We, the designers believe in the colour psychology and that colour can affect moods, feelings, and emotions. As the artist, Pablo Picasso once said, “Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.” By using colour to evoke different feelings, companies can increase the chances that consumers will respond positively to their product or service and, ultimately, make a purchase.
Colour psychology isn’t new. It actually began being studied in the 60s and 70s, although companies have been using different colours to create more effective marketing campaigns for much longer, at least since packaged goods manufacturers began selling their products.
There are a few key things that can help the designer clarify the practice of colour psychology and find the right colours for their client companies. The basics include the understanding of the importance of colour psychology, learning the significance of each colour, exploring Color Theory, finding the right ways to blend and use colours. Once you understand the basics of this effective marketing tool, you can implement it within your own marketing strategies to increase their effectiveness and propel your business to new heights.
Why Is Colour Psychology Important in Marketing?
Every product we buy, website we visit, and store we enter uses colour psychology in order to effectively market their products or services. This subtle yet pervasive practice influences what we buy when we buy it, and how much we’re willing to pay for it. Our perceived value of something can increase greatly if the colours used are psychologically appealing to us. In short, the colours a company uses can make or break their chances of success.
Considering this, it’s no wonder that some companies spend millions of dollars to perfect the way they use colour to market their brand. In fact, BP spent over $200 million for the creation of its newest logo. While these logos take more than just colour into consideration, colour psychology is a huge part of their marketing and branding.
Colour and Consumers
So, how do businesses without a multi-million-dollar branding budget use colour to enhance their branding and marketing? Obviously, a startup won’t have a huge budget to hire psychologists and marketing experts to craft the perfect colour palette for their brand. However, colour psychology is a relatively easy practice to learn and implement on your own.
Start by identifying what your client’s company is selling and how it’s best to market it. You will also want to understand how you want their potential customers to feel when they see the brand you will design for your client. Once those questions have been answered, you can explore the different colour options and craft them in a way that shows off your client’s brand personality and attracts new customers.
Popular Brand Colours and their Meanings
Consumers tend to subconsciously assign meanings and feelings to certain colours. While some people may view colours differently or assign alternate meanings to them, the majority of consumers view the following colours in similar ways. The main things to consider when looking at these popular colours are their common word associations, their preferences according to gender, and the mood and emotions the colours evoke. Once these aspects of colour are understood, it’s much easier to choose the right colour for your client’s brand.
Grey has been exploding in popularity with marketing campaigns, branding, and design. While it is often used alongside a bright accent colour, grey on its own represents modernity, wisdom, balance, and intense emotions. Grey is an incredibly versatile neutral and is able to be paired with nearly any colour. The neutrality of grey makes it a colour that appeals to either gender, but darker greys tend to be read as more masculine while lighter greys are perceived to be feminine. Some reactions to the colour grey can be a feeling of indecisiveness or a lack of emotion, so brands should be careful not to rely on greys too heavily. The modernity and balance of grey make it a favourite among car and tech companies, as can be witnesses in the logos for Honda, Mercedes, and Audi, as well as Nintendo and Apple.
Always a favourite among the high class and fashionable, black evokes feelings of rebellion, modernity, style, and professionalism. Black is rarely a standalone colour in a brand, but some brands use the simplicity of black and a neutral like white or grey to create a simplistic, highbrow design. Black on its own is gender-neutral, relying on other colours to push it to masculinity or femininity. This makes black a great colour for brands that want to appeal to both genders. Consumers read black as formal and dignified, which allows brands to use this colour to obtain a sense of sophistication. Some brands that rely on black in their branding include Jack Daniels, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Gucci, all featuring simple designs using black and white.
The perfect accent to a clean design, white is thought to be youthful, light, clean, and airy. White is a gender-neutral colour, but studies show that men may favour white slightly more than women. Obviously white can’t be the sole colour of a design, but many brands rely on white to convey their brand’s message. White can sometimes be read as impartial and efficient, but since it is paired with another colour in logos, it doesn’t have to stand alone to make an impression. Some brands that use white, simple designs include Adidas, Nike, Mini Cooper, Tesla, and Cotton Brand.
