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The Psychology of Color in Social Media

The Psychology of Color in Social Media

Home Blog Social Media The Psychology of Color in Social Media

What comes to your mind when you think of McDonald’s? The significant yellow arch? What about Starbucks? Do you instantly picture their green logo?

Color significantly impacts how people behave, make decisions, and remember things. In fact, up to 90% of people’s initial impressions are based on color.

In such a scenario, isn’t it wrong to only focus on the logo placement, visuals, and copy for social media marketing? Shouldn’t we consider the psychology behind the hues we choose for our social media posts?

In this article, we’ll help you understand the impact of color psychology on social media marketing, the emotions different colors evoke in people, and the kind of color palette you can use for your business.

Let’s turn you into a color psychology expert!

Digital marketing campaign

What is Color Psychology?

Color psychology is a science that believes colors elicit an emotional or physical reaction in people and thus affect how they behave. When it comes to marketing and branding, this theory is concerned with how colors impact people’s purchasing decisions or whether or not they can stimulate a desired action, like subscribing to a free trial.

Whether you want to create enthusiasm around your UGC campaign, or create trust around your product, the right choice of colors can help you do that.

For example, when HubSpot changed its CTA button’s color from green to red, it saw 21% more conversions.

How Does Color Psychology Affect Social Media Marketing?

According to Gallup’s research, 70% of decisions we make are based on emotional factors, and only 30% are based on rational factors.

So, the decisions like “Which apparel to buy?” or “Do I engage with this brand on social media?” or “Does this social media post appeal to me?” are mostly based on emotional reasoning.

As color impacts emotions, we can safely conclude that color has an important say in decision-making as well.

This means the colors you use for your social media posts, stories, or videos, can help drive important behaviors and direct people’s attention to the desired elements in your content.

The Psychology of Different Colors

As with most psychology research, the way color psychology works is highly subjective. For example, many people will associate and interpret different colors according to their experiences, history, cultures, etc.

But some standard color meanings and interpretations hold true, like associating red with strong emotions. You can use these interpretations and cues to guide your social media design and creation. Here are some examples of colors and brands that use this psychology in their social media posts.

Table of Contents:


Red is a bold and dynamic color associated with various emotions like love, terror, excitement, anger, passion, and energy. Depending on the context, the color can be used to show friendliness or aggression.

For example, you’ll see many companies like YouTube using red for their CTA buttons since the color compels people to take action.

Which brands should use red?

This color works best for brands that want to express strong emotions or create a striking image to stand out. It is also an appetite-inducing color and is used by food brands.

Examples of brands that use red on social media

Coca-Cola, Heinz, Colgate.

Here’s how Colgate draws attention with a red background for this Instagram post.

Red color theory colgate Instagram post


If you don’t want to put up a bold image, yet want to grab people’s attention, orange is the color for your brand. It evokes emotions like enthusiasm, friendliness, creativity, adventure, confidence, and courage.

It’s best used for content with a cheerful and comforting vibe. For example, using it for social media posts that talk about an exciting deal, or upcoming product features that your target audience was waiting for.

Which brands should use orange?

The color is best used by brands who want to portray a positive image without being too dramatic. It’s also used by brands that focus on creativity, like DIY product sellers.

Examples of brands that use orange on social media

HubSpot, Home Depot, Fanta.

Here’s how Home Depot uses orange to showcase a creative craft workshop for kids.

Orange color theory The home depot Instagram post


What do yellow and sunshine have in common? They both evoke the feeling of joy, happiness, warmth, optimism, and positivity. This color is used to lift people’s spirits, inspire them, and increase their confidence.

P.S. Avoid using yellow too much for your social media content as it is also known to make people more critical, leading to self-esteem issues, anxiety, irrationality, and fear.

Which brands should use yellow?

This color is most used by brands that celebrate feelings of happiness and satisfaction. For example, IKEA uses yellow in their branding because they celebrate the feeling of happiness when people buy new homes and need furniture.

Examples of brands that use yellow on social media

Lipton, IKEA, Snapchat, Bumble.

Here’s how Lipton created a yellow-toned “thank you” reel when it reached 100K followers.

Yellow color theory ikea Instagram post


What do you think of when you imagine the color green? Nature? Money? These two common associations show that green is used for growth, peace, relaxation, freshness, well-being, and generosity.

It is also associated with negative traits like greed and envy, but its positive associations far outweigh the negative ones.

Which brands should use green?

The color is best used by brands that offer sustainable, health-related, or organic products. It is also used by service companies like yoga centers, fitness studios, and financial firms.

Examples of brands that use green on social media

Whole Foods, Shopify, John Deere.

Here’s how Shopify uses green to share a customer’s growth story.

Green color theory shopify Instagram post


Blue signifies trust, reliability, responsibility, and strength. It’s not as dominant as the colors red and orange, but still manages to elicit important emotions like calmness, peace, stability, and harmony.

It’s also one of the most liked colors, and you’ll see it used on websites and marketing material a lot.

P.S. Overusing this color isn’t ideal, as this color is also perceived as distant, cold, and unfriendly.

Which brands should use blue?

Companies that want to showcase dependability and trustworthiness often use this color. For example, tech brands, healthcare brands, and safety product sellers often use blue.

Examples of brands that use blue on social media

LinkedIn, Calm, Mention.

Here’s how Calm uses blue to portray an important message to its audience.

