A lot of time, effort and money often goes into marketing and advertising a business, with design being a key feature of a campaign’s success or failure.

A considerable number of factors make up an advertising campaign, but colour is among the most influential. According to multiple scientific and psychological studies, each shade creates a different emotion in the viewer — from urgency to buy now, to trusting in a brand. With other experiments suggesting that colour can determine how long we can recall an offer or brand logo, it’s clear that being colour-savvy when designing a marketing campaign is essential.

To help you use colour effectively and efficiently, check out this marketing colour psychology guide…

Advertising and colour psychology

Although colour psychology has long been carried out and accepted as a genuine study, colour psychology from a marketing perspective is more of a contemporary debate. However, there have been many scientific studies into the connection between shades and sales that appear to show a strong correlation. According to a Canadian experiment, nearly 90% of snap decisions regarding consumer products are based solely on colour.

Have you a specific gender when it comes to your target audience? Colour effect also apparently differs when comparing gender, according to some studies. For example, a study published in the Journal of Retailing found that men believed savings were much greater in value if they was advertised in red rather than black, while the difference was much smaller among women. The imbalance of colour psychology between males and females was also apparent in the study, Colour Assignment. Although blue was popular across the board, this study found that purple was a second-favourite colour for women but the second-least favourite among men. Similarly, other studies on colour attractiveness found that softer hues are preferred by women, while bold shades were liked by men. Are you using the right hues for your main consumer?

Although subjective, you can use different colour for different purposes in marketing. For example, studies have shown that yellow is utilised to grab attention and should perhaps be the colour of choice in store windows, while red is most people’s key indicator of discount prices and ‘urgency’ and should be used on clearance sales posters for optimum effect. Also, both these shades are warm colours. According to an experiment, these are better at sticking in a viewer’s memory than cool colours (like blue and green). So, it might be good to use them on promotional ads to keep consumers thinking about your offer for longer, as well as your brand logo itself to ensure you come to mind when they next need a product or service you offer.

Mixing a few colours together also evokes certain responses. Another study found that contrasting shades also improved readability — essential if you want your company’s printed banners to be seen by more people from a greater distance.

Although research suggests that any factors play a part in how someone would react to a colour, such as upbringing, personal tastes and religion, it’s clear that it plays a role in our cognitive process, which makes it worth your consideration when it comes to the few second you have to catch a consumer’s eye and attract them to your brand.

Some famous use of colour

How important is colour psychology purely from a brand perspective? According to research compiled by Kissmetrics, 85% of shoppers surveyed say colour is a primary reason for buying something. Also, it was found that colour boosts brand recognition by around 80%.

Interestingly, different shades have different psychological effects on the consumer mind — something worth knowing if you’re in the start-up stages of your company or are looking to rebrand. Here are the emotions associated with each colour and examples of the successful brands that use them:

Colour Effect Logo
Yellow Optimism and youth Chupa Chups and McDonalds
Green Growth and relaxation Starbucks and Asda
Pink Romance and femininity Barbie and Very
Purple Creative and wise Cadbury and Hallmark
Black Power and luxury Chanel and Adidas
Orange Confidence and happiness Nickelodeon and Fanta
Red Energy and excitement Coca Cola and Virgin Holidays
Blue Trust and security Barclays and the NHS

From the above table, we can conclude that certain brands are deploying certain colours to complement the services they’re selling. For example, inciting trust for a bank is important, which may be why Barclays chose blue, while Starbucks wants you to relax at their coffee shops and Virgin Holidays wants you to get excited about booking a trip.

Author of Colour Psychology Today, June Mcleod, author of Colour Psychology Today: “One of the greatest assets and one of the easiest ways to sway decision or attract an emotive response — or alienate a consumer — is through colour. Purple with Cadbury; Shell with Yellow; National Trust with Green — they all work and work wonderfully well.”

Right and wrong don’t really come into the thought process behind choosing a colour for a brand, however some are definitely preferred over others — for example, the Halifax and Santander banks feature contrasting colours — the choice you make is important. Consider the statistic that 80% of clients think a colour is accountable for brand recognition. If you want your customers to gain a sense of loyalty and familiarity with your brand, the colour should reflect your brand’s products, services and character.

Implementing colours into your advertising campaigns

Regardless of whether you’re propelling a business or thinking about a difference in appearance, there’s always time to incorporate the psychology of colour to enhance your brand. Take beer company, Carlsberg, for example. The marketing team here worked to rebrand using colour with great success. Using white for its Carlberg Export packaging and changing its formerly green bottles to brown; the company achieved 10,000 new distribution points and a sales increase of 10% in the 12 weeks leading to summer in 2017.

So, how do you incorporate these findings into your brand and use colour effectively when marketing?

  • Consider your demographic: there are clearly some difference in how men and women perceive colour. Who do you mainly sell to? If it’s men, perhaps take these gender studies on board and avoid purple…
  • Capitalise on the advantages of red and yellow: use these on your large print ads to increase the chances of catching the eyes of passers-by.
  • Contrast your colours: as we discovered, using opposite shades (e.g. red and green) can improve text clarity — essential considering you have just seven seconds to make a bold first impression and get your point across.
  • Work out your brand’s ‘personality’: studies clearly show an affiliation between colour and emotion. Determine what you want consumers to think about your brand and choose a colour that reflects this ethos — whether it’s opulent (black) or fun (orange).

Make 2018 a key year in your business by considering the power of colour when marketing and branding.

About The Author

Adrian Grant

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