Why Your Brand Needs Primary and Secondary Colors: The Power of Color Psychology in Branding

brand color psychology brand colors business colors color psychology visibility May 01, 2023


Whenever I start with a client who's interested in polishing or revving up their brand presence, I always start with color.

9 times out of 10, the colors they've chosen have either been a reflection of themselves or something they just threw in to get by.

I have found, however, that color is a crucial element of brand identity that can have a significant impact on consumer behavior + perception.

The use of color psychology in branding is a proven way to:

  • Enhance brand recognition.
  • Create emotional connections with consumers.
  • Differentiate a brand from its competitors.

Remember, 93% of a sale is attributed to color choice alone. That means someone buys because of how they are drawn physically/emotionally/mentally to a product.

One effective way to leverage color psychology in branding is to have primary + secondary colors that represent the brand + its values.

I always think choosing the right colors for your brand requires a deep understanding of your target audience's demographics, psychographics + culture. You have to understand the context of where they live, how they were raised, what they are used to seeing + most importantly - how they communicate daily with color without even knowing it.

Different colors can have different meanings + associations in different contexts worldwide...so how do we decipher the code + choose the right colors?

I'll show you.




The Importance of Having a Primary and Secondary Color in Branding

Before we get started, we need to understand the differences between primary + secondary colors. It's not as simple as choosing two colors we like or {what I hear most often!} our favorite colors. Remember, this is about our CLIENT, not ourselves.

The choices must be intentional!

A primary color = The dominant color that represents how we want our ideal client to FEEL the first time they see us online. A visual representation of how we can help them.

A secondary color = A visual cue of how we support them along the journey of working with us.

I could go into all the technical reasoning behind choosing complementary colors, palettes + brand identity...but it honestly all starts here with the ideal client or customer.

THEY are who we have to keep in mind when building our visual identity. Because otherwise - how can we expect them to buy?

For my beautiful naysayers who have built a million-dollar brand without doing this, let me dive into why color choices are so critical for getting to the next level...


Having a primary + secondary color in branding is absolutely essential for several reasons.

Brand Recognition and Differentiation

A primary color serves as the visual anchor of a brand identity, making it easier for consumers to recognize + remember the brand.

Consistently using the primary color across different touchpoints, such as the logo, website, packaging + advertising materials, can increase brand recognition + recall.

There are so many studies linking increased memory to recognizing color patterns!

A secondary color can be used to add depth + variety to the brand's visual identity, making it more interesting + engaging for consumers.

Having a distinctive primary + secondary color combination can also help a brand stand out from its competitors.

In a crowded market, brands that use colors that are different from their competitors can grab consumers' attention + create a memorable impression.

Think of Apple. Think of T-Mobile. Think of Taco Bell.

Let me share a quick example for you right now. There are so many brands that share colors. Just take a look around your house or neighborhood. However, if I said to think about the primary color as RED + a secondary color as WHITE, what would be the first brand you think of?

For me, it’s Coca-Cola! They have done a great job using their color psychology in branding even though they compete with many other great companies that share their branding colors…Coke stands out! {More on this and interesting examples later!}

If you've been following me for any amount of time + have read my book, you immediately know that red was chosen to get people excited about the drink. To feel "cool." To up the heart rate + make people think that when they're outside having fun with friends, this is the perfect drink!

Color has a direct impact on our emotions + behaviors. When you understand the psychology of color, you can use it to your advantage to create a strong + memorable brand identity!


Consistency and Cohesiveness

Using a consistent primary + secondary color palette across different touchpoints can create a sense of cohesiveness + professionalism that reflects positively on your brand over time.

A cohesive color palette can also make it easier for brands to create + update branding materials, as the colors can guide design decisions. Think of it this way...

You may start with your website. Then update your brand photos wearing your colors. Then add graphics throughout your social feeds. Then your customer groups. Then your ads. You can see how incredibly widespread this can become.

When you have visual consistency- consumers are more likely to trust + engage with your brand!

Trust has a huge part in what we, as consumers, engage with. If you’ve been reading along with my blogs, you know that trust is one of the MAJOR reasons we like the companies we do. I would even argue that building a cohesive brand + using color psychology is one of the most important steps to take when starting a business to ensure that, moving forward, you are already setting yourself up for subconscious success with your customer.

I always get this huge rush of gratitude every time I get a new customer that says, "I don't know what it was. I found you online + automatically had this huge amount of trust in you. I knew you could help me!"


Flexibility + Adaptability

While a primary color represents a brand's identity, values + primary emotion for a customer, it is important to have a secondary color that can be used in different contexts + for different purposes.

