The Meanings of Colors

Color Produces Emotional Responses

In my previous post, How to Use Color for Branding, I discussed how color produces emotional responses that can then be used to brand and market your products and services to your preferred audiences.

In this post, I will discuss the meanings and target audiences for each of the main colors.

This is not a full comprehensive list but intended as a guide and starting point for color understanding.

I whole-heartedly encourage you to do your own exploration and testing to find the right colors for you and your brand.


Active, Passionate, Love, Intensity, Strength, Memorable.

Red is the most powerful of all colors and can elicit likewise powerful emotions and responses. Think of all the big brands who have used red in their logos, such as Coca Cola, Kellogg’s, Target, KFC, and McDonalds, and please do not be afraid to use it if it fits into your scheme.

Red calls your viewers to attention and is the most memorable of colors as well. Its target audience include people who are courageous, energetic, and love life in a big way. Some studies have found that men find women who wear red more visually attractive.

Different shades of red elicit different emotions, so study up on them to achieve the look and feel you are after.

I have used red in my past branding because my stock photography portfolio centered around bright colors and I wanted to call to attention my target audience: the buyers who want to break away from the more generic stock imagery. However, I must confess I love red as well.


Warmth, Enthusiastic, Success, Friendly, Flamboyance, Stimulating.

Orange is a combination of red and yellow and elicits responses as a halfway meeting ground for both.

It is a bright and impactful color, but it also has its 'repel audience', which is youth. Youthful audiences prefer yellow to orange so be aware of this and substitute yellow if you are targeting a younger audience.

Orange is a hot color and will grab attention quickly but is often listed as one of the least favored colors in a broad range of demographics, so use it wisely. Studies have shown that it can best be used, being a citrus color, for healthy food and is also known to stimulate the appetite as well. Also perfect for Fall harvest season.

Use for adult, happy, go-getter audiences, or for celebrations. Use yellow for the younger audiences.


Joyful, Energetic, Fresh, Optimistic, Youthful.

Yellow is best used to promote childrens' products, or anything bright, happy, cheerful and young.

Different shades of yellow can decide how eye-catching you want your site to be.

Yellow may repel a male audience who generally think it is childish. And avoid it if you want to signify stablity and refinement.

Think young, fresh, springtime and sunshine, and yellow should be the color for you.


Love, Romantic, Playful, Compassionate, Sweet, Soft.

Pink! What can I say? Wonderful, adorable, beautiful pink. It is one of the red colors but so special that the marketing industry has christened it with its own generational name, “Millennial Pink”.

Pink may sometimes repel a masculine audience but for others, it is a veritable magnet. Experiment with all the different hues from lollipop and fuchsia pinks through to the lighter shades, to see what fits.

A word of warning: Blush Pink, being on the outside perimeter of the color wheel, is considered a neutral and therefore will register as having no color to the eye. Yes, it is a beautiful shade, but will leave no lasting memories with your audience to connect to.

Rose Gold

Joyful, Energetic, Fresh, Optimistic, Youthful.

Gold tinted shade of pink.

A relatively new phenomenon within color psychology is how the color Rose Gold has made such a big entrance into the branding and marketing industry.

Rose Gold communicates luxury and has a sense of calmness. It alleviates anger and is associated with style, elegance, and affluence.

Because Rose Gold is flattering to most skin tones, the color has spread to fashion, beauty, and accessories. Made even more famous by Apple's rose gold devices and accessories.


Trust, Security, Stability, Peace, Responsibility, Calmness.

If you have a financial site or in any way need to help build trust with your audience, then blue is definitively the color to choose.

Blue is often the color associated with men, but it was not until after World War II that blue was the color for boys and pink for girls. In fact, a hundred years ago the colors were reversed, and little baby boys were often dressed in pink.

In many studies, blue is voted as the most popular color of all, and often the top choice for both men and women, so can be treated as gender neutral.

Blue is one color that can be safely used in your color scheme as it has the least chance of repelling any specific demographic.


Fresh, Calm, Hopeful, Health, Healing, Balance, Renewal.

Green is a mix of blue and yellow and so combines the qualities of both – trust and serenity with a good dash of sunshine!

It is often the second most popular color for many people. Depending on the shade, it is associated with health, growth, freshness, and naturalness, and often used for mature, professional brands.

Because green is associated with the recycling logo, it is an ideal color to use for eco-friendly or organic products and services, or those associated with environmental issues.

Green is another gender-neutral color.


Uniqueness, clarity, calmness, renewal, strength, growth.

Teal is that beautiful shade in between green and blue and combines the attributes of both. It can include shades like torquoise, aqua, and cyan, and symbolizes the meeting of sea and sky.

Other attributes also include concentration, trust, imagination, and sophistication.

Because it is very easy on the eyes and gender neutral, use teal for a generic appeal where you want to convey a fresh, modern or inspiring aesthetic.

Teal is one of my favorite colors, especially for branding, and combines well especially with complimentary colors from the opposite side of the color wheel..


Glamor, Luxury, Nostalgia, Spiritual, Mysterious, Sensual, Ambition, Vintage.

Purple is a combination of red and blue, and combines the attention-seeking qualities of red but toning it down with the calmness of blue.

Purple is commonly associated with royalty and luxury. It is also used for vintage products or services with a nostalgic appeal.

Purple is highly popular with women and young girls, but one of the colors least favored by men. However you can use it for festive occasions like Mardi Gras.

I have always thought that purple is a great color to use with chocolate (sensual) and then a friend recently pointed out to me that it is the brand color of chocolate manufacturer, Cadbury. But of course!

Gray & Neutrals

Control, Logic, Precision, Technology, Lacks Emotion, Neutrality.

Grays and neutrals are extremely popular now in decorating and with suppliers of stock photography. This coincided with the rise in the demand for more authentic looking stock photography about 5 years ago.

The main problem with neutral shades is that they do nothing for branding. Neutral tones are the shades that you find on the external perimeter of the color wheel. Because the eye registers neutral tones as having no color, they leave no lasting memory with its viewers.

Even though neutrals are less likely to turn away audiences, the downside is that you will have less chance of attracting YOUR target audience as well.

Neutrals signify gentle, calming, subtle, conservatism but are different to black and white, as they lack contrast and visual impact.

Black & White

Sophistication, simplicity, drama, impact, contrast, purity.

Both black and white symbolize purity, with black being the absence of light and white combining all the colors of the light spectrum.

Black signifies sophistication, strength, authority, formality, and elegance. White denotes innocence, the true balance of all colors, cleanliness, simplicity, perfection, and purity of mind.

Combined together, black and white, make a powerful impact on the senses, and can be used to portray refinement and timelessness.

More powerful than grays and neutral tones, the combination of black and white will add more boldness, bring more attention, and leave a longer lasting impression of your work, site, or products.

About Us

Milleflore Images specializes in photography, graphic design, and stop motion video, with on-trend themes for designers and online marketplace sellers. We love to create imagery, such as product mockups, shop banners, listing videos and social media sets, to help your business grow.

Milleflore Images, the author of these articles, has a Bachelor of Business, diplomas in photography and graphic design, and a background in accounting, marketing, and business consulting.