Wonder how brands color code their marketing campaigns and form brand identity? This article explains everything about the psychology of color and its use in marketing.
From a captivating sunrise to an alluring advertisement running on our gadgets, our lives are painted in a stream of various natural and artificial colors. Little do we know that these colors have a stupendous potential to affect our mood and drive our emotions.
Colors have powers; they have the ability to activate emotional parts of our brains and make us do things that we might not do in their absence. Colors have a crucial role to play in marketing and advertising; they play a critical role in gearing an emotional attachment to a brand. Colors are the drivers of action too. They are the most powerful tool in the world of marketing.
There is no end to the benefits of colors when it comes to branding and advertising. The vital thing to do is to know the psychology of colors, how they mold behavior and if there are universal or objective responses to be expected. In short, it is crucial to know color psychology in detail before applying it in the creation of brand identity. There are many considerations to watch out for as well; colors do not act exclusively or objectively.
Below is a detailed discussion on the psychology of color, its application, meanings of colors, and some essential tips regarding the color branding of businesses.
What is color psychology?
Color psychology is an area of study within the color theory, which discusses the relationship of color and human behavior, moods, and emotions. Some effects of colors on human behavior are of universal nature as specific colors have certain triggers in the human brain. However, there are cultural and personal connotations to the theory as well. One thing that remains unchanged along the spectrum is that color affects human behavior one way or the other.
Psychological effects of color
Personal preferences and cultural or subcultural inclinations and emotions aside, colors have some universal effects on our behavior. Their effects are the same no matter which part of the world a person resides in. The particular way a specific color affects the brain, emotions, feelings, and perception is used to evoke customer responses in marketing and branding.
How color impacts our lives
The fact that colors influence our behaviors shows that colors have a significant role in our lives. They are strong behavior modifiers. And there is a sure way in which they will influence behavior.
Here is how we perceive some colors and their effect on our brains.
Red is universally associated with emergency, passion, danger, and urgency. This is true across almost all cultures. Have you ever noticed how traffic signals about dangerous situations are painted red? Or consider ambulance services: Ambulance is always written in red to activate our brains and make us respond on an emergency basis. Another example is extinguishers in commercial buildings, which are always painted red. Wonder why? So that they catch your attention instantly and you do not miss them in times of emergency.
The color red is chosen for such situations with solid scientific proof. According to research, color red activates most of the color vision cells in our brains, and our response to color red is rapid as our brain gears up and sends instant response orders.
Colors and taste
Did you ever notice how specific colors in foods impact your response strongly? Perhaps you have not because the response is so innate to us that we hardly notice the relationship. However, colors, and our perception of colors, have a solid connection with the food choices we make.
The color orange is related to appetite and hunger; if you paid attention, you would realize food companies and restaurants frequently use this color in packaging. Blue, dark or bright has very little to do with food. It will only spark disgust if we see blue food. One reason is that there are no natural foods in blue; therefore, our brain does not accept blue for food.
Colors and clothes
The colors we wear create a sort of quick definition of our personalities. In addition, some colors have a particular meaning in some cultures. For example, black gives a very authoritative and robust feeling. No wonder university robes are usually black; lawyers wear them black too. Black is a color of sorrow in many cultures.
Color and temperature
No doubt, some colors affect our perception of temperature. A color painted red will have a warm feeling during winters, but you would not want to enter it during summers because it will increase the sense of scorching heat outside. On the other hand, blue reminds of cold, ice, and coolness. A room painted sky blue or powder blue will be calming and cooling during summers because of the perception attached to these colors.
Colors and decisions
Colors activate particular emotions and feelings, and they are crucial in decisions, especially product decisions we make. Marketing and brand strategies focus on the colors that resound with their targeted audience and what kind of response those colors will have.
What is marketing
Psychology of colors in marketing
Research says 97% of buyers focus on the product’s visual appearance when purchasing something. Seeing is believing; we all know that, but did you know that color is the sole decisive factor in the “seeing” scenario?
