If someone tells you to paint your room walls green for a happy and peaceful life, don’t think of it as a mere superstition.
There is solid science behind how colors can affect the way you feel. Colors can influence your emotions to an extent that can drive your actions. This may sound like a hocus-pocus but it is exactly the phenomenon that makes most restaurants choose red as their primary brand aura. Bright colors can fuel one’s temptation i.e. make you feel hungrier.
Brands invest a lot of money in getting the colors right, not just for their logo or website, but also for every marketing message that reaches their prospects.
A study on the impact of color in marketing revealed that color alone contributes to 75 percent of snap judgment about a certain product or brand. A button color A/B test of a website showed that a red Call to Action button outperformed the green one by 21 percent.
While science backs color psychology, there are many other cultural and social elements and factors you need to consider. Marketers should also keep in mind that a combination that works for one target group may not be as effective with another group. Similarly, you must decide which color scheme is best for your website’s design. PNC Digital, an agency known for its SEO services in Orlando has put together a list of conversion-centric design rules on their blog. Remember, even a slight change in the design and theme can drive more sales and conversion. At the end of the day, it all boils down to what your product/service is and who your target audience is.
Basic Colors and Their Emotional Impact
Starting with the basics, let’s look at the commonly used colors in marketing and how they influence buying decisions.
It is the most commonly used color in marketing. While most restaurants and retail stores have red in their logo, SALE signs with the red font are common. Red is a stimulant for our mind; it can create excitement and a sense of urgency. It grabs attention better than any color. So, when you really need your consumers to leave everything else and act, red is your best bet.
Examples – Coca-Cola, KFC, YouTube, Target
Just like red, yellow is also a bright color that our brain just can’t ignore. It is a cheerful and happy color, yet too much of it can trigger anxiety. Therefore, it is a color that can bring impulsive buyers into your store. Less intense than red, it can make your brand appear creative, young, fun, and exciting.
Examples – McDonald’s, IKEA, Nikon
This platform right here utilizes the color blue to establish its trustworthiness and authority. Blue is a calm and cool color that invokes trust and security, which is why it is employed by most social media platforms since they require you to provide personal information. Unlike red and yellow, blue curbs appetite and excitement. It is more about patience, peace, and productivity.
Examples – Facebook, Twitter, Dell, American Express – practically every B2B corporation.
Green is akin to an anti-depressant. It denotes hope, growth, and wellness. It calms down the nerves of already anxious consumers. It is why green is preferred by hospital and wellness. It is also used for signs showing destinations and distance. This prevents unwanted urgency and anxiety for the drivers. Since it’s the color of Mother Earth, brands use it to attract eco-conscious customers. It makes your brand appear responsible.
Examples – NVidia, Starbucks, Subway, Whole Foods
Black is a powerful color that shows authority, intelligence, and stability. It is intimidating and therefore used in combination with other colors. For marketing messages, notices and warnings, black font is preferred. It is used by brands with premium products or product line that caters to professionals. You will see it used commonly by luxury car brands or high street designer labels.
Examples– Adidas, Lexus, Gucci
It Is All About Experimenting with Colors
Now color psychology isn’t as simple as understanding what each color denotes. There are endless shades for each hue and when thrown into a mix, every combination has a different impact.
A Perfect Combination
Brands experiment with different shades and combinations to create the desired impact. For instance, black with gold can show luxury and premium products while black with green is a combination preferred by tech companies. Using different shades of the same color is also a widely used practice in marketing.
Creating a Contrast
Contrast is very important, especially for your marketing material with lots of text involved. Lack of contrast can put a lot of strain on the eyes. Therefore, complementary colors are used to make it easier to read and comprehend. Once again, you can use dark and light shades of the same color to create a contrast.
In marketing, accent colors are the main attention grabber. A study about color combination reveals that consumers prefer combinations with brighter accent colors. It is one reason most brands go for a three colored theme with two main colors and the third accent color that usually stands out due to its vibrancy despite its limited usage.
The Exceptions – Other Factors that Impact Color Psychology
Let’s not forget that psychology is, to an extent, a personal phenomenon. While there is a general side to it, much of it is also shaped by our personal experiences. Factors like culture and gender can change the way a person perceives a certain color.
Ever wondered why we regard some colors as feminine and others as masculine? It is not just pink and blue. It can be different shades of purple or brown as well. Studies confirm the difference between male and female color preferences. So, while pink may denote beauty, you will never see it used for a male beauty product.
There is always a color you aren’t as fond of today as you were a few years back. Our color preferences change with age, and it is a fact one cannot overlook in marketing. Brighter colors, especially orange and yellow, turned out to be the least favorite among the elderly. Older people prefer calmer and cooler colors like grey, white, and blue.
Our culture shapes our preferences in many ways. In some cultures, purple is the color of death while in others it is the color of success, achievement and royalty. Religion also seems to have an influence on the way we perceive colors. In many cultures, black is the least favorite color due to its association with mourning. Therefore, when launching an international campaign, be careful of the cultural color perception and preference.