A Guide to Selecting the Best Packaging Colors for Your Product

A Guide to Selecting the Best Packaging Colors for Your Product

Psychologists have long studied the effects of colors on people’s moods, emotions, and behavior. The findings from those studies have allowed many brand marketing professionals to use the principles of color psychology to influence people’s perceptions in specific ways.

Choosing colors for your brand logo needs serious thought, as colors can better help consumers associate with your product or service. For instance, McDonald’s uses a red logo, which is known to induce hunger. The dominant green color on a Starbucks cup communicates the coffee brand’s eco-friendly aspirations for the planet.

But choosing colors for your brand doesn’t stop there. It would help if you also considered how your product packaging colors could help you stand out in today’s competitive market. Regardless if you have a single product or a variety of things to advertise, incorporating a deliberate color scheme into packaging solutions can impact buyer behavior.

This infographic highlights the role of color psychology in consumer associations and offers tips on leveraging color elements in product packaging design.

packaging colors

Color Psychology and Color Theory in Product Packaging

Color psychology, or the relationship between colors and human behavior, has practical applications in different facets of branding, including product packaging design. Since colors can affect the way people feel, think, or act, it’s only prudent to be mindful of the hues you choose for your package. 

Colors can help you achieve the desired effect when advertising your product, from your logo to the product label and packaging material.

There are several ways to classify colors, whether they’re on the warm spectrum or cool spectrum.

Warm colors such as red, orange, and yellow tend to be popular among brands that want to convey strong emotions, whether passion, energy, or power. YouTube uses this technique well with their iconic red play button, urging internet browsers to press play and watch more videos. That is because the color red is effective in building up your excitement to be entertained. 

Cool colors such as blue, purple, and green are associated with feelings of calm. Global supermarket Whole Foods’ logo is green, a color synonymous with the soothing characteristics of nature.

These color associations suggest that consumers may form an initial impression of your product by looking at its packaging’s color attributes.

Understanding Color Schemes

It’s not enough to know what colors symbolize. Incorporating harmony in your product packaging’s color scheme should also be a brand’s focus. These color selection guidelines are essential for creating a visual contrast or monochromatic effect to produce compelling packaging designs.

  1. High-contrast colors make design elements more noticeable

    Two or more colors easily distinguishable from one another are called high contrast. This design principle is essential in product packaging, especially in making a particular element like text, symbols, or other markings stand out.

    Dark colors are in great contrast with lighter colors, as this color combination makes the whole package easy on the eyes. Blue packaging goes best with a yellow print, but yellow may not blend well with orange-colored packaging because the two colors don’t have enough contrast.
  2. The color wheel is a valuable source of color technique ideas

    The color wheel can help you decide on a product packaging color combination that will best convey your brand’s personality, voice, message, or intention. Brands will want to limit their design to two or three colors at the most, as having more than that can confuse or overwhelm customers.

(Image: usability.gov)

color wheel

Choose from any of the following color techniques:

  • Complementary colors
    Complementary colors lie opposite one another on the color wheel, like blue and orange, green and red, or purple and yellow. Using complementary colors follows the same principle of creating a sharp contrast between two colors to render a more vibrant appearance to product imagery.

  • Split complementary colors
    This technique involves using three colors: a base color and two other colors adjacent to what complements the base color.

    Suppose you choose blue as your primary color, which is the complementary color for orange. In the split complementary technique, red-orange and yellow-orange can be the second and third colors on your package design, adding variety to your chosen color scheme.

  • Analogous colors
    These colors belong to the same family, sitting right next to one another on the color wheel. Red, orange, and yellow are analogous colors. What makes this color combination an excellent choice for product packaging is that it creates a hierarchy of dominant, supporting, and accentuating colors to produce well-coordinated visuals.

  • Monochromatic colors
    Monochromatic colors are based on a single color but have a range of tints, tones, and shades. A sleek monochromatic color scheme can add to a packaging’s minimalist look or luxurious feel.

  • Triad, tetradic, or square colors
A Guide to Selecting the Best Packaging Colors for Your Product

(Image: CoSchedule)

Tetradic and square color combinations are similar in that both use four colors. The difference is that the latter’s two sets of complementary colors are more evenly spaced around the color wheel. Meanwhile, triad colors are any three evenly spaced colors on the color wheel. 

These color schemes best resonate with people who want to see both contrast and harmony, indicating a sense of boldness or adventure when shopping for consumer products.

  1. Tints, shades, and tones create variations of hues on the color wheel

    Another technique in product packaging is to add tints, shades, and tones to create variations of colors, depending on the meaning or message you want to convey through color:
  • A tint is when white is added to a hue, making the color look lighter or paler. Tints appear slightly whiter or have an almost-white effect and are recommended for minimalist packaging.

  • A shade is when black is added to a hue, darkening the brightness of the color. This can help make your packaging look more elegant or sophisticated.

  • A tone is when varying amounts of black and white (gray) are added to a hue for a less intense effect. It conveys a conservative quality for your packaging.

Best Practices in Selecting Packaging Colors

Know who your buyers are. The colors you choose have to be relatable to your target market, with a particular focus on the age, gender, social, economic, or cultural group they represent.

Make your branding and product packaging color scheme consistent with each other. For instance, you can’t claim to be a progressive brand if you’d rather play safe with traditional color schemes.

Appeal to human emotion. The right product packaging colors can help evoke positive feelings among consumers to compel them to choose your brand over your competitors.

Color the World Through Product Packaging

Colors are an essential element in product packaging. They help you tell your brand story, share your organization’s values, and educate your customers about the uniqueness of your product. Being more critical of the colors you choose and how to use them on your packaging will allow you to reap the benefits.

Find the best color combination for your products from our expert team at Meyers Printing. Visit our site for more information.