September 21, 2018

How To Create Emotional Connections With Packaging Design

The colors of your package can have subtle, yet powerful, implications for how consumers perceive your product.

We all know how important color is in consumer psychology. Some companies follow the trends and try to tap into what’s popular at the moment, while others (such as Apple and its characteristic white) use colors to differentiate themselves from their competitors and show off the uniqueness of their brands.

It’s no secret that different colors can reinforce your brand messaging in different ways. And when used correctly, the color of your packaging can be one of the most memorable and influential aspects of your entire design.

Emotional Wavelengths

Though many don’t realize it, each color’s effect has to do with its relative wavelength in the visible light spectrum.

Warm colors such as red, orange, and yellow have longer wavelengths, which our eyes are more naturally drawn to when compared to colors at the other end of the spectrum. High wavelength colors are perceived as more aggressive, attention-grabbing, forward, and emotional.

Cool colors, on the other hand, have shorter wavelengths that are a little easier on our eyes. They don’t demand as much attention, which is why blues, greens, and violets are traditionally perceived as calming, balanced, and soothing.

It’s important to understand how these colors may affect your customers as they view your packaging. The emotional rules of color aren’t ironclad, but they establish important precedents that play into the purchasing process—whether shoppers realize it or not.

Applying Color to Design

According to a study on consumer psychology, the average consumer makes up his/her mind about a product within 90 seconds of viewing it—and between 60 to 90 percent of that assessment is based on color alone.

Clearly, the appearance, color choice, and aesthetic style of a product’s packaging are some of the biggest factors affecting our perception of the brand. This can be obvious, such as when companies genderize makeup products with feminine pinks and yellows while reserving their deep blues and blacks for more masculine products. But our judgments aren’t always so clear-cut.  

For example, consumers will indirectly judge your design’s color choices based on perceived appropriateness. Do the colors match the brand’s projected identity? Or is the brand just pushing colors it likes without a thought for the emotional impacts it’s creating?

Similarly, research suggests that our brains respond more positively to brands we’re already familiar with. In this way, consumers judge you on memorability. Do the colors promote a unique, cohesive brand that can be differentiated from the competition? If not, the color scheme may be ineffective.

Remember the Cultural Nuance

Make sure you understand the culture of your environment as well as the characteristics of your buyers. For example, while black is a color traditionally associated with mourning in the West, Eastern Asian cultures associate death with the color white. These types of cultural distinctions play a large role in how your products are perceived, so make sure you know what message you’re sending.

The Psychology of Color

Don’t underestimate the power of a well-designed color scheme. Consumers make decisions about whether to purchase within seconds—and when your product is lined up against a shelf of competitors, you need every edge you can get.


by Kevin Smith
SmashBrand helps brands create, optimize, and launch successful products, services, and customer experiences. Our data-driven process is the key to accelerating sales and minimizing risks.

We use a strategic combination of market research, design, and consumer testing to solve complex brand problems more effectively, create differentiation, and forge more meaningful connections with customers.

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