The Psychology of Color in Marketing
When you’re designing a logo, marketing a new product, or advertising a new service, there are many factors to consider when you first begin to strategize. One of the most basic concerns you’ll probably begin with is, How will my target audience react to this? One of the easiest, most controversial, and most underutilized tools you can have in your marketing arsenal is knowledge of the Psychology of color. Although, often contested as a negligible asset, research shows that the colors you choose have a direct impact on your customers' first impressions, and also heavily impacts their immediate reaction to it. According to a study out of the University of Winnipeg, color is the primary reason 84.7% of consumers choose to buy a particular product. Each color has a primary association, and it’s important to consider whether or not you are representing your brand identity effectively with your color choices.
Although, our personal reactions to different colors are dependent on our tastes, living and work environments, and upbringing, there is extensive evidence in regards to the patterns between human reaction and color. While nothing is “one size fits all," researchers and scientists have spent decades uncovering the similarities and intricacies of human behavior in relation to color. Neuroscientist Bevil Conway has focused his recent research almost entirely on the neural machinery behind color, and he is a strong proponent for the science behind color processing, a sect which he believes to be very powerful and completely underexploited. Textbook manufacturer and supplier Pearson Prentice Hall reports that visual learners make up 65% of the total learning population, a statistic that impacts comprehension, immediate retention, and likelihood of remembering the new information at a later point. Additionally, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital believe that most people have a subconscious reaction to an environment, logo, or product within 90 seconds of seeing it, and that 62-90% of that judgement is based on color alone. When you combine all this information, it presents a riveting argument for color consideration.
From all of this research, many companies and graphic designers have come to rely on a “Color Emotion Guide,” like the one pictured below.
We know that each color has its own associations, but what exactly are they?
Red is an emotionally intense color and is generally associated with urgency or immediacy (Things like “Buy now!” or “This is a crucial decision!”). Hues in this family can also include pinks, and often communicate to your customer base that your product or service is reliable, trustworthy, and strong. Yellows and oranges in marketing represent positivity and are often successful in selling customers on the image of enthusiasm, purity, and energy. For obvious reasons, green is very often associated with nature, healing, and stability. Because of the roots it has in the environment and in health-based products and industries, many consumers tend to feel safe when faced with a green logo or product design. Blue and all associated hues, including teals and aquas, is oftentimes associated with power, reliability, tranquility, and calm. This color tends to evoke a feeling of relaxation in many people. Purple is the color of royalty, and in marketing that often translates to luxury, creativity, femininity, and ambition. Many companies that aim to target a higher financial market utilize purple as a way of communicating a product or service that is worth the investment.
But, it’s not just the colors of the rainbow that have been the focus of extensive research. Aside from primary colors, black and white can be utilized in marketing techniques as well. But, as psychologists, researchers, and neuroscientists alike have come to realize, the general population of consumers tend to react best when primary colors are involved or prioritized. Black as a prominent feature in a marketing campaign tends to have a negative connotation unless used sparingly. It has come to be associated with mystery or the unknown, two things that don’t often work to inspire confidence in your company or product. White does not have the same negative associations, as it can often represent cleanliness or a new beginning. But, research still indicates that when you want your ad to stand out from the pack, primary colors are your best bet.
Although, it is often argued that science can be limiting to creativity, it doesn’t have to be! By utilizing the Psychology of Color in your work, not only do you have unlimited free reign in your creative endeavors, but you have the power and knowledge of how to best influence your consumers and shape your brand identity.