Think about color in fashion. A red dress gives off vibes of power, fearlessness, and strength. A yellow dress gives off vibes of warmth, happiness, and optimism. We often dress in colors that represent how we feel. For example, black clothing is worn when someone is in mourning.

Artist Wassily Kandinsky once said, “Color is a power which directly influences the soul.” Have you ever considered how color influences consumers? The colors you brand with dictate the experience your customers have with your business and the feelings that surround your business.

Think about this: Have you ever seen someone studying in a Dunkin Donuts? Do you plan to meet up and chat with your friends in your local Dunkin Donuts? The answer to both of these questions likely is no. The Dunkin Donuts vibe influences you to grab what you need and get out the door quickly. This vibe is created through the brand’s colors, which are orange, pink, brown, and white. These colors give off vibes that create a fast-paced, in-and-out, no-fuss experience.

I’ll break this down for you:

Orange portrays feelings of energy and excitement. When you’re purchasing a cup of coffee, you’re most likely looking for a caffeinated pick-me-up to get you going and keep you awake. Dunkin Donuts is promising to provide you with that burst of energy you need with their product. Think about the experience you have at Dunkin Donuts. It’s fast-paced, and you are rarely standing around and waiting. It’s energized and fast-moving. They don’t say, “The world runs on Dunkin,” for nothing. You can run into their stores and run out, getting that energy you need to keep running for the rest of the day.

The color pink can make people feel impulsive. Do you ever make plans to meet up with friends or clients at a Dunkin Donuts? Or do you find yourself walking or driving by a Dunkin Donuts and decide in the moment to stop for a beverage? You most likely agree with the latter. Hanging out at their stores isn’t the experience Dunkin is trying to provide. They don’t want you to make plans to hang around with five of your friends in their store. They want to keep their line moving quickly so they can serve the maximum number of customers.

Now think about brown. This color stands for reliability and authenticity, and it lacks sophistication. When you go to Dunkin Donuts, you won’t find an iced caramel macchiato with soy milk and two pumps of vanilla on the menu. Dunkin is known more for serving an average cup of coffee. It’s authentic, it’s real, it’s reliable, and it’s not fancy.

White often implies simplicity and freshness. As I mentioned, you won’t find complex drinks with layers of flavor at Dunkin Donuts. Their menu items are relatively basic and straightforward. You’re not going to get a breakfast sandwich with bacon, gouda, and egg white on a ciabatta roll. You’re getting a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich on a plain bagel. Even though it’s not fancy, they still want you to know that everything is fresh.

Now that you understand the experience Dunkin Donuts creates through the colors they use, let’s take a look at Starbucks. This experience is entirely different. Starbucks wants you to take off your coat and stay awhile, sipping a tasty beverage full of unique flavors. They want to create an environment where you feel relaxed and can study, reply to emails, or catch up with a friend. Here’s how their colors of green, black, and white create this vibe.

Starbucks’ primary color, green, implies health and prosperity. Starbucks has a lot of healthy food options available to its customers. Their stores are seen as a place you can go to concentrate and get work done. Green also implies boredom, which makes sense for the vibe Starbucks is trying to create. It’s not loud or exciting, but rather it’s an excellent environment to buckle down and get stuff done. This is why you always see people sitting at a table in Starbucks with their laptop or a book.

Black and white both stand for sophistication. Obviously, Starbucks offers a lot of fancy, sophisticated drinks. If you go into a Starbucks and ask for a plain coffee, the barista will probably look at you like you have two heads. White is also known to give off an elite vibe, which shows how Starbucks wants to stand above the rest. They want you to think they’re a step up from their competitors.

Though you may not notice it at first, colors really are responsible for creating a brand image. Even the interior design of a store comes back to the colors used. You can use colors to tell your consumers to make it snappy, like Dunkin Donuts, or to invite them to hang out for a while, like Starbucks. Now that you’ve seen two examples of different experiences that colors create think about your own brand image. Are your colors implying the experience you want your customers to have?

About the Author

Gina Lizzo

Gina is our Social Media Intern. She is a Marketing major at La Salle University where she is also a Division I athlete on the women’s golf team. Her favorite thing to do is cheer on the New York Yankees.

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