Although colors have their own general meaning, there’s also a difference in the shades of a certain color and how they express something different. We don’t want to overcomplicate things for this blog post so we’ll keep things simple when talking through the shades of colors and what those shades can mean. To build a strong brand that aligns with your business, you have to be intentional and strategic about the decisions you make…which includes the colors you choose.
Various Meanings of the Color Red
The color red is really dominating. It expresses high energy and passion. Reds are either all GO or all NO. It represents danger, adventure, and excitement. Red is highly attention-grabbing which is why you see them on stop signs, flags, and really anywhere you need instant attention. It’s why people dressed in red are noticed first. Or ladies who want to draw attention to their lips…bring on the bright red lipstick!
Anything in darker shades of color tends to bring on a more serious mood. When it comes to dark reds, specifically, most people associate them with blood. With a color similar to maroon, the mind starts connecting it with evil, danger, or rage. Not all the time, but most. Light reds start leaning towards pinks, and depending on the tint of that light red, it can express femininity, romance, or sensitivity.
Various Meanings of the Color Orange
You get orange from mixing the colors red and yellow, and the combination of these colors is a formula for something bright, warm, and fun. Orange is associated with creativity, joyfulness, and a youthful spirit.
Because orange has a bit of red, the more an orange has, the more aggressive and dominating it can get. Again, it’s all about that shade. The redder an orange has, the loud and bold it gets. But a darker, more muddy orange can come across as deceitful or lacking confidence A light orange gives off a feeling of warmth, friendliness, and enthusiasm.
Various Meanings of the Color Yellow
Yellow is often associated with the sun. It’s bright and represents high energy, radiates positivity, and is a color that just gives off a good vibe all around.
A darker yellow can look a bit dingy. And with a dirty yellow, it comes across as a little tired because it lacks the brightness of a regular yellow. With the mood of something that lacks energy, darker yellows can also be associated with sickness or jealousy. A yellow that has more orange though can represent wealth because it closely resembles gold. A lighter yellow is uplifting and cheerful and softer than bright yellow.
Various Meanings of the Color Green
In our environment, the biggest greens we see are trees and grass. This is why the color green is most often associated with nature. Greens are also connected with wealth and health (here’s your friendly reminder to eat your veggies!).
Dark greens are most associated with greed and jealousy (here comes the mood that comes with the darker shades of colors). Light greens are most often associated with renewable energy, sustainability, and freshness. You might see a lot of greens in businesses that revolve around renewable energy, recycling, and sustainability.
Various Meanings of the Color Blue
The color blue is usually associated with the sky and ocean because it’s probably the biggest blue thing we see in our day-to-day environment and often represents open spaces, freedom, imagination, trust, loyalty, and dependability.
Darker blues are a bit more serious so it often comes across as authoritative, strong, and can’t easily be pushed around. Blue can come across as a little cold and standoffish so be sure to balance it with warm complementary colors or include lighter blues that are more inviting, peaceful, calm, and relaxing.
Various Meanings of the Color Purple
The color purple was used to symbolize royalty throughout history so it’s often associated with royalty, spirituality, or something magical. It can mean a variety of things, but it’s best connected with extravagance, creativity, wisdom, and mystery.
Dark purples can represent sadness or frustration so when using this color, make sure to find the right balance of a complementary color like yellow or orange. The lighter purples have a slight romantic energy that gives off a more relaxing, soothing feeling.
Various Meanings of the Color Brown
Brown usually represents something organic or natural…from the earth. That’s why a lot of businesses that develop or produce natural products use brown in their brand visuals. Brown is associated with something that’s wholesome, grounded, honest, and durable.
Dark browns are strong, modern, and simple while lighter browns are natural and authentic. Be careful when using brown though. Brown can also be associated with dirt, soil, and dirt. So depending on your industry, you should be extra intentional when using this color. You can add a little red to make it more inviting and warm or blues to make it dark and rich. Just be sure to think through the rest of your color palette to make the colors work for your brand.
Various Meanings of the Color White
The color white represents purity, cleanliness, and simplicity. Packaging that’s primarily white, like Apple, for example, feels clean and modern. When designed correctly, it can even feel expensive. And depending on the shade of white, you can alter the mood. Darker whites will come across as cold and masculine, but warmer whites are inviting and relaxing.
Various Meanings of the Color Black
The color black is timeless and will never really go out of style. Depending on how the color black is used, it can symbolize power, elegance, mystery, and sophistication. It can also evoke evil, sadness, and anger. You would think black is black, but darker, rich blacks are a little more harsh and bold while lighter blacks are slightly more inviting and can look really sharp and sophisticated. Ever try putting a rich dark black and a flat light black? Looks super modern, elegant, and expensive.
Color Meaning Recap
Here’s a quick summary of the colors and their meaning.
Red: Danger, Passion, and Excitement
Orange: Creative, Warm, and Youthful
Yellow: Happy, Optimistic, and Cheerful
Green: Nature, Freshness, and Wealth
Blue: Loyal, Dependable, and Calming
Purple: Royalty, Majesty, and Mystery
Brown: Organic, Natural, and Authentic
White: Clean, Modern, and Minimal
Black: Timeless, Sophistication, and Formal