The Color of Marketing

Color bands W-SquaredI get asked about colors and their meanings all the time during branding and design projects. I think most people these days are aware that marketing is very psychological, and the use of color is a very big part of that psychology. What you may not realize is that color has a direct influence on the two most important marketing objectives; Brand Awareness and Sales. The color combinations used in websites, advertising and all branding items in general influence customer behaviors and decisions, and create a perception for the brand and products. Whether we recognize it or not, we make decisions every day based on color. Here are some basic attributes for the main colors:

Red – Bold and aggressive, stands for energy and power.
Blue – Calm and stable. Associated with strength, trustworthiness and loyalty.
Green – Fun and versatile. There are obvious connections to money and wealth, and the color of nature that represents natural strength and practicality.
Yellow – Happiness and optimism. Grabs attention and portrays friendliness.
Orange – Action and excitement. A warm color that also represents passion.
Pink – Soft and feminine. A warm, comfortable color that has an obvious connection to love and romance.

The frequency and importance of color can vary by marketing tactic. For example, the two main things our minds process at the first glance of a website are color and complexity. The colors that are present send an emotional (positive or negative) response to the brain, while the complexity helps us decide if we want to read it or not (user-friendly vs. overwhelming).  A predominantly blue website is calming and trusting (popular with engineering firms), while a yellow website is optimistic and vibrant (construction companies). In advertising, colors should be used that reflect the tone and message of the campaign, not just the company brand colors. If the ad campaign focuses on new product introductions or announcements, something aggressive like red or orange is appropriate. If the campaign is appealing to human sensitivity in healthcare or nature, pink or green is appropriate.

Keep in mind that color is very powerful and elicits emotion. Choosing a color palette is usually a fun part of the branding and design process but the bottom line is that it influences purchasing decisions and helps people remember a brand.