Much of what we do is influenced by visualizing colours. From early childhood, colours play a critical role in our cognitive development and how we learn and interpret things as adults. Toys are made with bright and engaging colours, and books are illustrated with colourfully detailed pictures. As adults, we are influenced by colour in ways we likely don’t even realize. In fact, there’s an entire psychology behind colours and how we associate and process them. So, what does this mean for marketers and branding teams? How important is colour psychology when it comes to brands, advertisements, and marketing campaigns. Let’s take a closer look:
What exactly is colour psychology?
Colour psychology is a section of market research that uncovers how colours influence our decisions and behaviours. From a marketing perspective, using different colours is an excellent way to impact consumer buying behaviour and the way your audience perceives your brand. Think about the logos for some of the most popular global brands. The bright yellow arches of McDonald’s or the bubbly pink associated with Barbie. Believe it or not, there’s a reason why these colours we’re chosen for their famous logos!
Emotional Colour Breakdown
While of course, the emotional reactions to colour will vary depending on the person, in the world of branding, there is a general perception of colour that marketers pay attention to:
Red is used in some of the most iconic brand logos in the world. Brands like Coca-Cola and Netflix use a bold shade of red that’s become a staple in homes everywhere. It’s important to remember that red is known for reflecting both positive and negative emotions (like love or anger), so you want to make sure you’re using it correctly. From a branding standpoint, when appropriately used, red is a powerful colour that encourages buying emotions like hunger, excitement, and urgency.
Orange is a fun, warm colour, often associated with feelings of energy, confidence, and warmth. Depending on the shade or tint (even different colour shades, tints, and tones promote emotions), lighter shades of orange can be used as a bright colour for many non-corporate brands, like Nickelodeon. While other shades of orange can be associated with more professional brands like Hermes or Timberland.
Bright and sunny yellow is an excellent colour for brands looking to represent happiness, optimism, and creativity. One of the most iconic global brands ton use yellow is McDonald’s. When yellow is paired alongside a dominant darker colour like black, it creates a bright and powerful statement.
Green is a relaxing, cooler colour that associates with health, freshness, and nature. You’ll see companies like Starbucks, Wholefoods, and Tic Tac use green to represent freshness and sustainability.
The colour blue is on the cooler side of the colour wheel, and it commonly represents calmness, serenity, and dependability. Trusted and reliable companies like Facebook and Ford use two different, but strong shades of blue for their logos. Blue is also a commonly preferred colour among both males and females.
Purple is historically known for representing royalty and wealth. It’s widely used by dignified brands that hold prestigious positions within their market, like Thai Airways and Cadbury. Purple holds similar powerful energy to red while having the calmness and reliability of blue.
Pink most commonly represents femininity, but it’s also associated closely with passion and creativity. It’s an excellent colour for quirky, youthful brands, and is also used as a sign of hope and romance. A few major brands that utilize pink in their advertising initiatives are Victoria’s Secret and Barbie.
Black is another powerful but luxurious option colour spectrum. It’s simplistic and is commonly associated with sophistication and elegance. Black is a colour that’s widely used in some industries, but not others; since, in some instances, it can represent feelings of mourning or sadness. In the fashion and beauty industry, black is a common colour used amongst marketers and branding teams.
White is a great representation of “new” and is often associated with cleanliness and peace. When appropriately used, white creates a modern, simplistic look. Tesla is known for using white in its logo to create a modern look that complements its innovative vehicles.
The use of colours in marketing and branding doesn’t end with consumer emotions. Colour psychology and further scientific findings extend into areas like the different cultural interpretations of colour, how words are associated with colours, and how colour is interpreted based on gender.