The psychology of colour in marketing

2nd March 2017 in Branding Advice | Printing Processes

The psychology of colour in marketing

The psychology of giving a colour a characteristic

Marketing your brand, product, charity or even your blog is the act of persuasion. It’s simply how you can you persuade a consumer to buy your product, donate to your charity or read your blog.

When advertising products and ideas, the visual appearance is the first thing a consumer will notice. The sound, smell and feel won’t be a factor at this point, it’s all about the visual. The colour of a logo or a product is the most important thing for that first impression. In now over a decade old research the Xerox Corporation found that 90% of consumers interviewed believe colour can assist in attracting new customers. 83% of those also believe colour makes the brand more successful.

Colour stir emotions and they bring back memories but each person is different so our reaction to colour will differ depending on life experience. The psychology of colour is always going to be an inexact science. Some colours have become synonymous with certain aspects of the market, a green logo may put across that this brand is healthy or eco-friendly. Red means discount and sales, but this is about as far as it goes.

Colour Emotion Guide - the psychology of colour

The Logo Company

The ability to change moods and illicit feelings and memories is why brands are desperate to attach characteristics to colours. They want their colours to be trusting, imaginative and confident. They want orange to portray friendliness and confidence, blue to evoke feelings of strength and trust and yellow having a glowing warmth and clarity to it, according to one colour emotion guide. But colours are self-defined, they can’t be explained or described by a group of characteristics.

Colour is a key factor in building people’s moods. It can enhance imagination and improve moods, but it’s unpredictable. The perception of the colour blue can change depending on age and gender. In Thailand and Brazil purple is a colour of mourning and is considered bad taste to wear purple when not attending a funeral, so culture and origin clearly plays a part. But there are generally accepted types of colours. There are warm and cold shades, dark and light and neutral colours.

There is no perfect set of colours to market with. The cold blues and greens may have a calming effect on some consumers and the warmer reds, oranges and pinks may be more eye-catching to the average customers but the colours need to fit the brand and match up with the colours they’re alongside. The neutral black on the yellow background on Ferrari’s badge helps the prancing horse stand out. Blue and white are a popular choice for all industries, examples being Ford’s logo, social media companies Facebook and Twitter and computer companies Dell and HP.

psychology of colour - Ferrari yellow and blackMoving away from the psychology of colour, one way to use colour in branding is the shock factor. An established company going against the grain in their marketing. Heinz did it with green (and other colours) ketchup which was a short-term success. Doritos recently had limited edition salsa and cheeseburger flavoured crisps, packed in black and white bags. The use of colour here is a marketing gimmick rather than a long-term strategy but because corporations attempt these gimmicks, it’s clear that simply changing the colour of the product or the packaging does have an effect on the consumer.

There isn’t likely to be a breakthrough in the area of psychology of colour any time soon so it’s up to charities and organisations marketing teams to create powerful and relevant branding to launch any marketing drives. The colour isn’t the only aspect of a well-designed logo but it’s the one that consumers will notice first.