For example, a brand might use a different secondary color for:

  • Their course, workshop, or deliverable.
  • A seasonal campaign.
  • A special edition product.
  • Social media posts.

Having a versatile secondary color can make it easier for brands to adapt to changing circumstances without sacrificing consistency + cohesiveness.

It's also extremely important to bring in this support depending on how your message pivots throughout the year.

For example, I mainly "speak" blue in my messaging. I'm teaching processes + strategies + helping you figure things out with your visibility, right?

But my call-to-action buttons are yellow. I'm sparking your brain to make a decision about your future by using it.

Making sense?


Emotional and Psychological Impact

Colors have the power to evoke different emotions + associations in people, making them a powerful tool for brand messaging.

Choosing the right primary + secondary colors based on color psychology can help a brand create a specific mood or convey a particular message.

For example...

Blue is often associated with trust, security + calmness.

While red is associated with passion, excitement + urgency.

A brand that wants to convey a sense of reliability + trustworthiness might choose blue as its primary color, while a brand that wants to create a sense of excitement + urgency might choose red as its primary color!

This is why most news channels use one color or the other!


How to Choose Primary and Secondary Colors Using Color Psychology

Choosing the right primary + secondary colors for a brand requires a deep understanding of color psychology + how it can influence consumer behavior + perception. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when selecting primary + secondary colors for your brand:


Brand Identity, Values + Personality

As we spoke about before, the primary + secondary colors should align with the brand's identity, values + client's emotions!

So, for example, a brand that focuses on health + wellness might choose green as its primary color to convey a sense of nature, renewal + growth.

A brand that wants to convey a sense of luxury + sophistication might choose purple or gold as its primary color.

The secondary color should complement the primary color + enhance its message of how a goal is delivered.

Another example of a cohesive message is if a brand that uses green as its primary color might then use a calming shade of orange to support the message of growth but also promote harmony!


Target Audience Demographics, Psychographics + Culture

The primary + secondary colors should also take into account the target audience's demographics, psychographics + culture.

Different colors can have different meanings + associations in different cultures + age groups!

For example- Red is a lucky color in Chinese culture, while white is associated with mourning in many Asian cultures.

A brand that targets young + trendy consumers might use bright + bold colors, while a brand that targets older + more conservative consumers might use more muted + traditional colors.

This is why digging deeper is important.

Choosing your colors isn’t just up to what colors you like or just its messaging. When looking for our brand colors, we must know the full story each color provides while also digging a bit deeper into the historical context of each one.

The sum of your brand holds so much value, and so do the colors we see!

**If you are interested in reading more about each specific main color + learning some history on them, my book Color Secrets goes into depth about these topics and is the perfect place to start learning more about what you are communicating!**


Industry Trends and Competition

It is also important to consider industry trends + competition when choosing primary + secondary colors.

A brand that wants to stand out from its competitors might choose colors that are different from the industry norm, while a brand that wants to blend in might choose colors that are more common.

Keeping up with the latest color trends + consumer preferences can also help a brand stay relevant + fresh by learning what resonates with your audience right now or ways to use the latest trends in your brand.  




Successful Branding with Primary + Secondary Colors

Many successful brands have leveraged the power of color psychology by using a primary + secondary color to create a strong + memorable brand identity.

Here are a few examples:


Coca-Cola's primary color is red, which represents passion, excitement + happiness. The secondary color is white, which creates a sense of purity + simplicity.

The combination of red + white is iconic + instantly recognizable, making Coca-Cola one of the world's most successful + beloved brands.



Starbucks' primary color is green, which represents nature, growth + health. The secondary color is black, which creates a sense of sophistication + elegance.

The combination of green + black is consistent across all touchpoints, creating a cohesive + recognizable brand identity.

{this is why they are the #2 RESTAURANT BRAND in the world!}

Starbucks | Main Street Takoma


Nike's primary color is black, which represents power, strength + athleticism. The secondary color is white, which creates a sense of simplicity + clarity.

The combination of black + white is versatile and adaptable to different contexts + purposes, making Nike's branding materials stand out + resonate with consumers.

The $35 Nike Swoosh Logo Design Story – Logo Histories



Having a primary + secondary color is a powerful way to leverage color psychology in branding + create a strong + memorable brand identity.

By choosing primary + secondary colors that align with the brand's identity, target audience + purpose, brands can enhance brand recognition, differentiation, consistency + emotional impact.

By taking time to study successful brands that use primary + secondary colors effectively, you can learn from their strategies + adapt them to their own unique needs + goals. 

Everything is intentional when it comes to branding, and starting with your branding colors is the way to pave the way for your business to be successful!






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