Updated: Nov 10
Author: Barbara Barilová
Date of Publication: 29/10/2022
Did you know that colors could have a big influence on our purchasing decisions? Yes, crazy right! What’s even more interesting is that colors are sometimes tailored to the type of audience that marketing companies are targeting. In other words, companies are often playing with colors to get our attention to buy their products. The field of research investigating how colors influence our choices is known as the psychology of colors. If you have never heard of this before, don’t worry, you are not alone.
The following article will help you understand the psychology of colors by explaining how different colors play a role in our decision-making, especially during purchases. It will describe the meaning behind each color, how it is used by marketing companies and in advertisements, and it will end with a summary on color perceptions and how they can differ between people.
The role of psychology in colors
Colors have the unique ability to make us feel certain emotions. Some argue that the psychology of colors is one of the most important attributes for determining consumer behavior. When choosing colors for advertising a product, there are several factors that a company should keep in mind. Some of them include the country in which the marketing campaign is taking place, the target group, and the goal - or purpose - of the advertising message.
Based on these factors - and many others - the brand/company will choose specific colors for its logo and packaging. Let’s now take a look at the most widely used colors and emotions associated with them.
Source: m16marketing.com, 2022
What does each color indicate?
Yellow shows optimism, joy, and happiness. According to experts, in advertising, yellow is mainly targeted at children. Similar to the red color, yellow is often associated with food and has been used in the logos of famous brands like McDonald's and Burger King.
Green symbolizes life, harmony and balance. In the context of color psychology, it has been linked to both nature and money. Due to its dominance in our surroundings, green is an ideal color to use as a background in logos and ads. In addition, green is often used in the advertisement of medicines, cosmetics and the promotion of “green”, organic and environmental-friendly products.
Blue expresses stability, intelligence, faith and freedom among other things. The color blue brings positive associations and, predominantly in Europe, symbolizes security and trust. Several surveys confirmed that blue is also associated with religiosity and protection. Companies often choose the color blue when creating their logos to give consumers a feeling of trustworthiness and reliability. Typical examples are companies such as Ford, Volkswagen, and Dell.
Many refer to red as the color of passion, love, anger, power, and fire. It is a color that quickly captures our attention and can be used on different occasions, for different purposes. In the form of red flashing lights for example, it signals danger, whereas when used for a red carpet it is a sign of prestige and power. The meaning associated with the color red also changes between cultures (e.g. Asian countries associate red with happiness and joy, whereas African countries associate it with death). Several fast food chain companies, such as KFC and Burger King, are known for their use of red in their logos. The main reason for this - presumably - is because red can also enhance our appetite.
The color orange represents creativity, enthusiasm, adventure and success. According to experts, orange contributes to impulse purchases and encourages trust in a brand. Similar to red, orange also stimulates appetite and it is often associated with cheapness. It has been argued that the brand Fanta uses the orange color in its logo to convey a vibrant and youthful company culture to its customers. Amazon, on the other hand, uses orange to tell its customers that they have the most affordable items.
The black color can embody pessimism, usually because we associate it with unpleasant things like death, funerals, and black magic. At the same time, black is elegant and conveys authority. Indeed, high priced products such as perfumes, motorcycles, and cars often use it. Advertisers also use it for its ability to create powerful contrasts with other (background) colors.
White is a neutral color representing absolute purity, innocence, peace, perfection, but also emptiness. In marketing, you commonly see it in advertisements for detergents and cleaning products. It is also most often combined with other colors like blue and black.
Grey usually expresses mediocrity and misery, dullness and sadness. However, it can sometimes indicate seriousness, serenity, and calmness as well. We can see the color grey being used in many tech logos and car logos such as Mercedes.
Purple and pink
Purple evokes equanimity, humility, loyalty, and mystery. It also symbolizes imagination and creativity, as well as balance and spirituality. In advertisements, purple - just like pink - is used for female products, and therefore highlights femininity.
Consistency is key when it comes to the colors that a brand uses. In other words, the colors a brand applies to its logo should be the same colors that are visible in their advertisements or website. Being consistent increases a brand’s trustworthiness, which makes consumers more likely to buy their products. Moreover, it is important to note that, despite the above mentioned color associations, there are variations in people’s perceptions of color. Indeed, perceptions are subjective, and the same color can elicit different emotions in different people - depending on their age, gender, and culture.
Overall, in this article you have seen the ways in which the psychology of colors is used by marketing companies to attract consumers and increase their sales.