The Psychology of Colors in branding and marketing communications
Author: Barbara Barilová
Date of Publication: 29/10/2022
There is a certain subconscious attraction that decides if we purchase some product or not. Specifically, it is colors that play a significant role in our purchasing decisions. We are talking about the so-called psychology of color, which greatly influences our choice. Have you ever had the experience of not buying a certain product because it wasn't in your favorite color? I bet you have.
Each color has a unique ability to bring a certain emotion in us. They influence our mood, the choice of color even reflects the consumer's culture or religion. Several professional and scientific sources refer to the psychology of color as one of most important attributes determining consumer behavior. When choosing colors in marketing communication, a company should focus on a variety of factors. These are, for example, the target group it wants to reach or the country in which the marketing campaign is going to take the place. Based on this, the company selects the most appropriate color for its logo or for the packaging of its products. Let's take a look at the meaning of the most widely used colours and the emotions associated with them.
Source: m16marketing.com, 2022
What does each color indicate?
Yellow shows optimism, joy, happiness but also deception. Yellow is mainly targeted at children in advertising, not least because it is the first color to which children respond, according to experts. Like red, yellow is often associated with food and has been incorporated into the logos of brands such as Lay's, Maggi and the aforementioned McDonald's and Burger King.
Green symbolizes nature, life, harmony and balance. In the context of color psychology, green is linked with both nature and money. Due to its dominance in our surroundings, it is natural for us to see it, so it is an ideal colour to use as a background. It is often used in advertisements for medicines, cosmetics or the promotion of 'green' products. An interesting fact associated with this 'positive' colour is, among other things, that green is banned in certain areas of Indonesia. This restriction is mainly in the southern part of the island of Java. Actually it has to do with the myth that a person wearing green clothes will be pulled into the sea by the waves and drown. From a practical point of view, green clothing isn’t of recommendation because it makes the drowning person less visible in the event of a rescue.
Blue expresses stability, intelligence, faith, freedom. The color blue brings positive associations and, predominantly in Europe, symbolizes security and trust. Several surveys confirm that blue is the most popular colour in the world. It is particularly important in connection with religious beliefs. If you have visited Greece or Turkey, you will have come across talismans in the shape of a blue eye. This amulet expresses people's belief that it will protect them from evil spirits. Companies choose the colour blue when creating their logos, mainly to give consumers a feeling of trustworthiness and reliability. Typical examples are companies such as Boeing, Ford, Volkswagen, Unilever, Dell and many others.
Many refer to it as the color of passion, love, anger, power and fire. Red often appears as a very energetic, even aggressive colour that quickly captures our attention. It is quite a versatile colour. In the form of red flashing lights, it signals danger, whereas a red carpet is a sign of prestige and refinement. Its meaning is also closely linked to culture. While in Asian countries it is an expression of happiness and joy, in African countries it is associated with death. What’s more, the colour red is often used in connection with several fast food chains such as KFC and Burger King. The reason is simple. The colour red tends to whet our appetite.
The colour orange represents creativity, enthusiasm, adventure and success. According to experts, orange contributes to impulse purchases and encourages trust in a brand. Similarly, red or yellow stimulates appetite. For example, brands like Nickelodeon and Fanta use orange to convey a vibrant and youthful company culture to customers. Orange is a colour that most people associate with cheaper goods. This is why it is also used by the brand Amazon to tell customers that you will get the most affordable products from them.
The black color can show pessimism, because we associate it with unpleasant things like funerals, cemeteries, black magic. But at the same time it is elegant, it has authority, and distance. In fact, it fits only with a specific group of mostly high quality, high price products such as perfumes, motorcycles, and limousines. So, in advertising we use its contrast and ability to highlight the surrounding colors.
White is a neutral color representing absolute purity, innocence, perfection, but also emptiness. It symbolizes snow, ice, calm and peace. In marketing, you commonly meet it in advertisements for various detergents and cleaning products. Also, it is most often combined with blue and black depending on the combination of colours.
Grey is a very neutral color, sometimes expressing mediocrity and misery, and has no character of its own. It is passive, it goes to the point of dullness and gloom. The primary feeling it evokes is sadness. On the other hand, it can indicate seriousness, serenity and calmness.
Purple and pink
Purple, as a combination of blue and red, could be a middle ground between these two colours. It evokes equanimity, peace, repentance, humility, loyalty or mystery. Also, it symbolizes imagination and spirituality. The combination of energy in red and stability in blue, creates a kind of balance. Moreover, what’s interesting in this color is its calmness, but at the same time it represents a space for new ideas. When using purple, you shoud be careful, because it also can be distracting. Last, it’s most often used for products for females.
These correctly chosen colors shouldn’t only be in the logo, but also in the overall corporate communication, such as the brand image video. Colors have a certain appearance, but they also contain an objective experience. However, man is a unique creature, and despite the above general associations, there are variations in the perception of color. Different perceptions may arise not only by age, gender, but also by a person's current mood or temperament. Yet these psychological aspects of the colors in question should be the first thing of consideration in corporate communication.
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COLORSPSYCHOLOGY.ORG, 2020. The Psychology of Colors in Marketing and Branding [online] Available at: https://www.colorpsychology.org/color-psychology-marketing/
M16MARKETING.COM, 2022. Color Psychology Marketing and The Meaning of Colors in Marketing [online] Available at: https://m16marketing.com/digital-marketing-blog/color-psychology-in-marketing-the-meaning-of-color-in-design/