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Packaging colour psychology – how it affects your success

Jay Daggar: Last Updated 16th February 2024
Posted In: Brand Positioning | Guides and Advice xx 31631

The importance of colour selection

Why using colour psychology for your packaging is essential

As someone involved with the all-important appearance of your packaging – as a graphic designer, product manager or buyer – you are likely aware of the crucial role that packaging colour psychology can play in your success.

Packaging colour psychology uses different hues to influence your target consumers’ behaviour. The use of different colours can invoke specific emotions. For example, red communicates excitement, passion, and youthful zeal, whereas blue signifies dependability, calm and trust.

The use of colour can position your brand, reach new consumers, and ultimately drive sales.

This guide provides details of specific colour associations and how you can leverage them to improve the performance of your packaging (and broader branding/product marketing). It covers:

  • Points to consider when choosing colours.
  • The varying emotions different colours evoke.
  • Popular and well-known brands using specific colours.
  • Industries where the use of particular colours is widespread.

Please continue reading for further details, or use the table of contents to head straight to your area of interest.

Quick reference / contents

07: Purple
08: Turquoise
09: Pink
10: Brown
11: Black
12: White


What does your packaging say to your customers?

Packaging is crucial in winning customers (in retail environments) or impressing them and fostering brand loyalty (typically through eCommerce packaging).

Many businesses spend vast amounts of time (and money) designing and refining their packaging to delight their customers. Other companies, in contrast, barely focus on their packaging at all (even using plain, unbranded packs).

However, there is a factor that both of these groups can commonly overlook – the role that colour plays in consumer psychology.

A person with a colourful, painted face to represent packaging colour psychology
Packaging colour psychology can have a surprisingly large impact on the success of your products

Despite being studied by psychologists for decades, many brands do not realise the benefits of carefully selecting colours for their packaging (and are unaware of the “colour wheel” for doing so).

Colour can evoke emotions and feelings. Certain hues can attract specific segments or consumers within a market. It can capture attention. It can even help nudge people into particular buying behaviours. Packaging colour psychology influences all of this and more.

But what does each of the colours mean? And how do you choose suitable colours for your brand, market or product?

Colours and their meanings

Packaging colour psychology

In short, the varying colours, when used on packaging, are associated with the following emotions, messaging and brand values:

  • Red: Excitement, bold, youthful, passion, zeal, warmth, strength, power, action, enthusiasm, love, desire.
  • Orange: Friendly, cheerful, confident, fun, adventurous, warmth, cost-effectiveness, creativity.
  • Yellow: Cheerful, clarity, warmth, optimism, fun, energy, happiness, confidence.
  • Green: Soothing, freshness, growth, peaceful, healthy, eco-friendly, harmony, security, wealth.
  • Blue: Calming, trustworthy, efficiency, serenity, logic, intelligence, dependability, strength, honesty.
  • Purple: Indulgence, luxury, opulence, spirituality, nobility, wisdom, exclusivity.
  • Turquoise: Calmness, purity, clarity.
  • Pink: Femininity, calming, beauty, youthful, playful, love.
  • Brown: Earthy, comforting, security, natural.
  • Black: Elegance, premium, sophistication, authority, strength, mystery.
  • White: Simplicity, elegance, purity, innocence, goodness, humility, cleanliness, new beginnings, premium.
  • Grey: Calm, neutral, balanced.


Excitement, strength, passion

Red is perhaps one of the most versatile colours for the messaging it can convey. When used on packaging, brighter reds communicate lively and energetic brands/products, although some may consider this shade to denote lower value products.

Alternatively, darker reds convey a more professional and premium offering.

Corrugated cardboard box with red and white print
Red packaging is well suited to youthful, energetic products.

Popular with lifestyle and entertainment brands, reds are also widely used in food packaging applications, as many believe it helps trigger appetite.

Regardless of the colour psychology of red packaging, this colour almost guarantees an attention-grabbing appearance, helping products stand out in crowded retail environments.

Communicates: Excitement, bold, youthful, passion, zeal, warmth, strength, power, action, enthusiasm, love, desire

Popular Brands: Coca Cola, KFC, Nescafe, Vodafone, Netflix, Disney, Lego, Virgin

Industries: Food and beverage, retail, lifestyle, entertainment


Friendly, cheerful, cost effective

Many people claim that orange is a problematic colour to work with because it can convey quite different emotions. Orange can sometimes reflect lower cost or even budget items.

