It’s hard to imagine a world stripped of colors. Colors bring life to everything. They affect the way we perceive people, environments, and objects. They can induce emotions and send subtle but powerful messages that dictate how something, or someone, should be looked at. With such a strong influence on how people feel about things, it’s obvious why brands should pay close attention to how they use colors in their marketing and branding. Colors play a huge role in visual experiences and can carve permanent images in people’s memories. Deliberate use of color is a powerful way to reach marketing goals. But what are good marketing colors? The answer to this question might not be that easy.
The color intuition
Scientific research has confirmed that colors impact our judgment on a subconscious level. In fact, many of them physically alter our bodies. For instance, the color red can increase your blood pressure. The effect of some colors on our behavior is so deeply rooted in our brains that it goes back to when we were primitive humans. As we observed the world around us, we associated colors with different feelings, emotions, and signs to help us live better and safer.
Modern human beings have inherited those feelings, in addition to many other cultural upbringings and social clichés that impact the messages that colors convey. Nowadays, colors may correlate to specific genders, meanings, and notions that might not have been so a century ago. We cannot overestimate the importance of color. Research by CCI has revealed that in just 90 seconds after the initial viewing, people subconsciously make a judgment of what they see.
Between 62% to 90% of this judgment is based on color alone. As the renowned psychiatrist Carl Jung says, “Color is the mother tongue of the subconscious”.
A colorful dilemma
Color can help companies define their image better than any other textual or visual element. It’s a strong thread that ties different brand assets together and establishes harmony between branding, marketing, and packaging.
Choosing the right color combination is a delicate matter. Colors have meanings, but these meanings are not absolute. As something so impactful and influential, colors play a huge role in our personal experiences. They may remind us of good (or bad) childhood memories, life-changing events, or our loved (and hated) ones.
In other words, there could be a different color preference for each of the eight billion people that live on earth. So how could brands appeal to their audience with the “correct” choice of colors when everyone interprets them differently?
The short answer is “there’s no definite way”. There are no clear-cut rules for choosing colors because people’s perception of them relies heavily on personal and cultural factors.
So what’s the point then?
Don’t worry. It’s not all doom and gloom. Perception of colors is not universal, but that doesn’t mean it’s totally random. As we mentioned earlier, many colors have common meanings and affect almost everyone in the same way. That’s what color psychology tries to delve into; Into how hues can determine human behavior.
In the marketing area, color psychology studies how colors can define the impressions of brands and evoke customers to do desired actions like making a purchase or reading an article. While personal and cultural contexts matter, research has shown that common color associations do exist and affect most people’s perceptions.
Don’t fall into the trap of broad and definite statements about how colors represent specific feelings and attributes though. Context matters a lot. Remember that color psychology is NOT an exact science. You’ll find plenty of cases that contradict the “guidelines” for color choice, but still are successful.
You need to think about the core message of your brand thoroughly. What emotions do you want to evoke in your audience? What is your brand’s personality, and what is the most appropriate color to represent it?
Fifty shades of appropriateness
When thinking about picking a color (or a color combination) for marketing, whether people deem it appropriate for what you’re selling is much more important than the color itself.
Consider the brand Monster Energy for an example. The American energy drink company sports a grotesquely-designed “M” letter in green as its logo. Green is commonly associated with nature and calmness. But the company is famously active in sponsoring extreme and exotics sports. Their products also don’t necessarily resemble calmness. Yet the green color which exists throughout their branding assets fits perfectly.
The color you choose may align with a specific characteristic, but what’s more important is that it must support the personality of your brand and give you a unique and memorable look. Research done by the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) has shown that the human brain strongly reacts to powerful brands. In other words, your brain may have determined to purchase a product even before you take it into consideration. Color plays a big role in that.
Riding the color wheel
The association of certain colors with specific traits is something we cannot ignore. Whether it goes back to how our brains have evolved or pop culture’s influence, here in 2022, colors have specific meanings. Having sufficient knowledge of this matter will help you in picking combinations from the color wheel.