You might have thought it’s the quality that attracts you or the style, the efficacy or how badly you need it, etc., whatever you believe to be just how your brain justifies it: most of the time, it’s the brain-provoked response to color that lures you into buying things.
Different colors have different meanings and connotations for marketers, who read colors in the light of perceptions and responses they bring forth. Companies use colors cleverly and read the underlying psychology of colors while creating logos, banners, advertisements, and marketing campaigns. They psychologically condition people to make impulsive decisions by using the right colors in the right combinations.
Below is an explanation of color psychology and how marketing specialists use it:
Color red comes with solid connotations of warmth, passion, fearlessness, strength, excitement, romance, and urgency. It is associated with hunger as well. Many famous fast food brands use red to attract people and subtly force them to decide in their favor. The color itself creates the urge for food, and it points to hunger automatically.
Just consider McDonalds; they use colors cleverly in the marketing of their brand. They use red and yellow abundantly. Red is for urgency and hunger, whereas yellow is the color of happiness. Now they make an impression that McDonald’s food is somehow related with not just hunger and food passion, but it is about happiness too. And of course, words are used with care too. Consider yellow again and the famous “happy meal”! Makes sense? Yes, marketing is all about manipulating mental triggers for brand sales.
It’s important to know that all colors have negative and positive impressions. While using colors in marketing, consider the negative feelings that colors can inspire.
Red is not just for romance; it is a color of danger, emergency, defiance, aggression, and pain. You might as well consider how Ambulances have red writing. Emergency wards are either red or blue. Fitness equipment brands frequently use black or red to allude to strength, fearlessness, excitement, and passion.
Orange comes with its own connotations. Color orange speaks of courage, confidence, warmth, friendliness, innovation, and energy. In brand color psychology, these are the feelings orange color evokes in people.
Some negative feelings are attached to the color orange, like deprivation, frivolity, frustration, and even sluggishness. So you have to be very careful and specific when using this color, or any color for that matter. Correct use of color will elicit the desired response.
Happiness, warmth, creativity, fun, and optimism are the feelings attached to yellow. No wonder McDonalds’ prominent color is yellow along with red. Together these two make you happy, optimistic, passionate, and hungry- target well achieved!
On the other side of the emotional spectrum, yellow can mean anxiety, depression, frustration, and fear. The mixture of color and the brand’s definition will determine how people perceive the color and associate with your brand.
Green is associated with power, nature, calmness, and tranquility. It’s common to see superstores with green themes. They would want their customers to feel calm and comfortable because if they are not satisfied, they would not like to be there. The more they like being there, the better the sales! Marketing strategies are created keeping in mind the specific needs and inclinations of the targeted audience and their particular triggers.
One great example is that of Starbucks. They have white and green colors pronounced in their logos and campaigns. They want their customers to relate with the calmness of Starbucks; they want to induce a feeling of peace and calm in those who use their place and consume their products. They are rocking color theory because they have very loyal customers.
Boredom, blandness, and sickness are also green, so beware of these negative sentiments attached with green.
This is a splendid color for all those brands trying to inspire feelings of calmness, inspiration, clarity, expression, and communication. This is just the right fit
On the downside, you may want to watch out if the color is being read as more of an unreliable or secretive feeling. It is important to note that colors will speak together with content: what your content says sets the tone for sentiments that colors will bring to the surface.
You might have known that purple symbolizes royalty, but did you know that it also connects with luxury, power, and wisdom. Why do you think Hallmark uses purple? It’s because it signifies problem-solving qualities and wisdom. All colors in brand logos and marketing campaigns have a precise and particular purpose. One wrong decision in terms of color can be drastic, and marketers are well aware of this fact. They can lose way too many customers than they can afford to, so they are usually meticulous and thorough in their choice of colors.
Yahoo and craigslist are also purple brands.
Blue is the color of men, and things that we culturally associate with men, are marketed with blue hues. Think of cars, aftershaves. Men’s shampoos, anything related to men, will usually come in blue. Blue also points to life, reliability, peace, water, trust, serenity, and security. Think of Honda, and you will know how the blue color inspires confidence and reliability!