However, careful use of this colour can evoke feelings of friendliness, fun, adventure, and warmth. Orange is also suitable for use alongside contrasting or complementary colours, allowing for a well-balanced message.

Similarly to reds, orange packaging can allow products to become more noticeable when stocked in retail stores.

Cardboard point of sale unit printed with orange ink
Orange packaging can be difficult to get right - but typically provides a warm, confident appearance

Communicates: Friendly, cheerful, confidence, fun, adventurous, warmth, cost-effectiveness, creativity

Popular Brands: Fanta, Nickelodeon, Firefox, Quorn, B&Q

Industries: Food, beverage, DIY


Energy, happiness, confidence

Whilst purely yellow packaging and brands usually target children and adolescents, yellow is often used in conjunction with another colour to create a different message.

For example, Subway combines yellow with green to target young consumers (yellow) whilst also communicating the freshness of ingredients (green).

Yellow coloured food packaging
Yellow is a versatile choice for packaging, although is often used to target younger consumers

Packaging colour psychology also sees yellow reflecting originality, innovation, fun and happiness. Its use is standard on products designed to be uplifting or reflect an energetic, confident brand.

Communicates: Cheerful, clarity, warmth, optimism, fun, energy, happiness, confidence

Popular Brands: McDonald’s, Shell, DHL, Ferrari, Subway, National Geographic, JCB

Industries: Delivery / fulfilment, construction, plant equipment, fast food


Freshness, natural, wealth

Green is one of the more important colours when used on packaging, yet also one that can convey a broader range of feelings and emotions.

Green is often used to convey eco-friendliness, purity, and organic products. It is also widely used with kraft material and natural colours to promote the environmental benefits of corrugated packaging.

However, brighter shades of green are energising, fresh and healthy. Darker blue-greens are calming and relaxing, while earthy greens are popular for natural products and brands.

Cardboard box with green print
Green is important in packaging colour psychology, as it can indicate that a product (or the packaging itself) is environmentally friendly

Many companies are guilty of using this shade for “green-washing” – i.e. making their products or brand appear more environmentally friendly than it is.

Communicates: Soothing, freshness, growth, peaceful, healthy, eco-friendly, harmony, security, wealth

Popular Brands: Subway, Starbucks, BP, Land Rover, Waitrose, Lloyds Bank

Industries: Banking, medical, health and wellbeing, foods


Calming, trustworthy, logic

Blue is often viewed as a “safe” colour to use for your packaging – being the most universally liked by both male and female consumers. It also conveys dependability, strength, harmony and intelligence, which is why its use is widespread amongst technology brands. The subliminal message is blue denotes a product or brand you can trust.

Besides this, darker blues typically appeal to older consumers, with brighter and more vibrant blues attracting a younger demographic.

Despite this, using blue for your packaging can be a risk. As using blue is expected due to its popularity, packs can get lost amongst a crowd of similar-looking products.

Blue-printed corrugated packaging box
Blue packaging conveys messages of trustworthiness and intelligence - which is why it is commonly used for consumer electronics brands.

Communicates: Calming, trustworthy, efficiency, serenity, logic, intelligence, dependability, strength, honesty

Popular Brands: HP, Dell, Facebook, Oral B, Ford, Pfizer, Pepsi, Gillette, Samsung

Industries: Electronics, software, pharmaceuticals, and medicines


Indulgence, luxury, spirituality

Appealing to all ages and consumers (particularly female and youth markets), purple portrays a sense of opulence and goods of the highest quality – something that may be a treat rather than an everyday product (and potentially with higher price points to match).

Purple is also increasingly used for spiritual and wellbeing brands/products.

Ultimately, purple packaging can help position your brand/product as a premium option.

Communicates: Indulgence, luxury, opulence, spirituality, nobility, wisdom, exclusivity

Popular Brands: Cadburys, Hallmark, Premier Inn, Aussie, Yahoo

Industries: Food and drink, luxury products


Calmness, purity, clarity

Turquoise is a calming colour that also conveys clarity and purity.

