The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” is a mantra that has long been sited in marketing departments. So too, has the infamous Shakespearean prose, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The commonality in these two phrases lies in the imagery and the colors that they evoke in the mind’s eye. In fact, it is this very use of color psychology to evoke emotion that makes it so powerful to marketing, brand recognition, and creating a powerful impression.
What Are The Psychological Effects Of Color?
According to Leslie Harrington, Executive Director of The Color Association, “The first point of interaction is shaped by the color, and color is the most memorable sense.” This statement highlights the influence that color has on our interactions in every day life. Research has long shown that color is arguably the first sensory touch point that a customer has with a business. In fact, case studies show that consumer purchases can be influenced up to 80 percent by the product’s colors.
Choosing a company’s brand color is more than an arbitrary artistic decision. It is a strategic choice that will set the tone for how customers interact with the product. Take, for example, Coca-Cola’s red can vs. Pepsi’s blue can. The red color is bold; it strikes an energetic chord with viewers, which is part of the reason that so many Coca-Cola commercials feature fun, energized activities. On the other hand, Pepsi’s blue is both sincere and calm, which once again translates to the direction that the company’s ad campaigns tend to take.
Do Colors Have Certain Meanings Or Evoke Emotions?
Every color holds meaning and can generate a certain emotional response. Perhaps, Georgia O’Keeffe said it best:I found that I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way... Click To Tweet
Color is a media that connects us and brings life to our messages. Without colors, brands must rely on their ability to communicate via words, which, while powerful, rely on establishing a relationship with the viewer before they can create an emotional response. On the other hand, colors are an unspoken, universal language that transcend boundaries. Studies show that colors evoke certain emotions due to their unspoken meanings.
- Red is synonymous with passion, aggression, danger, and stimulus. It is a common color for restaurants, food product logos, and dynamic companies.
- Orange is synonymous with innovation, modernity, youth, and affordability. It is often used by companies who are interested in appealing to the millennial mindset, while simultaneously remaining approachable to all generations.
- Yellow is a color that can be tricky to market correctly. Generally speaking, the color has a negative connotation that is often equated with warning sighs or cowardice; however, it can also be used to invoke sunny or warm feelings.
- Green is synonymous with nature and ethical foundations. It is commonly used by organic, natural, or vegetarian food brands that want to be associated with a fresh, local, or environmentally friendly vibe.
Blue is a widely used color that is synonymous with sincerity, calm, integrity, and professionalism. Many financial institutions and government bodies (or affiliates) choose to use blue throughout their marketing efforts.
- Purple is often equated to royalty or luxury. It is typically used as the color for wealth, riches, or the church.
- Black is a complex color that can simultaneously be associated with power and sophistication, as well as death or villainy. It is a bold color that has dips and rises in popularity for company logos.
- White is often associated with cleanliness, simplicity, and purity. Due to its ability to generate a positive emotional response, many companies incorporate white into their logo design (as was seen earlier with our Coca-Cola example).
It is important to note that the above associations are not set rules, but general guidelines that can help you to better understand the emotional responses that emotions can trigger within a viewer. In this vein, the psychology of color in marketing is much more complex than simply choosing a palette that is associated with certain emotions.
Color Psychology In Marketing: Choosing The Right Color(s) For Your Brand
Choosing a color because you want your product or brand to reflect a certain idea only works if the connection is authentic. In other words, consumers will immediately know if your color and brand fit together like peanut butter and jelly. If, however, the color is not reflective of your brand’s true values, messages, or beliefs, then consumers will be turned-off. It doesn’t matter if your color is “trendy,” if your consumers don’t see the connection.
A popular example that highlights the above point is the Volkswagen Beetle. Upon launching the new Beetle, Volkswagen chose to create billboards that pictured a neon green paint job. The car color was one that, at the time, few people had previously seen. The beauty of the quirky color choice was simple: Volkswagen was trying to communicate a new message. The car company wanted people to see that their new Beetle represented a rebirth, renewal, and the subsequent reinvention of an old icon. The quirky neon green was a color that resonated with these ideas, connected with the brand’s vision, and subsequently created a positive emotional response from the customer.
The Bottom Line: Color Psychology Must Be Carefully Considered When Choosing Company Colors
The beauty of color psychology is that it can help your company create authentic connections with your customers. Just as Apple strategically selected a color scheme of white and light grays that create an elegant, luxurious, and modern feel to their products, so too must you think about the emotional response that you want your customers to associate with your brand. By choosing the right colors, you can help your company create the emotional response that is needed to be memorable, while simultaneously encouraging brand loyalty.