The Emotional Impact of Color



Designing a new logo for a brand, especially travel/destination, requires careful consideration of the competitive set, content and how people perceive visual information. After shape, color is the most powerful element in creating brand recognition. It is also the most subjective element because it triggers strong emotions. And to further complicate the matter, individuals, as well as cultures, perceive color differently.

We often associate color with a variety of events, rites of passage, and objects. Things we taste, such as a lime or orange, generate color imagery. So does the scent of a pine forest or a bouquet of lilacs. Certain colors are often associated with emotions, such as blue with loyalty, yellow with cowardice, and purple with spirituality.


Some ancient societies believed in the healing power of color: red for energy, blue to reduce allergies. Although modern society is skeptical of such “powers”, consider this: babies born today with jaundice (a yellowing of the skin) are treated by exposure to a blue light which triggers a positive metabolic reaction.

In western cultures, some wear white to symbolize cleanliness, virtue or chastity. In China, white is associated with grief and mourning. In western culture black has negative associations — the dark side, blacklisted, the Black Plague, black magic and death. Our language uses color in euphemisms — the grass is always greener, don’t be a yellow belly, or his face was red as a beet. In the past few years the color green has taken on new-found meaning while becoming the color and word of the decade. Whether through subjectivity, spirituality or science, colors create meaning in our world.

Research shows that 60% of a purchase decision is based on color.



Sometimes that color is not defined in the logo itself, but how it is applied to the overall brand to stimulate recognition. UPS utilizes brown as their signature color on vehicles and uniforms, and even verbally in their campaign slogan “What can Brown do for you?” Tiffany’s is infamous for their little blue box and Target uses red everywhere.




But be careful: similar industries often use similar color palettes. Many beach resorts and coastal destinations use medium soft blues with some soft yellows and/or oranges in their palettes. Ski resorts tend to use a lot of cold blues and white. This is why carefully considering color palette for your destination brand is critical as you move forward with the implementation of your logo and the brand identity grid.

Sara Tack is EVP of Image and Identity for Wanderlust, a travel and destination marketing firm that specializes in communications strategies, Internet marketing, branding and management consulting for the tourism industry.


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