How Colors Can Transform Your Marketing
Written by: Sahil Dhaliwal
Look around. How many colors do you see?
Many of us don’t think twice about the colors we’re inundated with daily unless we’re awe-struck by a spectacular sunset or a really blue beach. Colors have a lasting impact on our mood and behavior – and since the main goal of marketers is to persuade people to trust and buy their product, it’s exactly why marketers have gotten stuff like color psychology down to a science.
We’ve all assumed that a consumer decides whether they’re interested in a product fairly quickly after the first impression, but you probably didn’t know that color itself makes up about 90% of that decision.
Colors have the power to influence our moods, enhance messages, cause something or someone to stand out from the rest, and so on. A study found that consumers make up their minds about a product within the first 90 seconds, but what’s incredible is that up to 90% of that impression is based on color alone.
Before we get into the persuasive power of each color, let’s preface this by mentioning: 1) there is no one color that “works” better than the rest and 2) there are no hard and fast rules to this. Colors can work in myriad ways and brands succeed or fail by ‘breaking the rules’ every day. But enough chit-chat, let’s get into colors:
Most of us know red indicates emotions like passion or excitement, but marketers use red to promote sales/deals, signify entertainment, create urgency, increase appetite (think fast food!) or signal medical aid. Quite the versatile color, red is all about raising your heart rate, keeping you alert and grabbing your attention (or your hunger).
Examples: McDonald’s, Target, Arbys, Trader Joes, Ralphs, CVS, Netflix, YouTube
We all know green represents nature, so it’s no stretch that it also signifies health, wealth, vitality, sustainability, comfort and tranquility. Lots of marketers have used the color green to appeal to the environmentalist in most consumers, making ‘going green’ or ‘green friendly’ claims.
Examples: Whole Foods, Starbucks, Spotify, Animal Planet, Subway, Tropicana
Studies have shown that gender has an impact on color preference, so it’s no shock that Blue is a favorite amongst men. Blue signifies productivity, strength, stoicism, trust, and serenity. Blue’s sense of calm professionalism is what influences many financial or corporate brands to use it.
Examples: Chase Bank, American Express, Facebook, PayPal, Samsung, Dell
The color orange is a definite attention grabber, conveying enthusiasm, playfulness, joy, cheer, or even refreshing, citrusy goodness. Orange is also used in marketing to showcase great deals and affordability, which marketers often use when persuading impulsive buyers. Careful though! Too much orange can signify danger, caution or aggression.
Examples: Home Depot, Payless, Nickelodeon, SoundCloud, Amazon
The famous color of a highlighter, yellow is known for straining the eye, calling our attention, stimulating our minds and getting us to take action. Yellow is also used by brands to convey speed and low cost while also evoking a sense of optimism, fun, and playfulness. Like orange, it can be used to persuade impulsive buyers. Careful, though! Too much yellow can cause irritation or anxiety. It’s all about balance!
Examples: Kworq ;), Snapchat, McDonald’s, Lays, National Geographic, CAT, Best Buy
In line with persistent gendered constructs, pink has often been associated with girls, femininity, youth, innocence, care and even frailty. However, pink is a great example of a color that brands can use to go against the grain and redefine. Since it’s regarded as such a safe color, pink is used by more gender-neutral or masculine brands to convey innovation or the unconventional.
Examples: Dunkin’ Donuts, AirBnB, Lyft, T Mobile, Cosmopolitan, Baskin Robbins
The color of royalty, purple indicates success, tradition, wealth and even wisdom. Often used in luxury brands or mature cosmetic lines, purple has proven to be pretty versatile because it can also convey a sense of youthfulness, playfulness, creativity or mystery and even ignite our imaginations!
Examples: Yahoo!, Lakers, Curves, Cadbury
The color white evokes a sense of spaciousness, purity, a breath of fresh air, and even used to contrast black and enhance a neutral, sleek look. White’s used often in more modern packaging, aligned with the minimalist marketing style that’s currently trending. Because of its spaciousness and breathability, white often conveys a sense of creativity and imagination.
Examples: Squarespace, MiniCooper, Chanel, Apple, Sony, Google
Since black is usually the default or the neutral, most brands tend to seek out other colors. But there’s something to be said for brands that stick to black, redefining neutral on their own terms – not every brand can do it. The color black implies sleekness, power, control and sophistication. If a majority of branding includes black, it indicates the brand is confident in its image and purpose, exuding a bold, independent, authority.
Examples: Apple, Adidas, Nike, Sony, Prada, Chanel, Gucci, Lexus, Puma
As you can see, colors can be used in a bunch of different ways (and we haven’t even got into the color combinations, shades, or hues yet!). There’s no denying that color has a powerful impact on our psychology and a brand’s success. But there is no one size fits all. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods both convey healthy alternatives to a regular grocery market – and yet they use drastically different colors in their marketing. And though we’ve stated that red is optimal for fast food chains, Taco Bell uses purple and pink and is still a fast-food favorite! There may not be anyone color that works better than the others, but knowing the rules so you can use, break, or redefine the rules… is how great marketing strategies are made.
READ MORE ABOUT COLOR PSYCHOLOGY:
Also published on Medium.