How the Limbic Map can help to identify & plan the perception of brand colors

The Limbic Map has been designed by the German market research insitute Gruppe Nymphenburg and helps to identify the perception of a brand logo and visual identity by looking at a human being´s primary instincts and brain areas.

In marketing, we know that colors are a key element to create certain emotions and perceptions among customers when it comes to logo and packaging design or the color setting of an ad. But how exactly do colors work in our brain? With their Limbic Map, Gruppe Nymphenburg sheds light on this question, and we are going to reveal the most important elements today.

The divisions of our brain

Our brain activities follow some basic functions that are deeply wired into our being and are hard to overcome. Business people make all their decisions based on facts and figures? Wrong! Because even in completely unemotional situations, such as reading the terms & conditions of a contract, there is some underlying emotion helping us to navigate through life, and that doesn´t stop at the CEO´s door either.

Mainly, we are driven by a red, yellow and blue/green area according to the Limbic Map, that steers our decisions. Red, not hard to guess, stands for the dominant, performance-driven part of our personality, that wants to hunt, fight and win. The yellow area is the playful, child-like area that drives us to learn new things, get inspired and stay curious throughout our life. And the blue/green part is the balance in our lives, caring about the family, creating a cozy home and living in harmony with others.

Of course, none of us is 100% one type with only one kind of feelings, since all human beings are a mix of different “brain types”, also according to the different situations we are in in life. But we do have a tendency to lean towards the one or the other area, which makes it possible for marketeers to predict, which target group will be more likely to be attracted by a new campaign or the color of a logo.

How to use the limbic map in product marketing for food & beverages

Visual marketing is not just about a nice picture that creates appetite appeal with regard to your food & beverage product. It also has to be aligned with your company´s Visual Identity, so that consumers can identify it with your brand. A poster by Coca-Cola will always be red, right? Otherwise, the consumer´s association with the brand would not be triggered and the campaign would not meet its target.

Therefore, you should make sure right from the start that your brand colors are meeting the right criteria and are symbolic for what you would like to express with your brand. In all following marketing activities, from packaging to POS displays, online ads and Social Media feeds, a certain color scheme helps your consumer to always identify your brand, so that it can grow bigger and bigger and stay top of mind in your customer´s relevant set of brands to be purchased.

When you design a new ad campaign, try not only to stay within your given color scheme, but also play with the arrangements of objects, text and buttons and the balance of colors within the ad. Brands and products can also use a lot of other design and text elements next to colors in order to speak to the different brain areas of consumers. Especially when you run expensive campaigns, you want to always meet the campaign´s target and create exactly the right feeling and activity within your target group. The color and size of buttons, for example, can play a crucial role in how an ad is perceived and which action a consumer takes, so testing different possibilities in the beginning to see, how the perception changes, is always a good idea to stay on track and – in the end – possibly save a lot of money that will not be wasted. Here is an easy example of a printer ad that is displayed in three different ways in order to attract different target groups:

The playful and curious type of person - stimulance - will probably be most likely attracted to a "Limited Edition" offer, since this symbolizes that you have to be a quick decision maker that dares to dive into the unknown to get the best final result. A dominant consumer will seek the highest bargain since that makes him or her the smartest of all customers and be ahead of the game. And a balance-oriented consumer will take a look at social proof from others to make the best decision, so a "most popular" ranking in addition to the ad can make a lot of sense.

And what if you have a brand new product or brand to be designed?

If your brand is a new, exciting energy drink for the real hunters and fighters out there, what about a red touch to all your marketing material to symbolize strength and power? A kid´s beverage is maybe better of with a yellow touch, to make sure little adventurers will be drawn to it. And a healthy convenience food solution for the whole family might be best designed in different green tones, to reflect its health benefits to the caring parents. As these are very easy examples, there is of course a lot to think about for the individual case.

Which color scheme to use, which main and sub-colors to choose, how to balance them out in the bigger picture and which other design and text elements to integrate? If you would like to get some help with these or other questions from our experienced design team, just send us a message to

We are looking forward to bringing colour into play!

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