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Science shows that humans are visual creatures. Some studies even indicate that we process visuals not twice as face as the written word, but a mind-blowing 60,000 times faster. For content marketers, it’s essential to understand at least the basics of color psychology and how they can use it to evoke emotion and achieve higher conversions.
As we explore the basics of color psychology in marketing, let’s not forget that even though it’s one of the more interesting aspects of advertising and promotion, it’s also one of the most controversial.
Why? Because many conversations covering color psychology in marketing are based on anecdotal evidence and personal perceptions.
None of the information below is meant to serve as a definitive guide to branding and marketing. However, science does show that color psychology plays a large role in moving your customers through the buyer’s journey.
What Is Color Psychology in Marketing?
Color psychology aims to study how colors impact human behavior and decision-making. Colors influence our perceptions, many of which are not obvious, such as when you’re tasting food.
Studies also show that colors can heighten the effectiveness of placebos. When giving study participants a placebo in place of a stimulant, researchers will often give them a red or orange pill because both of these colors are associated with stimulation.
All colors have three components: hue, value and chroma. This is why each color can look so different. Check out the image below to see just how different blue can look.
The hue refers to the overall color name. While many marketers focus only on hue, this is a mistake. Studies show that both value and chroma play a larger role in the way colors impact human emotion than hue.
The value of a color refers to its level of brightness.
Chroma is the color’s level of saturation.
When you go to adjust the value or chroma of a color in editing software, it’ll likely look like the following.
Science shows the majority of people have a preference for the color blue. Researchers have three theories as to why most people choose blue as their favorite color:
Although colors most certainly influence emotion and decision-making, the exact effects of each color tend to vary from person to person. Gender, age and culture play a significant role in the perception of color.
Why Study Color Psychology?
93% of a person’s purchasing decision is based on the product’s visual aspects.
Nearly 85% of the purchasing decision is based on the product’s color. Not only do colors play a crucial role in purchasing decisions, they also influence how consumers perceive your brand.
To achieve the highest impact, make the colors that you choose to represent your brand consistent across your logo, products, website, email communications, etc. Any marketing materials that you distribute should include your brand’s colors as well, including infographics, videos, whiteboard animations, and brochures.
When used correctly, colors can trigger certain emotions. You can leverage your knowledge of color psychology in marketing to instill trust and build customer loyalty by connecting with your audience on an emotional level.
A Close Look at the Rainbow
Before you run to the marketing table to create a new logo or marketing video, it’s pertinent to understand how colors impact emotions.
Red triggers powerful emotions and can be used to evoke passion and fearlessness along with anger and aggression. It’s known for its ability to instill urgency, which is why numerous marketers use it to get people to “Buy Now.”
Since orange closely resembles the color of the sun, it is known for evoking emotions like friendliness, courage and innovation. When used incorrectly, it can also bring about a feeling of immaturity and ignorance. The majority of people also associate the color orange with something that is “cheap,” so it’s very important to use this color correctly, unless, of course, your goal is to highlight your product as the cheapest.
Yellow inspires creativity, happiness, intellect and optimism. It can also evoke emotions of fear, cowardice and irrationality. When using yellow, it’s very important to be careful with its hue and value, as some shades can look dirty while other tints of yellow can be difficult on the eyes.
Green is, of course, associated with growth and money, so it naturally evokes emotions related to prosperity. It’s also strongly related to nature, so it’s often used to promote health and freshness. Be careful with green as it can also stimulate emotions of blandness, envy and boredom.
Blue is the color that you’ll use to build trust, dependability and security. It also helps show logic, but when used incorrectly, it can give off vibes of coldness and unfriendliness.
If you want to position your brand as one that is prestigious, then purple is the color you want to highlight throughout your branding. It’s associated with excess and extravagance along with royalty. Again, be careful with this color as it can evoke moodiness and suppression.
Pink, commonly referred to as magenta, is most commonly used to portray femininity. It also helps brands have a youthful appearance and is often used to inspire hope and comfort, which makes it a great choice for marketing to Generation Z and millennials. When used incorrectly, pink can instill feelings of rebelliousness and impulsiveness, however, these emotions are often what brands desire to trigger within their audience.
Color Psychology in Marketing: The Importance of Context
Colors guide our eyes by showing us where to look, instill a sense of what we should do, and help us interpret the message being shared. Ultimately, it puts the content into context.
It’s incredibly important to understand context in color psychology. Numerous academic studies show it’s more important to ensure the colors you use within your branding support your personality rather than using them in hopes that you are evoking stereotypical color associations.
For example: You can’t always say that green means “calm.” Some brands use the color green when seeking support for environmental issues. Other brands use it to promote themselves as technological leaders.
Another example can be seen with the color brown. Brown is great for achieving a rugged appeal. A company that uses brown effectively is Saddleback Leather. Yet it’s also used by many in the food industry around Thanksgiving time to stir the audience’s appetite (think of all those chocolate commercials you see around the holidays).
The point is, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to colors and branding. You must consider the context of your brand, including your mission and objectives, when leveraging color psychology in marketing.
Most importantly, you must lean on much more than color psychology in marketing to connect with your customers. Colors are great for connecting and inspiring certain emotions, but they can’t respond to comments on social media and they can’t provide superior, first-class customer service.
Visual marketing is a core component to achieving higher conversions, but color psychology doesn’t have any definitive laws or rules. You’ll always need human intelligence to guide your creative process when creating visual marketing assets, including those consisting of color psychology, to truly connect with your audience in a way that moves them through the buyer’s journey.