Blue is the color of coldness, emotional aloofness, and it’s unappetizing. Brands need to stay clear of these connotations.
Think of black and think of Nike, channel! Two massive, global brands that use black as their identity color. Black translates in power, authority, strength, elegance, and substance. No wonder Apple Inc. has chosen to go black, white or silver to indicate quality, neutrality, and timelessness in its elegance and design.
It is also a color of menace, coldness, evil, and mourning! Every color has negativities associated with it, but brands know that. While creating a brand identity, the negative feelings attached to a color are always considered.
Gray speaks neutrality, reliability, balance, and timelessness. Nissan has chosen the perfect blend of black and gray to give rise to feelings of elegance, trust, clarity, timelessness, and trust in their customers.
On the other hand, gray signifies dampness, hibernation, and depression. It is imperative to know the negative impacts of colors so you know what must be avoided while color-coding your brand.
The white color comes with a message of clarity, cleanliness, purity, simplicity, and sophistication. It is the most frequently chosen background for brands logos etc.
This is how marketing teams worldwide try to match brand colors and brand objectives to target their audience with a coherent ideology.
Psychology of colors in branding
You want to make your potential customers feel deeply linked with you as a brand. Colors come in very handy in eliciting an emotional response. As a brand, your concern is more about what your customers feel about you instead of what they think about you!
In the long run, your aim is to create a brand identity that speaks heart to heart with your potential customers. For this purpose, you need the emotional parts of people’s brains to take charge and lure them into making impulsive, emotional decisions every time they visit your store.
Well, how to do that! How do you earn the blind “interest” of your customer?
It is here that brands use color theory.
Colors are used to modify customers’ behavior towards brands. They have a strong emotional appeal, and when they are used in the right way, keeping in view their psychological impact, you can surely leave a strong and lasting impression on the customers.
Brands carefully select colors that possess the suitable characteristics to emotionally captivate and manipulate customers into taking the desired action. This may sound negative to a layman, but businesses work on these ethics.
Why is color psychology critical in branding?
`brands use colors to elicit a particular, desired action from their customers. Sure, there are words, but do words have global appeal? No! Differences in language will come in the way. Colors, in the basic sense, will have a global appeal. They will have the same psychological impact no matter which part of the world a person lives in.
There are very specific reasons why brands choose colors to convey their brand objectives.
- Colors convey a message very precisely. There is no confusion involved. No need to add even a single word; sometimes, only colors carry the brand identity
- Colors are much more efficient in triggering an emotional response in the target market than words. This is also a reason colors are used extensively for brand identity creation
- It is so easy to create a consistent brand message with colors. Brands use colors to sync their logos, designs, products, ads, stores, etc. This kind of broad-based consistency is not possible with words or any other medium of communication.
- The psychological impact tend to be more stable in Colors than words
- Colors are visually appealing
Tips for picking the right colors for your brand
Knowing the impact of colors and their emotional appeal, you would want to know how to pick the right colors for your brand’s logo, ads, stores, products, etc.
There are some general inferences about colors and how they affect the human brain, but there is always an element of subjectivity when you choose your brand colors. Knowing the psychological connotation of various colors helps in this concern.
However, going through a chart of colors is not all you need when making a crucial decision to choose your brand color. We list some tips below to help you choose the most suitable color combinations. It is imperative that you pay utmost attention while strategizing brand color psychology: it’s not just about picking and mixing colors. Remember you are using colors to form a rapport with your customers and to drive sales. One wrong decision can be the last nail in the coffin!
Choose an authentic color for your brand
It’s crucial to choose a color that looks like it belongs to your industry and product. Many choices will suit your brand, and you will have to make some close decisions here, but if your color is too odd, it will be a huge turn-off for your customers.
For example, do not make blue-colored foods because your customers will read them as unnatural and even disgusting.
