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Color Theory: How Do Colors Play A Big Role In Consumer Behavior?

by Designhill Tweet - in Graphic Design

Color Theory: How Do Colors Play A Big Role In Consumer Behavior?

Last updated on June 10th, 2023

The world is full of colors. We simply cannot ignore the importance of them in our daily life. The impact of colors is such that they influence our buying decisions as well. It is because colors have a psychological effect on all of us. Now, the color theory is accepted as a guideline for marketers when picking colors to make an impact on the target audience. In this post, we’ll be discussing how colors play a big role in consumer behavior. Have a look.

We may not be so aware of the power of colors while doing our daily chores, but, we like to wear clothes of a certain color while going out. During shopping, we tend to buy things based on colors. While colors are not the sole condition to buy but they play a role in making a purchasing decision.

Various surveys have now pointed out that consumers have particular colors in mind when they come for shopping. Colors play a direct and indirect role in determining our purchasing behavior. For example, red evokes the feeling of aggressiveness, love, and passion. Like, someone going for a date prefers to wear red than any other color.

If we are looking for products that evoke these emotions, then we will pick the products that have a red color in their design. That’s pretty natural or shall we say psychological.

Given that colors have their impact on consumers’ buying decisions, experts have formulated a color theory. Marketers, designers, and other professionals now widely consult the color theory. They incorporate colors in designs to create visual identities after taking guidelines from the theory.

What is color theory?

Graphic designers do not use colors randomly at their will and as it pleases them. A lot of information is available on how colors make an impact on viewers. Designers and artists take advantage of those details while incorporating colors in creative works. Fortunately, there is now a well-accepted color theory for creative people that they can apply for the desired impact.

Color Theory

The color theory is all about formalizing how to use colors to create the desired impact on viewers. Brands can apply the theory to create visual identities and project a brand personality in this way. We can say that color theory comprises some rules and guidelines.

Colors come with their own properties that are hue, chroma, and lighting. Hue is about how a color appears. So, green appears as green. Chroma shows how pure a color is. For instance, does the color have shade, which is black added to it, or it has tints, white added, or Tones, which is gray added.

The color theory comprises three sections: 

  • Color Wheel
  • Color Value
  • Color Schemes


Here Is A Description Of Each Of The Sections

Color Wheel

The color wheel has an order of the color spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo [blue-violet], and violet. There are three types of colors in the wheel. These types are Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary.

Color Wheel

The Primary Colors

Red, yellow, and blue colors are the primary colors that can only be created by using pigments. These are the colors that no two colors can make by mixing. Another characteristic of primary colors is that you can create the rest of the colors on the wheel by mixing primary colors.

The Primary Colors

The Secondary Colors

Orange, green, and purple are the secondary colors. To create these colors, you need to mix any of the two primary colors in equal parts. In this way, you should mix yellow and blue to get green. Mix red and blue to get purple while you can have orange by mixing red and yellow.

The Secondary Colors

The Tertiary Colors

When you mix a secondary color and a primary color in equal parts, it gives you the tertiary colors. In this way, you can have six tertiary colors: red-purple, red-orange, Blue-green, yellow-green, blue-purple, and yellow-orange. You can notice that the first one is the primary color when referring to tertiary colors, and the second is the secondary color. That order should be maintained.

The Tertiary Colors

Color Values

The color value is the second part of color theory. You can determine the darkness or lightness of color by judging the values. When you add black or white to a pure color, it produces value. When adding black to a color, it produces a shade, and as you add white to a color, it results in a tint.

Color Values

Color Schemes

The third part of the color theory is the color scheme. It is all about arranging colors in a planned way to achieve the desired impact on viewers. When picking a color scheme for your design project, you should pay attention to where the colors are placed on the color wheel.

Color Schemes

You will then be considering their shades and tints as well.

● Monochromatic – This color scheme involves only one color. You will use just one color with its shades and tints for impact.


● Analogous colors – On the color wheel, analogous colors are next to each other. Therefore, these colors are used for dramatic effect. Examples of these colors are blue, blue-green, green, and yellow-green; red, red-purple, purple, blue-purple.

Analogous colors

● Complementary colors –Complementary colors are placed across each other on the color wheel. You should use these colors to have a sharp contrast. For example, colors that go with blue are red, orange, etc. Likewise, red goes with green, yellow goes with green, and red goes with purple.

Complementary colors

● Color triads – Color triads are the combination of three colors spaced apart on the color wheel. Examples are these types of colors are red, blue and yellow or orange, green, and purple on the wheel.

Color triads

● Self-complementary – Split complementary color schemes involve one color with its closest analogous colors. Examples of these colors are blue, yellow-orange, and red-orange.


● Warm colors- Warm colors evoke warm feelings. These colors are red, yellow, and orange.

Warm colors

● Cool colors – Blue, purple, and green are cool colors as they evoke calmness.

Cool colors

● Square – Square color scheme is using a variant of tetradic. On the color wheel, these are four colors that are 90° apart. This scheme works when you can use four colors evenly.


How Colors Influence Consumer Behavior?

The color theory helps designers know how to use colors to achieve their design goals strategically. In branding, the ultimate aim of designing a product is to make an impact on consumers. This is where color theory comes into play as it guides the designers in picking the right colors.