Because of this, turquoise is a popular colour for use in the packaging of health products. It is also widely used for cleaning products, as it communicates a sense of purity without harshness.

Another benefit for many businesses is that its use is not particularly widespread, meaning it can help packaging grab consumer attention and provide a point of difference.

Communicates: Calmness, purity, clarity

Popular Brands: Tiffanys

Industries: Health, cleaning products

Open cardboard box with turquoise print
Turquoise is associated with pureness and clarity when considering packaging colour psychology


Femininity, beauty, youth

Softer shades of pink are – perhaps unsurprisingly – widely used in products targeting female consumers. However, whilst softer pinks are undoubtedly perceived as feminine, bolder and darker shades also convey strength and sophistication.

Vivid and bright pinks are also frequently used for targeting teens and younger consumers (and can also suggest less expensive or trendy products), with light and greyed out shades appealing more to older consumers.

As with turquoise, using pink outside of healthcare and feminine products is rarer. Therefore, using pink can be an advantage for your packaging, providing it does not alienate your target consumer (an excellent example of using it for brand differentiation is T Mobile).

Communicates: Femininity, calming, beauty, youthful, playful, love

Popular Brands: Barbie, Victoria’s Secret, T Mobile

Industries: Health care, cosmetics, fashion


Earthy, comforting, security

Brown packaging can convey a natural, environmentally friendly feeling among consumers (similarly to greens). The brown colour of kraft cardboard is often used with the contrast of a single bold colour to highlight that a product is sustainable whilst not compromising performance or quality.

Communicates: Earthy, comforting, security, natural

Popular Brands: M&Ms


Sophistication, authority, strength

Black is a widely popular choice for use on packaging, as it conveys a fairly neutral message alongside suggestions of authority and elegance. Its use for premium items is widespread too.

It is also widely used with white elements and pairs perfectly with almost any other colour. “Black edition” products are also seen as a luxury or exclusive, making this colour packaging widely used for limited editions and special runs of existing products.

Cardboard retail packaging with black graphics
Black packaging is often used for premium and limited edition ranges

Communicates: Elegance, premium, sophistication, authority, strength, mystery

Popular Brands: Nike, Adidas, Audi

Industries: Consumer goods, automotive, sportswear


Simplicity, elegance, purity

Much like black, most consumers regard white as a premium option.

The use of white for premium packaging is particularly true of corrugated packaging, where it is the primary alternative to brown kraft material.

White packaging – suggesting innocence, purity and new beginnings – is also suitable for health care, cosmetics and luxury goods.

Communicates: Simplicity, elegance, purity, innocence, goodness, humility, cleanliness, new beginnings, premium

Popular Brands: Apple, Tesla, Calvin Klein

Industries: Luxury goods, high-end consumer electronics, medical products, cosmetics

White cardboard packaging
White packaging suggests simplicity, elegance and luxury - as showcased by Apple.

Grey / Silver

Calm, neutral, balanced

Grey packaging has grown in popularity over the last few years, although many fear this is somewhat of a trend and may not be sustainable over the long term.

However, grey packaging and branding can communicate calming, neutral and balanced messaging, making it suitable for practically any product outside a handful of specific sectors. However, its use may be more suited to higher-end products, with the shade not providing enough visual appeal for products where brighter colours are predominant.

Communicates: Calm, neutral, balanced

Popular Brands: Dyson

A collection of grey retail packaging boxes
Grey, whilst becoming particularly popular over the past couple of years, typically communicates a calm, balanced appearance.


Colour psychology for packaging

Whilst many businesses do not even consider how the colours they use can affect sales and how their brand is perceived, doing so can prove a significant competitive advantage.

It is, of course, critical to consider your target consumers, the use of the pack, what your competitors are doing, and consistency with your existing branding.

But equally, if a carefully chosen colour can help nudge potential customers towards your products, it is essential that you get your packaging colours right.

For help with packaging colour psychology, please do not hesitate to get in touch and speak with a member of the GWP team.

Further reading

About the Author

Jay Daggar, GWP Packaging Sales Manager

Jay Daggar

Sales Manager | GWP Packaging

Jay joined GWP Packaging in mid-2008 before becoming Sales Manager in 2011, meaning he has worked for GWP for over 10 years. [Read full bio…]

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