Understanding colour: The basics of colour psychology

Colour PsychologyWhat are the basics of colour psychology?

In retail and the food & hospitality industry, colour psychology plays a major role. Colour has a huge role in visual perception, emotion and human behaviour. It is interesting to understand our subconscious and how we react to the colours we see. Most people are unaware of how much a colour or ‘chromatics’ can influence reactions and trigger our appetites. Does the saying, “we eat with our eyes” sound familiar?

In this article we’ll summarise the basic colours to help us understand why colour is important for your project. Whether you’re choosing a colour for a logo, branding for a micro market project, or simply selecting furniture finishes.  This will give you an understanding of which colours to use and which to steer clear from.

Red palette

Psychological Properties: Stimulates and excites, related to passion and energy.
In Relation to Food: Enhances appetite, triggers energy boost, and increases heart rate.
Examples: Common and effective in the food industry, often used in logos and branding like Oxo and KFC, Rustlers and vending operator Vending Hallmark.


Blue palette

Psychological Properties: Represents security and trust.
In Relation to Food: Suppresses appetite, considered unappetising.
Examples: Successful in blue candy (e.g., blue M&M), but generally not ideal for restaurants but works well in branding such as Lavazza.


Orange palette

Psychological Properties: Energizing, bold, optimistic, and fun.
In Relation to Food: Encourages impulse, associated with good value.
Examples: Tropicana, Fanta and Easyjet; successful in high-end brands like Hermes.


Yellow palette

Psychological Properties: Portrays happiness, uplifting, enthusiastic, and youthful.
In Relation to Food: Encourages sales, stimulates appetite and conversation.
Examples: Burger King, McDonald’s, Subway, Lay’s and vending operator The Vending People; caution on an all-yellow palette though.


Green palette

Psychological Properties: Portrays wealth, relaxation, balance, and nature.
In Relation to Food: Associated with being healthy, fresh, and vegetarian.
Examples: Starbucks, Whole Foods, and Green Giant; commonly used in organic food brands.


Pink palette

Psychological Properties: Associated with sincerity, calming, feminine, and romantic.
In Relation to Food: Often associated with sweet and feminine brands.
Examples: Pink M&Ms, candy, and the new health food shop Portoberry.


Black palette

Psychological Properties: Portrays power, authority, strength, and sophistication.
In Relation to Food: Often used in logos for simplicity and sophistication.
Examples: Many top restaurants have black logos; popular in packaging for alcoholic beverages.


Grey palette

Psychological Properties: Solidarity, maturity, and reliability.
In Relation to Food: Grey is not commonly used alone but is popular in combination with accent colors.
Examples: Common in tea packaging and brands such as Taylors of Harrogate, often associated with natural ingredients.


White palette

Psychological Properties: Represents innocence, clarity, purity, and hope.
In Relation to Food: Used in restaurant design to neutralize food colors and contribute to cleanliness.
Examples: Common in black and white logos for simplicity.


Purple palettePURPLE:

Psychological Properties: Associated with royalty, wisdom, respect, and creativity.
In Relation to Food: Not a fan favorite, but used in berries, wine, and some brands.
Examples: Taco Bell, Dairy Milk by Cadbury and snack company Mondelez International.


Brown palette

Psychological Properties: Represents being grounded, sincere, reliable, and wholesome.
In Relation to Food: Associated with coffee shops, pastries, and chocolate.
Examples: M&M’s, Aero, Hershey’s and vending company Bettavend.


Clear palette

Psychological Properties: Represents transparency, honesty, and in some cases, health.
In Relation to Food: Often used in transparent packaging to showcase the product.
Examples: Widely used in plastic packaging, emphasises product essence.

This article emphasises the importance of colour selection in various aspects of the food industry. From logos to interior design, we can see how colour psychology can influence customer behaviour and perception.  But note, the state of a colour (e.g., saturation, darkness) can also significantly affect its perceived intention.

Design services are inclusive not an add-on at Nebrak

Our design team at Nebrak are not only specialists in the design of vending furniture and micro markets, but they also have experience in the use of colour.  Our team know what works when it comes to branding your project, selecting colour palettes for your furniture and creating spaces to match your required ambience. Offering design expertise for free as part of our overall service recognises that it is not just an add-on, but an important component in the success of any project. If you need assistance in the design and use of colour in your next vending project, Nebrak is happy to advise.


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