You are probably thinking about what colours to use to brand your small business or blog, or you have already chosen your colours, but wondering what your choice of colour means and how it comes across to potential customers. Most marketers are aware of the psychology behind colour, so they use it to their advantage.
It has been said that the psychology of colour may affect behaviour and decisions made before or at the point of sale. We may not draw this conclusion, but it could be the reason why some consumers are willing to part ways with their money or time. Research into this is still ongoing, so it’s important to remember that your association with a certain colour may differ to others. It is largely about the experience we have had with this colour also, so please take that into account as you read.
Now let’s break it all down and look at each individual colour to understand what they mean.
Historically, this is the colour for men. Further research shows that the colour blue represents peace, tranquillity, calmness of water and trustworthiness. This colour is very popular with the more conservative brands, who have a strong intent on creating trust in their business and products.
This colour is commonly used to sell products or services that promote wellbeing or beauty. It represents loyalty, respect and wisdom, as well as a stimulant for creativity and spirituality.
Green represents nature and is mostly used to create a relaxed environment and feeling. When we consider this colour, we can associate it with power, tranquillity and health. It psychologically promotes harmony and leads to balance and clarity.
Orange and Yellow
We see bright, cheerful and enthusiasm in these colours. It has been proven that orange is used as a colour for caution, which triggers the consumer into buying just in case they miss out. It creates a feeling of anxiety and impulse in buyers, even those who may simply have been window shopping online.
This is the colour used when businesses need to alert consumers of a sale, which creates a sense of urgency. It promotes an appetite to eat, which is why most fast food businesses use the colour red in their branding. This colour is widely known for igniting passion (think Valentine’s Day), as well as the quickening of the heart, excitement and physical movement.
Pink also relates to red, but tones down the physical aspect of it and brings out a gentler energy.
This promotes maturity and solidarity, but can also come across as void, depressive and a feeling of emptiness.
Black comes with a sense of power, strength and authority, which is why you can find it in most government based organisations. It is a colour of intelligence and authority, but can also come across as overwhelming if used too much.
Purity, safety and cleanliness comes in play, when we look at the colour white. White space can be seen as a place to be create, similar to a blank canvas, but can also come across as cold and the absence of colour.
Understanding how these colours may affect the mind of your target audience, may come in very handy, but be vigilant to use them with balance. It is good practice to use a contrast of colours, which may encourage potential customers to focus more on the product you are trying to promote. For instance, should you choose to use bright colours, you should expect your target audience to become quite energetic. Whereas, if you are promoting a website that is geared towards lots of reading, it may be a good idea to use darker tones, so they want to stick around and read more. The brightness may be difficult to read, so diming this will have a better response.
Let’s look at how big brands are using the psychology of colour in their branding:
Starbucks, one of the most popular chains across the globe.
Straight away you can pinpoint the use of the colour green in their branding. Then the addition of a mermaid, which also promotes nature. As discussed above green encourages relaxation, so instinctively invites customers to come in and take break – have a cup of coffee and take the load off.
Another massive brand is McDonalds.
This is a great example of branding because it combines both red and yellow across the board; yellow being one of the most appealing colour to children. We have considered red and understand that it promotes the need to eat as well as a feeling of urgency. To couple this with yellow creates a feeling of happiness and enthusiasm. It doesn’t have a stay and relax feeling, instead it’s about fast sales and urgency to leave, which then creates a faster turnaround time. The mascot is also presented with the same colours, which is very exciting for young children.
The way we use colour in our marketing and branding can be very specific, with the intent to stimulate certain reactions. Although the meaning of each colour may vary depending on the country or culture, most brands will take this into account and utilise the right colour to pull in the audience they have decided to target. Just look at some of the big brands out there, their branding has been tried and tested to a science, so it is geared towards creating the response they need.
Now when you look at your own branding, what do you want it to say and who do you want to attract? Take some time to think about the psychology of colour and how your target audience may respond to it. Please also bear in mind that the colour you choose needs to match the product. If you are selling a holistic product, choosing yellow or even grey, would not match very well, so your choice may be green instead; to promote relaxation and nature.