Colors have psychological effects on consumers. When they see products such as logos, brochures, packages, website designs, custom tshirt, signages, etc., they react emotionally to the colors used in the design. Often, this emotional reaction leads them to make buying decisions. We can even make a chart of which color evokes which emotional reaction from the consumers.

Here Is The Chart


Red is the color for energy, aggression, love, passion, and all those emotions that charge us in some violent way. Therefore, young consumers are more likely to respond to this color.


When consumers see orange color, generally, they evoke fun, friendliness and energy. Therefore, businesses in food and shelter use orange for these emotions. It is also a color for motivation, positive attitude, hope, and enthusiasm.


Yellow stands for emotions such as optimism, cheerfulness, and happiness. If you want consumers to respond with smiley faces, use yellow in your products. This is also the color for window-front displays.


Use green when you intend to create harmony and balance. Most agriculture products use green to reflect nature and healthy life. Green is also a symbol of growth. If you wish to portray all such qualities and evoke these emotions, then green is the right color. Most restaurants and health-based stores use this color frequently.


Most brands use blue to evoke trust. Social media platforms generally have blue on their websites and logos to win people’s trust and confidence. Consumers like this color for its calming effect. Marketers use blue to build relationships with consumers and the overall audience. For this reason, besides social media, other industries such as hospitals, spas, and workout facilities use blue.


Consumers generally react with emotions of spirituality, energy, and power when they see purple, which is also the color of royalty. This is why luxury brands mostly have purple in their visuals, such as logos, brochures, and packages.


When seeing pink color, consumers evoke tenderness, compassion, and unconditional love. It is also a soothing color, which is why most industries in caring and nurturing use pink. Most ladies’ products have a generous use of pink.


Brown is the color to evoke the feelings of protection and security. Structure related industries also use it. Most home furnishing and coffee shop businesses use brown in their brand identities.


Black evokes the feelings of power and sophistication. Consumers like this color as it stands for seriousness and independence. It is also a color for legibility and high contrast. But do not overuse black or it will convey sadness and negativity.


Consumers from across the world associate gold color with luxury, treasure, charm, and confidence. They also get the message of abundance, prosperity, and friendliness when seeing this color on products and designs. But too much use of this color can also arouse negativity such as pride, ego, and self-righteousness.

Consider Different Cultures

While colors have some universal feelings and emotions, the culture of a region still plays a key role. One-color evoking a certain emotion in a region may not be seen in the same way in other cultures.

For example, red is the color of good fortune in Chinese culture, but it is the color of mourning in South Africa. In the USA, red is the color of sexiness and danger. Given such contrasting effects of colors in different cultures, it is better to first do usability testing of colors before finalizing them for a region’s consumers.

The Psychological Impact Of Colors On Consumers

One of the ways that colors can have a positive impact on consumers’ behavior is psychological. Colors make a psychological impression on them, which leads to making a buying decision. This is because there is now a well-established connection between feelings and colors. It is now well documented that certain colors can evoke certain feelings and emotions. This then leads to a change in our behavior. For example, when we see a blue ocean, it evokes feelings of calmness and excitement.

Science also records the fact that colors meet basic neurological requirements for stimulation. Colors are known for this power to trigger specific responses in the brain. For instance, red color can even raise the pulse rate and blood pressure, while the blue color has the opposite impact on people. This is because red evokes aggressiveness while blue calmness.

How can marketers harness the power of color theory to promote a brand?

Marketers use colors in so many ways to their advantage. When it comes to retailers, they understand how colors can help them in the art of persuasion.

Most studies have now established that when shopping, consumers have colors in mind. These studies have recorded that while marketing, sound, and texture play one and seven percent role in making an impression. But 93% of consumers are impressed by the visual appearance of a product that they intend to buy. Many such studies have revealed that 85% of shoppers think of colors as primary reasons while purchasing a product.

Other studies have shown that colors are responsible for increasing brand recognition by 80%. Remember that a brand gets the recognition of consumers when they have confidence in it and its products.

Color And Types Of Consumers

It has been found that a certain type of consumer is attracted to certain colors more than others.

For instance, impulse shoppers are generally attracted to red, orange, black, royal, and blue. Therefore, businesses in fast food, outlet malls, and clearance sales use these colors widely.

Those shoppers who are on a tight budget, they usually like navy blue. For such consumers, banks, larger department stores incorporate blue in their promotional visuals.

Similarly, traditional buyers are inclined toward pink, sky blue, and rose. Therefore, most clothing stores have these colors in their branding promotion campaign.

These are some of the key points that we raised here to see how color theory impacts consumer behavior. As a business owner or marker, consider the color wheel and other aspects of the theory. You can create meaningful visual identities for your businesses.

But note that consumers will not buy your products based on colors only. There are many other factors, such as prices, marketing, usefulness, uniqueness, etc. that influence consumer behavior. But color is one of the major motivating factors for consumers. With all the other factors well taken care of, following the color theory will help you sell your products even more.

Are you a business owner looking for impressive visual identities such as logos, then launch your design contest at Designhill? This leading creative marketplace is home to thousands of professional designers who know how to apply color theory in creating brand visuals as per design briefs.

Get your logo design and other design products created at this platform to make an impression on your target audience.

Wrapping Up

Colors play a key role in our lives in many ways. They have the power to reflect our moods, emotions, and feelings of the day for us. The color theory comprises the color wheel, color values, and color schemes. Put them together to have a guideline or rule for creating impressive visuals and brand identities that help consumers buy your products or services.

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