We have to stress again that while effective, these notions are not to be taken as gospel. What has worked for a specific brand in a certain case may not work for you. You need to experiment with different colors and use extensive testing to find the best palette for your branding. You can also read about Best Practices For Writing An Effective Ads.
We’re going to have a brief look at the associated traits of each individual color:
Commonly associated with arousal and a sense of passion and danger. Seeing the color red actually boosts your body’s metabolism and can increase your appetite. That’s why almost every big fast-food chain and restaurant uses this color in its logo and aesthetics (hello, McDonald’s). It also resembles speed; That’s why car manufacturers frequently use this color in their lines of fast supercars.
When thinking about green, the first thing that comes to mind is nature and vegetation. Watching green environments has a relaxing effect. It’s associated with freshness and being natural. Many companies that offer organic or eco-friendly products utilize this color in their branding. A good example is the Whole Foods supermarket chain which is famous for its selection of organic products.
Blue is widely popular between tech companies and banks because it symbolizes intelligence, trust, and security. It is the most popular color among consumers both male and female. It has a strong calming effect; Just think about clear skies and vast oceans, and you’ll understand why.
Yellow is mostly favored by children since it’s associated with sunshine and happiness. The perfect example would be the classic smiley face ideogram that every person on the planet has arguably seen at least once. Yellow shows optimism and friendliness, but could also mean caution. That’s why many road signs have yellow backgrounds.
Cheerfulness and enthusiasm are the main signals that the color orange sends. Orange is often interpreted as being cheap. While this could be considered a negative attribute, many supermarket chains use it to show the affordability of products.
White equals clean. It’s mainly considered modern and pure, and it’s a great way to add clarity and contrast. White is usually accompanied by another color since it lacks a definitive personality. Over usage or poor execution of white could result in boring and lazy looks.
One of the hardest colors to execute is black since it’s a real double-edged sword. Most people associate black with misery, evil, and death, but at the same time, this color strongly symbolizes sophistication and luxury. That’s why high-end and sleek products are mainly black. Also, black clothes can boost people’s confidence.
The color of royalty, magic, and creativity. Purple is pretty popular in the beauty industry and is mainly used in anti-aging products. As the result of mixing red and blue, purple has powerful attributes and represents power and authority.
Pink is arguably the most feminine color in the world. It resembles happiness and positivity. Because of its strong association with femininity and softness, it’s generally used to target female audiences.
Test, test, test. That’s all we’d like to say at the end of this article instead of urging you to paint your logo a certain color to evoke a certain feeling. Just because pink is considered a feminine color doesn’t mean it wouldn’t suit your ride-hailing company (ehem ehem, Lyft). Remember that the perceived appropriateness of the color matters a lot more than the color itself (and its associated meaning).
What colors are good for marketing?
It’s impossible to single out a color and label it “good for marketing”. Each and every person has a different perception of colors and even the attributed meanings of colors are inconclusive and sometimes even contradictory. You need to experiment with different color palettes and figure out which one best suits your brand’s identity. While color properties can help you come up with the right combination, it’s important to consider your brand and executability first.
How can colors affect conversions?
Colors do affect multiple aspects of a business but this doesn’t mean that certain colors would always achieve better results than others. The color(s) you choose must be consistent with your brand’s visual identity and provide a smooth, eye-pleasing experience for customers. Accent colors help make certain parts of your landing pages stand out and attract more attention, leading to more focused pages and ultimately, higher conversion rates.
What are the most popular colors for businesses?
It heavily depends on the industry. For example, many tech, financial, and law firms use the color blue in their branding since it’s commonly associated with trust and intelligence.
What should be considered when choosing a color for a website?
Color can significantly impact the overall user experience of your website. When choosing a color for your site or online shop, bear in mind that creating a smooth, consistent, and enjoyable experience for users is much more important than injecting your signature color wherever you can. Don’t overpopulate your website with too many different colors. Try to take advantage of accent colors to highlight certain places and keep everything as clean as possible.