Psychology of Colour in Branding: GREEN

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When I think of the colour green, the first few things that come to mind are St.Patrick’s Day, Kermit the Frog, and anything in the organic section of the grocery store. 

The associations I have with green can be traced to Western popular culture. In America, it is seen as the luckiest colour there is. However, in places like Israel, China, Indonesia, and even Spain, it has more negative connotations. More recently however, brands are reinventing the colour by making green the signifier of organic and environmentally friendly products (amongst other things). 

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Green Light

Being a combination of yellow and blue, it’s said that green brings together the mental clarity and optimism of yellow (further discussed in our article here), and blue’s generosity of spirit. Immediately the image of nature and the environment comes to mind when we think about the colour green. This colour also gives off the feeling of being able to nurture others. Like plants in the environment, green gives the feeling of renewed and restored energy - mentally, physically, and emotionally. The colour symbolizes balance and is known to act as the equilibrium between the head and the heart. 

Generally speaking, green is  a positive colour. It relates to the warmth of family, friends, pets and, the home (one’s personal environment/space). These involve the exchange of nurture and being generous, with no expectations. 

Then there is a common perception that green signifies wealth, and finance. At least, that is true in America, where the dollar is literally green in colour. The colour represents prosperity and abundance, and is seen as dependable, agreeable, and diplomatic - able to see all perspectives. Using this neutral trait as a real estate agent or social worker connotes a sense of hope and stability in understanding and pursuing your clients’ needs. If your brand has the strength to cope with adversity, green is your colour!

Buy Green to Save Green

The most popular trend for this hue by far is appearing in ‘organic’ or ‘outdoor’ branding. Brands like Whole Foods and John Deere have owned green as their primary colour choice for years. Each represents completely different industries but give off the same message. We’re expensive, but will give you the best (and most natural) quality that this planet can offer. 

From an obvious standpoint, Starbucks is seen as the more expensive coffee shop compared to Tim Hortons or Dunkin’ Donuts. The branding itself is clean and sophisticated, not loud or obnoxious. Just the logo conveys a sense of quality, that Starbucks serves artisanal, higher-grade coffee compared to your other local coffee shops. Green is the colour of premium quality and service. Notice how Starbucks baristas will take your name and write it on your cup rather giving you a ticket number to wait in line? 

The technology industry surprisingly has a large number of green logos, too. Android, Acer, Spotify, and Xbox (to name a few) have different versions of green in their logo. Since green is seen as positive and nurturing, it opens up a window of curiosity, a thirst for knowledge, and understanding. A lot of tech companies and large global brands see themselves as trying to solve the world’s problems. Green is the best colour to represent sustainability and the impression of creating a better, hopeful future. 

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Brands need to be careful when combining green together with red, because consumers who suffer from colour blindness can often get the two mixed up. Deutans (green deficient) and protans (red deficient) specifically have a hard time distinguishing the difference between the two hues. Even though they are considered to be complementary colours and theoretically work side by side, for accessibility purposes we would not encourage brands to use green and red together for logos or brand elements. 

As stated earlier, as lucky as green is considered to be in Western culture, around the world it is seen as quite the opposite. There is an old wives’ tale about couples in China receiving a green hat to imply that one of them is having an affair. In Spanish culture, green is used as an adjective to describe racy jokes. In Indonesia, it seems that green is a “forbidden" colour. Some people in countries with dense jungles - like those in South America, believe green represents death and the circle of life. 

Similar to yellow, green can be seen as a little bit overstimulating. Also, its association with the colour of American money may give off the impression of being materialistic. Green has a different power than all the other colours, as it’s known to deeply influence and persuade action. As a brand, it may be beneficial to use green in a ‘call-to-action’ context, to encourage engagement with your audience.

Green is the New Black

All depending on the specific shade of green, there are a variety of ways that a brand can go with using this colour in their palette. When looking to showcase a sense of freshness and growth, opt for the lighter tones. To connote a high-quality product or service, go the darker route. If the hue is too bright it may come off a little childish, or gaudy. As always, do your research and get to understand your audience and your brand before going for green.

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