Red can be a very polarizing colour, but when used correctly, it’s a great way to make a brand memorable and remarkable. Red is a colour that invokes feelings of celebration, passion, love, and power. Red is a strong colour that, when paired with a neutral, can create a truly unforgettable brand and marketing campaign. Red is a predominantly masculine colour, though, if used in the right way, it can read feminine, as well. Red is said to be stimulating, motivating, and assertive. One study suggests that red creates hunger, or conjures sweet tastes. Popular food and beverage brands like Coca Cola, KFC, Heinz, and Pepsi rely on red to convey their message and attract customers. Non-consumables brands, like 3M and H&M, also use red heavily in their logos.
Perhaps the happiest of all colours, yellow is a bright, cheery colour that can make a brand stand out. Yellow reminds people of sunlight, joy, optimism, and happiness. That makes it a great colour for brands that want potential customers to feel that using their product or service will leave them feeling more joyful and complete. Yellow is a more feminine colour, but darker hues can read masculine. Yellow feels motivating and creative, so brands like Snapchat, Ferrari, and Shell use the colour to convey their ingenuity. Yellow is also said to be a hunger-inducing colour, so McDonald’s and Burger King feature yellow predominately within their logos and marketing.
From deep hunter green to light mint, all shades of green represent growth, fertility, nature, and health. Green has been the go-to colour for organic and eco-friendly products, making it a trendy colour right now. Though darker shades may read more masculine and lighter shades more feminine, every shade can appeal to both genders. Green conveys a feeling of rejuvenation and dependability, which are great characteristics for any brand to have. Some of the most popular, memorable brands that rely on green for their logo and marketing are Starbucks, Whole Foods, Girl Scouts of America, Android, and Land Rover.
One survey found that the most appealing colour to both men and women around the world is blue. Shades of blue express tranquillity, wisdom, confidence, and creativity. While men favour the colour blue more than women, it’s a colour that is appealing to both genders. Blue brings about feelings of predictability and trustworthiness. Many of the world’s largest companies use blue in their branding. Social media giants Facebook and Twitter both feature blue logos. So, too, do Unilever, Intel, and Dell. But, perhaps the most iconic blue in branding is the unmistakable light blue used by Tiffany & Co. Their use of the hue is so well-known that their particular blue is popularly known as “Tiffany blue.”
Hot pink, soft pink, and every shade in between, the many shades of pink are associated with gratitude, marriage, appreciation, and love. Pink is traditionally a feminine colour, with soft pinks still being assigned to baby girls from birth. When people see the colour pink, they feel a sense of calm and caring. The brighter, hot pinks can also be read like fun, wild, and exciting. The feminine use of pink can be seen in brands like Barbie and Victoria’s Secret PINK. Baskin Robbins also uses pink in their logo to create excitement and interest. Other brands, like Lyft and T-Mobile, use pink to stand out among competitors.
The colour orange isn’t a heavily used colour, mostly due to uncertainty around matching it with other colours. Orange conveys energy, desire, royalty, and playfulness. Orange is a gender-neutral colour, though neither gender seems to heavily prefer it. Orange tends to read as enthusiastic and courageous, which means the use of orange will help brands stand out. Brands who use bright orange, like Shutterfly, Nickelodeon, Tide, and FedEx are very easily recognizable thanks to the bright colour. Amazon uses a yellow-orange for its signature smiley arrow beneath the brand name, for a cheery and creative vibe.
Purple, though most often used as an accent colour, can stand alone beautifully when used correctly. Purple is said to be a noble, mysterious, flamboyant, and prideful color. Purple leans toward being more feminine, with many women choosing it as their favourite colour. When people see purple, they view it as empathetic and respectful. Cadbury and Wonka use purple to convey the decadence of their brands, while Taco Bell and Yahoo! use it in more fun, flamboyant manner. Lastly, Hallmark uses the colour in a more empathetic and noble way.
Read more about the Basics of Color Theory, the right way to use and blend colours and why colour is important to marketing your client’s products dynamically on New Estate article here