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Colour Psychology and How You Can Use it to Market Your Brand

Why is Coca Cola branded in red? Why does Starbucks use green? And why should your brand stick with a particular colour?

Colour psychology is a powerful marketing tool that, sadly, is not taken too seriously by most marketers or entrepreneurs building their brands. Most of them will be doubling down on their SEO, content marketing, and PPC campaigns, forgetting to create the perfect palette. 

There’s nothing wrong with pursuing marketing excellence in these common areas. But as research on colour psychology shows, despite the 80% effort you may put into other marketing avenues, your choice of colours may contribute to the 20% you’re lacking.

According to Satyendra Singh’s report, “Impact of Color on Marketing,” it takes shoppers 90 seconds to make an initial judgment on a product. 62% to 90% of these decisions are influenced by colour.

Do you want to change your colour narrative? Here’s all you need to know about colour psychology, why it matters to your brand and marketing, and what some of the most popular colours mean to consumers.

What is Colour Psychology?

Colour psychology is the study of how colours influence behaviour and perception. 

In marketing and branding, colour psychology focuses on the impact of colours on a consumer’s impression of a brand and how they persuade them to make a purchase or consider the brand.

Why Colour Psychology is Important in Marketing

Knowing colour psychology is essential when building a new business, creating marketing assets, or rebranding an existing enterprise. 

Colour is a powerful communication tool. It incites emotion and evokes feelings that can be very persuasive. For instance, when it comes to fashion, one report shows that 42% of women use colour to decide whether they’ll buy a piece of clothing or not before considering the brand.

When you choose the right colours, your brand stands out from the competition and blends with your consumer’s tastes and choices, improving the efficacy of your marketing campaigns.

Colour also makes it easy for your brand to control its perception and messaging. Therefore, the consumers receive your brand as you want them to. 

Colour also has a very significant functional implication. If you choose the wrong colours for your marketing content, such as logos and texts, your campaign may be illegible, making it hard for the audience to pick up what you meant.

How Marketers and Entrepreneurs Approach Colour Psychology

Each colour has a unique influence on consumers. Therefore, using the right approach to use coluor psychology effectively is essential in ensuring your branding and marketing efforts benefit from it.

Entrepreneurs use different approaches to ensure they’ve picked the right colours for their brands and marketing content.

One common and hands-on approach is to ask a focus group what pops into their minds when they see a particular colour. The colour that speaks well about your brand will have the most mentions, directing your choice toward it.

You can also look at competitors for inspiration. This research-driven approach constrains your brand to colours tested to work in the market. Alternatively, it allows you to experiment with colours your rivals haven’t chosen to increase brand awareness and make your business stand out.

Brands seeking an innovative and unique identity can turn to unorthodox colour selections to subvert expectations and look different. That means avoiding typical colours, such as green for calm and black for high-end.

The Limitations of Colour Psychology 

Ideally, colour psychology seeks to classify people’s exact reactions to different colours. But that’s realistically impossible.

Colour perception heavily depends on personal experiences, making it challenging to narrow each down to specific feelings. According to research, experiences, personal preferences, cultural differences, upbringing, and context significantly affect the effect of colours on us.

Therefore, the emotions evoked by a particular colour are not hyper-specific. Instead, they’re also context-dependent, giving brands more wiggle room to experiment with the full palette of colours and see what works for their audience.

For instance, despite green being the default colour for most environmental organisations, financial services companies such as Mint also make good use of the colour in a way that resonates with their audience.

Brown is generally associated with a rugged look and feel. That’s why a brand such as Saddleback Leather uses it. However, brown can evoke a warm and inviting feeling in a different context, making it the perfect colour for thanksgiving marketing content. 

Brown can also stir appetite, making it the preferred colour for chocolate commercials.

Therefore, colour psychology is not about finding a tell-all colour script. Instead, it’s about looking for practical ways and context for making the right colour decisions.

The Psychology Behind Some Popular Colours

Here’s a list of some popular colours and the general psychology behind them to get you started on choosing the right colour for your brand.

Red Colour

Red is often associated with attention, passion, excitement, energy, danger, and action. That’s why some brands use red for their “order now” buttons or for their packaging to make their products more prominent on the shelves. 

Red is also a very intense colour that can provoke strong emotions. When used sparingly, it triggers danger or adds a nice contrast to your website or store design.

Iconic brands such as YouTube and Coca Cola use red often in their branding. 

For instance, Coca Cola pairs red with exciting branding messages to spread happiness as the brand’s message. YouTube uses red in its play icon to draw attention to its videos and entice users to watch them.

Orange Colour

Orange is associated with adventure, creativity, success, enthusiasm, and balance. It often adds a bit of fun to a website, picture, or marketing material it’s on. 

Despite being attractive, it’s less commanding than red. However, when placed well, you can still use it as the colour for a call to action or website section you want to draw the visitor’s attention to.

Examples of big brands that use orange include The Home Depot and Nickelodeon. 

Nickelodeon, which airs kids’ shows, aptly uses orange to portray the enthusiasm and creativity a kid’s show should have. 

The Home Depot, which mostly sells “Do It Yourself” products, uses orange to convey creativity and encourage buyers to adjust and renovate their homes.

Blue Colour

Blue ranks as the most favorite colour globally, with most men preferring it to women. Several brands also prefer using blue, given its calming tone. Blue also brings a sense of strength, security, trust, and wisdom.