Choose a color that depicts your brand personality
How would you describe your brand if it were a human?
This is precisely what your brand personality is. Since brands have to interact with humans, brand identity must be described at a more human level. Color is the most effective tool at hand when carving brand personality. Use it well: try and bring in more feelings and emotions so people can have “feelings” about your brand.
Choose a color that has appeal for the target
Choosing the right color also means choosing a color that will appeal to certain emotions and quickly form a rapport with the customers.
If you are an advertising agency or a software company, using black will not be a wise decision. Why? Because black is gloomy, it points to menace, devastation, disaster, and distress in some contexts.
Would you not want people to feel creative and optimistic when they look at your brand logo? If yes! Then black is a turn-off! Totally unsuitable for your company!
Highlight a difference with your brand color
It is not necessary to deviate from your competitors’ colors, but if you can do it creatively and still hook people onto your brand, then go ahead. Survey your competitors and create a plan for brand color. A brand can effectively gain a reputation if it personifies a marked change from its competitors.
Color and CTAs
As a business, what is the most important thing for you? It is conversion/sales, without a doubt! True, you want traffic, also true that you want impressions. Visits and views are essential, but what is the objective? The objective is to make money: online visits and views should convert into sales and fill your wallet with MONEY!
Businesses worldwide are looking for intelligent ways to urge people to take action when visiting their websites. There are plenty of options in marketing and advertising niches, but one thing that matters a lot is the CTA button. Its strategic placement and color are very important for visitor retention and sales conversions.
We have already discussed how colors have a vast potential to give rise to feelings and drive customers’ emotions. Colors of brands logos, products, websites, stores can elicit emotional, impulsive responses from people in favor of the brands. In the same way, they can subtly urge people to take the desired action. If you know the color psychology, a suitable color for your CTA (Call To Action) button will be a game-changer and will up your sales game big time!
Three best colors for CTA buttons
Red is the most attention-grabbing color of all. It is the color that alludes to passion and urgency. Most websites use red to call people to the desired action. Whether you want people to purchase something, download something or register to a website, red is the ideal shade.
In addition to all the psychological connotations, red stands out among black and white, so it is frequently chosen for CTA buttons. It captures attention right away, and that is exactly what businesses want!
Green is the color of peace, calmness, and nature. It is also the color of green light that urges you to move! Motivation is undeniable in the color green, which is why many businesses choose green for their CTA. It is not only attention-grabbing, but it’s calming as well, which encourages people to take action as they perceive it to be the most natural course of things!
Yellow is a big favorite too. If you doubt that, go to Amazon. This virtual mega mall is pasted with yellow all over. Orange and yellow are used quite a lot for CTA buttons because they point to warmth, happiness, and confidence. They have a very soothing and natural feeling, which helps people with decision-making. People feel easy and relaxed with yellow, which works wonders for sales conversion.
Three worst colors for CTA buttons
Black is the first on the list of worst colors for CTAs. Black is the color of elegance, power, authority. It is an excellent choice of color for brand identity in some products and services, but the worst color for a call to action; why? Because it is also a color of menace, darkness, and gloom and those sides of this color are more likely to activate when used in a CTA button.
A big no for a black CTA button
White has great qualities, but it is not the color for action. It will merge into the background in most websites, and your call to action will be as good as dead! Do you want that for your website? Obviously no! It’s a terrible choice for CTA, so no white in the action buttons.
Brown is a dull shade for CTA buttons. It does not excite, nor does it make the viewer calm. There is nothing interesting about it. So one of the worst colors for calling your customers to take action.
Colors have a significant role to play in our lives. They have deep-rooted emotional connotations, and they are powerful drivers of emotions and behaviors. Their characteristic to gear and drive emotions is widely used in marketing and branding. Businesses color code their logos, products, websites, stores, and slogans to evoke a feeling of belonging in their customers. Colors are also a crucial tool for calling people to action. Specific colors make people take the desired action on a website. In short, colors and marketing are inseparable, and that is all because of the underlying psychology of color.