Colour Psychology in Packaging

Colour Psychology in Packaging: Why Colour Choice Matters

Choosing colours for your packaging is a fun part of the design process. For many new businesses, engaging a designer is a bit out of budget. We know a lot of you choose to DIY the process. To help you get the right fit, we’re discussing the importance of colour in packaging and how to use colour psychology to your advantage.

What is colour psychology?

Colour psychology is the study of how different colours evoke emotions in people. It’s a science, but not an exact one. Over years of study, researchers have found that some colours repeatedly evoke the same feelings in different people. A good example is the colour red; which is known to create a sense of urgency and kickstart the metabolism. That’s why you see it all the time on sale signs and used by food brands. 

Does it matter?

The importance of colour psychology in packaging shouldn’t be understated. Customer research tells us that packaging colours can have a direct impact on purchasing decisions. It means that getting the right feeling or idea from your packaging might push a person to buy your product.

But, colour is just one aspect of your packaging that helps people make decisions. There’s also the branding and information on the box. Getting all the elements right is the best way to build loyal customers.

Read our blog on 5 packaging design mistakes to learn what you need to avoid.

The meaning of different packaging colours

If you decide that colour psychology is the right way to go, you will want to know what the different colours mean. Keep in mind that these colour meanings come from anecdotal evidence. Personal experiences can alter the feelings a colour evokes and so can a powerful brand position. Here is a summary of the colour meanings.


Red makes people feel excited, impulsive and a sense of urgency. It’s a popular colour in food packaging because it stimulates the appetite.


Orange brings feelings of enthusiasm and impulsiveness. For your brand, it evokes friendly, confident and affordable messaging.


Yellow is a cheerful colour that makes people feel warm and youthful. The youthful effect is one reason it is used for beauty products.


Green has many different meanings. It represents health and rest, eco-friendly products or luxury and high-quality. In food packaging, green is used to show organic, fresh and healthy foods.


Blue is a calm and peaceful colour that many people trust. It has universal appeal with all genders, making it a reliable and popular choice for brands in any industry.


Purple goes from calm and soothing on one end, to wise and creative at the other. An unusual colour, it can signify a new or innovative product. In food packaging, purple is used to signify an indulgence.


Pink brings feelings of empathy, beauty, sincerity and comfort. It’s generally used for products with a female customer base, though it also works well for young audiences in darker shades.


Black is a strong shade that represents power, authority, luxury and intelligence. It’s frequently seen on tech products; from phones and TVs to household appliances.


White represents simplicity, balance and calm. It looks great when combined with other colours, while using all-white packaging can make a product feel like a safe choice.

Colour meaning changes with the tone

With every colour, there are light and dark tones to choose from. In general, a bright colour is seen as strong, adventurous and confident. These tend to appeal to younger people; think hot pink and neon blue. Paler hues are seen as calming, traditional and trustworthy. They are often used to entice older consumers.

Different tones of the same colour can change the message too. Take green as an example: dark green is considered strong, while lime green is energising and earthy greens highlight the eco-friendliness of a product.

Combining colours

It’s also possible to use multiple colours in your packaging to combine meanings. A great example of this is the food chain Subway. Their use of bright yellow shows positivity and attracts a young crowd. Combining it with green, they are able to add in feelings of freshness and health.

How to use colour psychology for your packaging

Getting the right packaging can feel overwhelming – with box styles, flute size and now colours to think of. We wanted to offer some tips to help you choose packaging colours with ease.

Think about your target customer

Your packaging should always be designed for your customer. For colour choice, that means getting to the bottom of their needs. Are they young or old? Are they budget-conscious or luxury-driven? It can be useful to consider cultural aspects too – such as the colour red being a prosperous choice in many Asian cultures.

If your target market is broad, you might like to choose a universal colour such as blue, black or white. But the more you narrow it down, the more you can determine the right colours – like using pale pink to appeal to a nurturing, adult female audience.

Consider your brand message

What do you want your packaging to say about your brand? Your colour choice is an opportunity to spread this message. Come up with some keywords that describe your brand and find the colour to match. For example, if you consider yourself creative and interesting – you might choose purple. Or if your brand is friendly and confident, then orange is the go. 

On the shelf vs. delivered to the door

Designing retail packaging is very different to designing a box for delivery. Thinking about where your boxes will be used can help you decide how bold to go with your colour choices.

Retail packaging needs to stand out on a shelf full of similar products. Whereas eCommerce packaging is all about function and customer experience. Minimalism also works well on the eCommerce side with many brands opting for plain brown Kraft boxes and simple black branding.

Follow trends without copying others

You may have noticed certain trends in packaging colour choices. For example, technology products that use black, white or grey packaging. It can be good to follow these trends and set easy expectations with your customer around your product. But, try not to fall into the trap of copying competitors. Choose whichever colour sends the right message about your brand.

Quality packaging, made in Melbourne

Echo Cartons have more than 20 years’ experience in corrugated box manufacturing. We pride ourselves on our friendly team, fast service and great quality boxes. Based in Braeside, Melbourne; we’re the packaging supplier of choice for Australian SME’s. When you’re ready to kickstart a packaging order – simply request a quote.

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