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The Psychology of Colour in Marketing

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Colour affects our perception of the world much more than we think. In marketing, we pay special attention to this, because the wrong colour can damage the reputation of the brand and harm sales. Think about colour the next time you are creating email or social media ads.

Colours also affect how customers perceive a brand’s personality. And while colours generally reflect certain emotions, they should create a brand image rather than try to maintain stereotypical colour associations.

The bottom line is that colour in a brand’s advertising or corporate identity affects emotions, decision-making, and consumer attitudes toward the brand and its products in general. All of these things happen on a subconscious level. The challenge for the marketer and designer is to choose a colour that will be associated with your activity and increase conversion, not the other way around.

The main functions of colour in advertising are: reflecting the essence of the product or service, attracting attention, emphasising the individual elements of the advertisement, and forming the attitude to the proposal.

There is no universal cheat sheet for choosing colours for your brand; each case is unique and depends a lot on the context, the values being communicated, and the task of setting yourself apart from the competition. However, below we’ll take a look at the main colours used in famous logos of popular brands, and maybe this will help you decide what to choose.

Black

With the help of black, it is possible to achieve a sense of mystery and sophistication. It has long been adopted by elite brands – almost all the logos of fashionable fashion brands are executed in black. If you choose black as a background, the other elements must be contrasting.

White

White is a universal colour that goes well with all others. In advertising, it is used to show the safety and freshness of the product or to convey a modern image. White backgrounds help to emphasise important details, in addition to contrast, creating a sense of reliability and loyalty.

Red

Red is a strong and aggressive colour. It has a dominant feature, and therefore brands that use it for their logos are trying to dominate the market.  In advertising, red is also often used to draw attention to discounts and promotions, which are limited in time.

Blue

Blue is often used by companies whose products cannot be felt but must be trusted – online services, payment systems, banks, and insurance companies. Certain shades of blue evoke a sense of freshness and purity.

Green

Green is used in advertising for everything connected with nature, eco-products, and health. Also, this colour can often be found in food advertisements, as it gives a sense of “naturalness”. Green also means progress and development, so it is not surprising that it is the main colour shade of the Duolingo Logo.

Brown

It is the colour of wood, earth, and nature. It emphasises trust and centuries-old traditions. Brown is found in advertising for furniture, coffee shops, cafes, construction companies, alcohol, clothing and shoes, products for men, cars, and agricultural products. Brown is a very cosy and warm colour, associated also with leather and chocolate.

Orange 

This colour is used for promotional purposes less often than all the others. It is suitable for entertainment and mass-production products. It is not for nothing that orange is the main colour of the largest marketplaces Amazon and Aliexpress. Orange can be seen in advertisements for appliances, beverages, toys, and fruit. Orange is also a symbol of luxury as the main colour on the Hermes logo.

Yellow 

Yellow is an eye-catching colour, but it can also be a warning about something. It is often used to attract impulsive customers who are driven by emotion before buying. Yellow is rarely used by luxury brands but is seen more often in advertisements for fast food, cabs, youth clothes, food products, money transfers, and leisure products.

The psychology of colour is the science that studies how colours and their shades influence human perception and behaviour. To choose the right colour for your brand, you need to follow these rules:

  • The colour must be appropriate.
  • The colour should demonstrate the uniqueness of the brand.
  • Colour should appeal to your target audience
  • Colour should distinguish your brand

Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg.

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