How to Use Colour Psychology in Your Marketing

The colours you choose in your branding and marketing has a profound effect on how it influences your customers. Colours help to create associations in the minds of the people who see your products or logo; they evoke certain emotions that can affect whether someone is likely to trust your brand. It’s an important feature to understand so you can best use it to create the associations you want to craft in the minds of your customers.

How to Use Colour Psychology in Your Marketing

Here’s a look at colour psychology in more detail, and how you could use it to your advantage in your marketing strategy.

What is Colour Psychology?

Colour psychology refers to the research done into how colour influences people’s behaviours and decision-making. In marketing, colours can impact buyer decisions and the way they perceive a brand in incredibly subtle ways.

According to a study, colour increases brand recognition up to 80%. Studies have also shown that 92.6% of consumers put the most importance on visual factors when they purchase products, and 84.7% think that colour accounts for more than half the factors that are important for choosing products.

Colours have great importance when it comes to consumer perceptions, making it a vital consideration when doing any marketing or re-branding. Of course, people’s own preferences for particular colours can also foster brand loyalty, so it is not an exact science.

But the wrong colour choice can negatively impact a brand if people feel the chosen colour misrepresents the company’s purpose. It could damage a brand’s sense of identity. So, how do you pick the right colours for your marketing purposes?

Colours and Their Emotions

Colours evoke powerful emotions. These emotions can be used to create associations that are relevant to a particular business or service. There’s a reason pharmacies have green logos, as green has been shown to evoke a healthy, healing feeling. Colours have both positive and negative emotions associated with them, so they must be used carefully. Here are the kinds of emotions conveyed by colours:

  • Blue – tranquillity, peace, trust, masculinity, coldness
  • Green – freshness, environment, fertility, healing, earth, jealousy
  • Yellow – bright, sunny, warmth, happiness, joy
  • Purple – royalty, nobility, luxury, mystery
  • Pink – happiness, femininity, compassion, playfulness, immaturity
  • Red – love, passion, energy, power, heat, danger, anger
  • Orange – courage, confidence, friendliness
  • Brown – earth, outdoors, conservative
  • Gold – wealth, prosperity, valuable, traditional
  • Silver – high-tech, sleek, graceful, dull
  • White – innocence, purity, fresh, clean, pristine, emptiness
  • Grey – security, reliability, solid, gloomy, conservative
  • Black – elegance, dramatic, classy, formal, evil

You can probably already imagine a number of prominent brands, their colour choices and the kinds of emotions they want to conjure in their audiences. Of course, general audiences are not usually the target audience for a lot of businesses. In order to use colours to your full advantage, you need to be targeting the right group, because not everyone will have the same colour preferences and associations.

Colours and Emotions

Gender Preferences

Research shows that there is quite a difference between the colours that men and women prefer. And if your target audience has a significant gender disparity, you could do well to pick colours that are preferable to your target audience.

Studies have shown that both men and women like blue, but it is heavily favoured by men. Both sexes typically don’t like brown, yellow or orange. Women prefer tints whereas men prefer pure or shaded colours – this could be to do with the fact that women see more colours than men, as they are more aware of slight colour differences within a colour range. Both sexes prefer cool colours to warm colours.

These are by no means hard and fast rules, but it’s worth bearing in mind the colour preferences between men and women. Pink, of course, is often used to promote products to women. But be careful of patronising your audience, who can forget the infamous BIC pink biro fiasco of 2012?

Brand Case Studies

Let’s take a look at some well-known brands and how they use colours in their marketing to make certain impressions:

  • McDonald’s

McDonald’s has possibly the most famous logo in the world, with its yellow arches and red background. It is claimed that red is the most appetising colour in the spectrum (think of all the other food brands that use red in their branding), because of its ability to increase people’s heartrates, thus kickstarting digestion. The yellow is synonymous with happiness and energy, which highlights the fast-food nature of the brand and the “I’m lovin’ it” tagline.

McDonald's Sign

But if you were to go to a McDonald’s in the UK today, you’d see that the red backdrop no longer exists and that many of the restaurants now use an earthy green. This was due to McDonald’s 2009 brand rehaul that aimed to “promote a more eco-friendly image”. Environmental consciousness has seeped into their advertising too, with the promotion of their natural and ethically sourced ingredients.

New McDonald's Branding

  • Starbucks

The green logo of Starbucks coffee promotes a calming and relaxing feel. It is a welcoming colour that invites you to come inside, take a seat and enjoy a delicious beverage. And the green is also possibly a way of trying to convince their customers that their white chocolate mocha frappuccino is much better for them than it actually is.

  • Apple

Tech giant Apple went through quite the colour change. Their 1977 logo used bright colours and was later replaced with grey. This was the right shift towards creating the associations that we have for Apple today, as a sleek, modern company that provides the latest technology. The multi-coloured stripes of the 70s just doesn’t create that kind of association, does it?

The neutral and emotionless grey is perfect for a sophisticated technology company. It reflects the materials of the products they make and it’s also not divisive, not tailored one way towards men or women.

Many Brands

Colours and colour combinations are a powerful tool for branding and marketing. If you’re setting out to re-brand or create your brand, make sure you do your research and test your chosen colours and your target market to see how they respond and the associations that your chosen colours evoke. And if you need any promotional gifts for your business, at EMC we have an extensive range of products available in a wide range of colours, perfect for boosting your brand. Contact us today for more information.

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