Why Marketers Should Know Color Psychology

Why Marketers Should Know Color Psychology
16 Dec 2020 / by Jordan Huber in Brand Marketing

When buying a product 93% of buyers focus on the visual appearance. That’s a high percentage, which is why I thought it’d be interesting to research color psychology and share my findings with you all. I’ve realized color is such an emotional cue. Even hue choice affects how usable/legible your content is. A poor pick on the color wheel can negatively affect your brand and we don’t want that! So, let’s go through each color’s pros and cons, shall we? 

The Many Moods of Color

Red

Red is a powerful, dynamic color that signifies love, fear, survival, aggression, passion and excitement. When I became aware of this, I stopped to reflect when I encountered brands that utilized red like Target, Netflix and Coca-Cola. Did the red make me feel energized or overwhelmed? Usually, energized. Red is great for bold brands seeking attention but remember to not go overboard. The extreme color can cause negative reactions. 

Orange

Orange is a beautiful blend of red’s power and yellow’s cheer. It embodies physical comfort, warmth, positivity, enthusiasm and gratitude; however, 26% of people believe the lighter shades of orange look cheap, so if your heart is set on this color, do research on which tints appeal to the eye from a branding perspective. It can also stimulate our appetite. Did ya hear that food brands?

Yellow

No one is shocked that yellow radiates optimism, clarity, inspiration, and joy! The wavelength of yellow is especially long making it the easiest to visibly see. This also renders a more powerful psychological meaning. Using too much yellow in your design can have consequences. Yellow not only ignites anxiety but also self-esteem issues and frustration so it’s a balancing act of finding the right amount to motivate consumers rather than agitate them. Fun (or not so fun) fact: yellow is the first color babies respond to but not in a good way…this color activates the anxiety center of the brain which results in tears from these little guys so maybe rethink painting your baby’s room yellow!

Green

Nature! That’s the first thing people think of when they hear the word “green.” It makes sense that green stands for growth, harmony, health and balance; things we often feel or are reminded of in nature. The color reflects peace, rest and life. You know rebrand designers for BP were well aware of this when making the shift to green as a core brand color. The British oil and gas company has a history of deadly mistakes impacting workers, animals and the environment so in 2000, they also changed their logo to a “Helios” to represent the sun’s energy, and brightened up their colors with green reflecting their promise to be a leader in clean energy and in due time, it worked. The good very much so outweighs the bad with this color; however, it can bring forward notions of materialism and over-possession but that is rarely the case from a marketing lens.

Blue

Ahhh, trusty blue. Dependable, responsible, authentic and soothing are all words used to describe this color. These are the types of people and spaces others gravitate towards. Red tends to bring out a physical reaction while blue lends a more mental reaction that alleviates stress and calms our senses. It makes sense that each year it continues to be one of the most-liked colors across the globe. Blue’s qualities of trustworthiness and genuineness make it a good color for building relationships – keep that in mind when planning your next client pitch. 

Purple

Purple possesses a type of magic about it. It manifests imagination, spirituality, luxury, wisdom, loyalty, courage, and mystery. It holds the energy and power of red along with the reliability and stability of blue, allowing purple to embody the perfect balance of the physical and spiritual. Purple brews creative energy which is great but it can be a distraction and cause the mind to drift so I suggest using purple in small doses like Roku or Hallmark

Pink

Pink gleams compassion, openness, empathy, sensitivity and love. Though many people like pink regardless of their gender, it has been found to be more appealing to women so a beauty brand will likely have more success using this color in their branding than a power tools company. The vulnerability pink brings out is lovely but too much pink, can be draining or come off as immature. Something fascinating about pink is its tie to breast cancer awareness and how the color has been abused by brands to make profit. This is called “pinkwashing.”

White

Aligning with white are purity, cleanliness, innocence, peace, and balance. It’s odd to refer to it as a color because it is actually the absence of color. There are two ways white is displayed in marketing; active white space is used to organize page structure to guide the user through content and passive white space enhances the aesthetics of the design without a specific content flow. Don’t be afraid of white space; simplicity can be a good thing however, too much white can signal isolation and emptiness. 

Brown

Though it’s not very visually appealing, brown offers a sense of security, structure and protection. Perhaps the morning ritual I adore of journaling and a warm cup of coffee doesn’t only satisfy me with the warmth and taste but also offers a sense of safety from the dark brown color. On the contrary, it can seem boring and reserved and not make any impact on the consumer at all or worse, turn them away. 

Black

Sophistication, independence, elegance, power, seriousness and control are all moods that come alive when black is present. Black is great to use if you’re looking for a deep contrast or legibility (so it’s perfect for text) but I would avoid using a lot of black in your graphics as too much of it can instigate sadness and negativity. Pro tip: be conscientious of your industry when using this color. For example, black is powerful in the fashion industry (Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton, etc.) but is unnerving associated with healthcare. 

So, we can see that color psychology is pivotal for marketers to be aware of. Colors impact our mood perhaps more than we realize so being intentional about which ones you choose to personify your business is crucial. Now I have three action items for you:

1) Think about how you want to make consumers feel when they come across your brand.

2) Go back through this blog and pinpoint which colors can help you achieve that.

3) Implement those colors into your branding and voila! Consumer attitude will shift in your favor. 🙂 

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