Say it with colors! A quick guide to color psychology for marketing.
This might be a simple question, but have you ever stopped and wondered, how do we perceive the world around us?
Well, the answer is not as simple. The perception process can be more complex than it seems. Think of it as the sensory experience of the world. It’s the way we recognize our environment and how we react to it.
In basic terms and for the purpose of this article, perception involves the five senses: touch, sight, sound, smell, and taste. They all play together continuously and mostly unconsciously in a sequence of steps that begins with the environment and leads to our perception of a stimulus and action in response to the stimulus.
We will focus on sight, as the subject of our attention will be color. Without getting too technical, the way we see and understand things is as follows: We look at something, that image is transformed into an electrical signal which is then interpreted by our brain, and finally, an action, whether physical or emotional, will be triggered.
Color is everywhere, and we need to understand the psychological effect it has on people because it plays an important role in how your brand is perceived. Color psychology studies the effect of colors on human behavior.
The color wheel features two types of colors: warm tones and cool tones. Warm tones include red, orange, and yellow; and are associated with energy, passion, and creativity. Cold colors include green, purple, and blue; and have a calming, soothing effect on people.
There is another type of color that is not represented on the traditional color wheel: neutral tones. Neutral tones include white, grey, and brown. Colors can evoke specific reactions and feelings. Your color palette can influence how customers feel about your brand. Subtle changes in color schemes, distribution, and arrangement can influence sales, conversion, reliability, and brand loyalty.
Here’s a quick overview of the way we perceive colors.
There’s nothing mellow about Yellow!
Psychologically, this is the strongest color. It stimulates mental process, encourages communication, increases cheerfulness and confidence. It’s an attention grabber, however; too much yellow may cause anxiety. Brands will usually use yellow on happy news advertisements, like “free shipping” or “grab yours now” and “redeem here."
Blue is the color of the mind. It inspires loyalty and is essentially soothing. It curbs appetite and represents calmness and serenity. It increases productivity, and it creates a sense of security and trust. Many major brands known for durability, strength, and reliability use blue on their branding.
Red, Of Course!
Red is a powerful color, an attention grabber. When you see or think of red, it evokes strong emotions, it increases the appetite and the heart rate. Red symbolizes love, passion, danger, thrill, action, excitement, and energy. It creates a sense of urgency and it’s related to survival, safety, and alertness. Brands use this color on their “call to action buttons” or to promote special sales and limited-time offers.
Green is easy on the eyes. It is the color of balance. It signifies growth, health, fertility, wealth, generosity, and tranquility. It denotes nature and alleviates depression. It can also be associated with negative connotations such as jealousy and envy.
There’s a shade of Purple
This color combines the stability of blue and the energy and power of red. It’s the color of royalty, success, power, wealth, wisdom, creativity, mystery, and regeneration. Purple can be invasive, and too much of this color invites distraction and introspection. Most successful brands that use this color fall in the category of luxury, and they use a splash of purple across their branding.
It reflects enthusiasm and excitement and shows warmth. It’s also the color of caution. Brands with orange are viewed as cheerful and confident. Orange is often representative of creativity, happiness, freedom, and success. It is a combination of red and yellow, therefore it provokes both the physical and the emotional. Keep that in mind for branding purposes.
White as Snow, said the Queen!
It denotes cleanliness, purity, and safety and can be used to project neutrality. It’s the most common color used by marketers when advertising coupons and price discounts. In fact, some of the biggest global brands like Google use white to create contrast on their home pages. White is the color of clarity, freshness, and used to spark creativity.
Once you go Black…
Black is the absence of light, and it can be menacing. But when used cleverly, this is the color of sophistication, mystery, uniqueness, boldness, and control. It’s the color used to sell sleek and high-end items. When used too much, it can be subliminally repulsive as it will denote negativity and oppression. When branding, this is also a great color to use in combination with all others as it subtly draws attention.
Don’t frown upon the Brown!
Brown is also a neutral color. You get it by mixing red, yellow, and blue, so think about those properties. It denotes the same seriousness as black, but it’s softer and warmer. It’s a reliable supportive color. In marketing and branding, most neutral colors are used as backgrounds.
Just as a painter chooses and mixes within his color palette, you can study color meanings to help you better attract and connect to your ideal customer.
It is important to keep in mind that the same color can also have different meanings that are dependent on our upbringing, gender, location, values, and a variety of other factors. Also, the shade of the color will have a different perception, and remember that if chosen correctly, your color palette can influence how customers feel about your brand.