"WeListen" Blog

How Graphics and Color Impact Packaging Perception


Person shopping in a grocery store.


Most package design professionals are aware of the studies that show how consumer perception of color can influence their brand choices by eliciting an emotion.

For example, red is the color of energy and urgency. It alerts us to danger via stop signs but also signals the excitement of a trusted brand like Target or Coca-Cola. Studies show that the color grey invokes the idea of sophistication, which is why so many luxury cars are silver. Green is always the color of nature, and brands like Whole Foods Market take full advantage of the sense of healthy balance the color invokes.

In the consumer product goods industry (CPG), the use of color in graphic design matters. Here is how different graphics and colors can impact buyer perceptions.

Package Design and The Color of a Mood Swing

CPG graphic design teams know something the average consumer doesn’t; the colors we see affect our moods and behaviors. Colors reach consumers at a subconscious level, influencing what we buy and which brands we trust. 

Color psychology is a new field of study that studies human response to color. ThoughtCo. says that we now know that “Colors are thought to influence our buying choices, our feelings, and even our memories.” This makes color an important communication tool in any type of graphic design.

Colors like oranges and reds can create a feeling of warmth and comfort or danger and anger, depending on context and the perception of the individual. Cooler colors are at the other end of the spectrum. Greens, blues, and purples are known to create a feeling of calm but can also invoke sadness. Other typical responses to color include:

  • Black, which is the absence of light and color, can give viewers a sense of evil or death, but it also indicates power and sleekness.
  • Yellow is the color of the sun and invokes warmth, energy, and happiness. Conversely, it is one of the most difficult colors to view for long periods and can produce eye fatigue.
  • Pink continues to be the color associated with femininity, love, and kindness. It’s important to note pink is a red variant, so shade matters; there is a “drunk-tank pink” that is used in jails to keep inmates calmer. 

Other Considerations for Packaging Color

But the human perception of color is also cultural; white in Western cultures signifies purity while in Eastern countries, it is the culture of mourning and death. It is also an individualized perception. Ask anyone their favorite color choices, and the answers are as different as the color spectrum itself. The individual consumer can associate a color with a negative as easily as a positive, making color choices and combinations tricky for package design. Using two related colors or choosing the right shade variance could have a positive impact that overcomes any negatives.

Many companies choose their website design from their personal choices. But, in fact, they should give more thought to how color can enhance or contradict the messaging on the website. It's no different for CPG packaging designers who must give careful consideration not just to how colors look on the shelves, but what emotions they potentially invoke. Deliberate choices of colors is a key component to influencing consumer behaviors. That’s why the color elements are just as crucial as the written content on any package design.

PKG Brand Design is always on the forefront of new CPG branding and packaging initiatives; please subscribe to our blog for the latest package design industry news! 

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