Iconic brands such as Facebook and Twitter use blue. For these social media companies, the colour blue makes them appear dependable, a crucial trait given the terabytes of sensitive user data they store.

However, blue can also have negative connotations. For instance, blue suppresses appetite since there are very few natural blue foods. It can also convey unfriendliness and coldness.

Purple Colour

Purple is often associated with royalty and superiority. This association goes back to the Roman empire when high-ranking officials wore Tyrian purple, which was costlier than gold at the time. Queen Elizabeth I also reportedly banned citizens outside the royal family from wearing purple.

Thanks to these ancient associations, purple is often linked with wealth, wisdom, and sophistication. Brands use the colour to show that their product, service, or experience is superior.

However, purple can convey moodiness, decadence, and excessiveness if misused. Therefore, use it sparingly.

Purple is also strongly associated with a feminine audience. 

Green Colour

Green is often associated with tranquility, health, nature, and power. Stores use it to relax customers, while environmental brands commonly use it to convey ecological issues. It also encourages balance, drives decisiveness, and stimulates harmony in the brain. 

Examples of big brands that use green include John Deere, Starbucks, BP, and Whole Foods.

The green in Starbucks promotes a sense of relaxation, inviting customers to coffee in its cafes. John Deere uses green since the company is associated with farming and agriculture. You can immediately recognise the company’s green branding on a machine in the field or backyard.

Whole Foods deals in natural, high-quality, and organic products, thus using green in its logo to promote a sense of health and nature.

BP uses green to intentionally or not associate itself with the environment.

Pink Colour

Pink is often associated with kindheartedness, love, and romance. It’s a more feminine colour despite being occasionally used in male products and services. Pink is also used to offset more aggressive colours such as orange, red, and black since it offers a soothing effect. 

Since pink is also fun, frivolous, and feminine, it’s typically used to grab the attention of young females by fashion and beauty brands. Examples of top brands using pink include Victoria’s Secret and NastyGal.

Yellow Colour

Yellow is often associated with cheerfulness, confidence, and playfulness. It works well when you want to grab your consumer’s attention and show them your brand’s confidence in its products and services.

Hues of yellow and other warm colours also evoke feelings of love, tenderness, and a positive attitude, making them an excellent choice for a pet supplies and accessories business. 

For an e-commerce site, it makes different parts of the website stand out, especially important information that can otherwise be skipped over.

However, yellow is not very good for conversion elements such as CTAs.

Black Colour

Black is a trendy colour in retail. It’s symbolic of power, mystery, sophistication, and elegance. However, it can also evoke anger and sadness.

Several fashion retailers use black in their logos, with a selection of black and white images for their icons and lifestyle banner images. Black is also a prevalent text colour since it’s easy to read.

Retailers like Nike and Channel use black for their logos, website, and CTAs.

White Colour

White is often associated with goodness, innocence, humility, and cleanliness. However, this is the North American translation. In some other parts of the world, white has the opposite meaning.

Therefore, you should carefully choose white based on your target audience.

Even in North American culture, white can still have a negative connotation when used to symbolise cold and sterility. 

Most e-commerce websites use white for the background of the website and product photos. The white website background will often be paired with black font text. Black text on a white background is often the best combination for readability.

ASOS and Adidas predominantly use white in their marketing.

The Benefits of Choosing The Right Colour for Your Brand

‘There are numerous benefits to choosing the right colour for your brand. They include:

The Right Colour Makes Your Brand Look Appropriate

According to a study, the relationship between a brand and its colour relies on how appropriate the colour is for the brand. Essentially, a brand’s colour should fit what is being sold.

According to another research, predicting the customers’ reaction to a colour’s appropriateness is more beneficial than randomly choosing the colours themselves. Therefore, collecting customer feedback should be a top priority when selecting brand colours.

The Right Colour Showcases Your Brand’s Personality

According to research, your brand’s perception will affect the customer’s purchasing intent. Your customer’s perception of the brand and its personality is tied to the brand colours. 

The most important consideration is ensuring that your choice of colours portrays the personality you intend for your brand instead of blending in with stereotypic colour associations. 

The Right Colour Appeals to Your Target Consumer

Colour psychology cuts as deep as gender. Besides cultural perception, research on Western societies shows apparent colour preference differences across genders. 

Additional research shows that men generally prefer bold colours when it comes to tints, shades, and hues, while women lean toward softer colours. Even outside gender stereotypes, you can still appeal to the right audience using the right colour palette. 

The Right Colour Makes Your Brand Unique

According to research, our brains prefer immediately recognisable brands. Therefore, colour plays a vital role in brand identity. New brands should pick colours different from the competition’s and defy colour stereotypes while still bearing a significant meaning among their audience.

For instance, one study shows that highly contrasting accent colours draw more attention than colour patterns with similar hues, which most consumers traditionally preferred.

Get the Help of a Professional to Convey the Right Brand Message

Colour is a vital part of any brand. It dictates your brand’s perception and the success of its marketing messages. However, getting it right can still be daunting, given the large blueprint colour psychology gives you.

Turn to a professional to discover what colour will work for your brand based on the intended messaging and perception.

Over to You…

Do you agree with Colour Psychology and How You You Can Use it to Market Your Brand? Or is there something missing, or you would like to add?? Would love to hear from you in the comments – any feedback is greatly appreciated.

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