The Psychology of Branding

As a designer, it’s important that you have an understanding of the psychology behind branding. Establishing a brand is one of the most important elements of business, and clients will always want memorable designs which reinforce their message. Cognitive scientists, designers and marketers often work hand-in-hand to find new ways to tap into the brain; however, this can be tricky as humans make 90% of decisions unconsciously.

Understanding these basic principles will help you incorporate “brand psychology” into your own designs.

Interrupting Patterns and Creating Comfort

According to Douglas Van Praet of Psychology Today, interrupting common patterns and creating comfort are the most important elements of successful branding. When you’re designing something new for your clients, finding the right balance between them is vital.

The human mind always detects patterns, and certain things are to be expected. For example, if you look at an image of a tree, you’ll expect to see the colors brown and green. When patterning is in order the human mind will ignore it; however, when the patterning is out of sync, it triggers “attention.”

Comfort directly ties in with patterning. If you witness something that you’re familiar with, you will instinctively feel at ease; while if you see something unfamiliar, it’ll make you question why you’re viewing that particular product. This results in a decreased attention span.

When you’re creating new designs, you must find an intermediary between the two in order to reinforce your clients’ brand. To do this, put yourself into the mindset of the consumer and ask yourself what would make you take action.

Color and the Brain

Color is one of the most important elements of brand identification. If you think of yellow arches or a red can of cola, no doubt you’ll instantly identify the brands (McDonalds and Coca Cola). Comprehensive brand strategies from communications company The Pink Group, always emphasize the significance color when establishing company profile. This is a process you should mimic in your own designs.

coca-cola branding
According to a study conducted by Satyendra Singh of the University of Winnipeg entitled “Impact of Color on Marketing,” 90% of people will base their judgment of a brand on color alone. Visual perception is the primary human sense and color is the first element of any object that’s recognized by the brain. This will evoke certain chemical reactions and trigger certain emotions on a subconscious level.

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However, studies have concluded that relevance is far more important than these emotional triggers, especially since everyone has different associations with specific colors. Therefore, the “right” color is simply the one which appeals to your client’s target audience and demographic. For example, bikers would probably be less inclined to purchase a Harley Davidson if the logo was a more feminine pink and yellow, rather than the trademark black and orange. Before you start designing, it’s always a good idea to speak to your client’s and get some information about their target consumers.


The average person is exposed to between 3,000 and 10,000 brand advertisements per day, yet very little know about the psychology of branding or why they look at certain brands over others. While you should always work alongside your clients to create a design which encourages certain perceptions of their identity, it’s essentially down to the unconscious mind of the consumer to decide what’s right for them.

Featured Image Credit: Marin Balaić