Blue color theory calm Instagram post


Purple is considered to be a royal color. People often associate it with luxury, sophistication, power, wisdom, and loyalty.

This color is one of the most interesting ones, as it is used for luxury as well as mystery and creativity.

Be cautious while using this color as it is also known to cause thoughts to wander and lead to distraction.

Which brands should use purple?

Brands that want to showcase their products or the experience they provide as superior and elegant often use this color. For example, luxury fashion or lifestyle brands.

Examples of brands that use purple on social media

Hallmark, Babies “R” Us, Cadbury.

Here’s how Hallmark uses purple color on its Facebook timeline.

Purple color theory hallmark Instagram post


In color psychology, pink is associated with kindness, love, compassion, empathy, and playfulness. Because of its soothing characteristics, it is the perfect color to create content that wants to showcase your caring and understanding side.

P.S. Avoid using this color in abundance unless you want to portray an immature or playful image.

Which brands should use pink?

While pink is no longer regarded as a feminine color, many female-led consumer brands still use the color vigorously. It is even used by toy brands and kids’ clothing brands.

Examples of brands that use pink on social media

Barbie, Victoria’s Secret, Mary Kay.

Here’s how Barbie splashes its Instagram profile with pink to promote its movie.

Pink color theory barbie Instagram post


Much like purple, black is often related to mystery, sophistication, luxury, and elegance. It is often used for text as it’s easy to read and goes well with lighter colors.

Since it’s a very powerful color and is also related to death and mourning, companies in the health domain tend to avoid using it.

Which brands should use black?

As many of us tend to use black as a synonym for “cool”, automobile companies, luxury product sellers, and sports companies often gravitate towards black.

Examples of brands that use black on social media

Nike, Chanel, Calvin Klein.

Here’s how Chanel uses black to give limelight to its product.

Black color theory channel Instagram post


This color is often connoted as an earthy color and relates to security, comfort, and groundedness. It does a great job of evoking feelings about the natural world, and something organic and wholesome.

It is also used as an alternative to black to give a contrasting effect to the content.

P.S. Don’t overuse it, as too much brown can make your social media feed look boring and reserved.

Which brands should use brown?

Because of its outdoorsy image, brown is often used by brands that offer all-natural or organic products. It is also used by chocolate and coffee brands because of their product’s significance to the color brown.

Examples of brands that use brown on social media

Lindt, Godiva Chocolatier, UPS.

Here’s how Lindt uses brown to celebrate World Chocolate Day.

Brown color theory lindt Instagram post

How to Choose a Color Palette for Social Media Marketing?

You can either stick to one color for all your social media posts, or you can have a color palette of 2-3 colors to add variety to your profile.

Let’s go through all the options.

Use Monochromatic Tones

When we think of an aesthetically pleasing visual for our social media posts, we often think of using different colors. But what if you could achieve an even better result using different hues of the same color?

While some people automatically think of black and white when it comes to monochromatic tones, there’s a lot you can do with monochromatic color schemes for any color on the color wheel.

Monochromatic Tones

This is best used for content where you don’t want colors to create any distracting effect. It also provides a minimalist look to your social media.

Many furniture brands like West Elm often look for monochromatic backgrounds that provide a spotlight to their furniture.

Westelm cream colored bedroom Instagram post

Use Complementary Colors

Complementary colors are the opposite tones on a color wheel. If you want to create a more vibrant and catchy visual, complementary tones are your best bet.

Complementary Colors wheel

Instead of using 50:50 as a ratio for two complementary shades, opt for a 70:30 or 80:20 ratio. This helps one color stand out with your design and doesn’t look chaotic.

For example, look at how Canva pairs blue and orange tones for the highlight of its reel.

Canva complementary colors example

Use Analogous Colors

Analogous takes the monochrome effect to the next level. These three colors sit next to each other on the color wheel and are thus related. They don’t clash with each other or provide a jarring effect to viewers.

Analogous colors

Instead, they help you design subtle yet beautiful content. Many designers follow the 60:30:10 rule while using analogous colors, meaning 60% of the design will be the base color, 30% will be the accent color, and 10% will be the pop-up color.

One brand that often uses analogous colors for its social media is HubSpot. Here’s an example.

Analogous colors hubspot Instagram post

Use Pastel Tones

In color psychology, pastels often give a soothing vibe. As they are less saturated than primary colors, many companies use these hues for launching their summer or spring collection. But they can also be used year-round by industries in the skincare, wellness, and childcare domain.

The best part about using these tones for your social media content is that there’s no dearth of pastel tones. You can mix different hues with white to form a range of pastel shades.

Here’s how Goop Shop, a beauty brand, uses pastel hues as a rich background to promote its products.

Goopshop pastel color palette Instagram post

In Conclusion

Now that you know the psychology behind the basic colors, remember that you don’t need to stick to one or two colors for your social media content. Spice it up by using appropriate colors for different content goals – red for generating excitement or blue for generating trust.

You can even use A/B testing to find colors that bode well with your audience. Or you can simply monitor your audience engagement for different color tones.

It’s time to put your expertise to use. Happy Social Coloring!

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Nidhi Parikh

Nidhi is a freelance SaaS content writer who has an experience of over 4 years. She loves researching as much as writing. When not working, you can find her finishing entire novels in a day, scrolling through memes, and binge-watching the latest web series.

Freelance Content Writer @Mention