ideas and inquisitiveness. But it can also be overwhelming if there’s too much or if it’s too bright.

Purple: Purple shades have been shown to help balance the mind and calm fears. Purple can also convey royalty, wealth, femininity and wisdom. Combining the energy and strength of red with the spirituality and integrity of blue, it stimulates the imagination and inspires.

When using color in your branding and marketing material, you need to test the colors in every aspect of your business, from business cards to your website to signage and more. Here are a few tips:

  • Bright, vibrant colors can sometimes make people squint and cause headaches if used over too large an area or too frequently. Use these shades sparingly and combine them with neutrals.
  • High-contrast colors work well when seen from a distance. Use contrasting colors in your store signage and in presentations to large groups.
  • If you’re not sure what color combinations work well together, look at common color schemes.
  • Search the Web for websites you like and take note of the colors used and what caught your attention.
  • Don’t use complementary colors together (colors that are across from one another on the color wheel, like red and green or yellow and purple).
  • Different colors can attract different kinds of shoppers. For instance, red/orange and royal blue attract impulse buyers, while teal and navy attract shoppers on a budget.