Psychology of Colors in Marketing

Written by on Thursday, March 26, 2015

Colors in marketing are used to bring forth various emotions from the viewer. The major component in applying color in marketing is knowing the demographic you want to reach and how you want to be perceived. The application of color can send a positive or negative message, promote sales, calm an audience or show potential patient diversity.

Color psychology is used in every aspect of marketing especially in brand recognition, print production and web development. It is not a coincidence that McDonald’s has used the same two colors since 1940. This brand known for the “golden arches” on a bright red backdrop is embedded into our memories. Color perception differs among cultures, so it is best to know the intended demographic before applying color.

Beginning with black, this color can easily overwhelm a viewer if not used sparingly. It is particularly associated with power, strength, death and formality. It evokes strong emotions and can denote grieving. In contrast, the color white will give a viewer a positive message as it is perceived as clean and safe. It represents new beginnings and innocence. Gray gives the viewer a sense of detachment and isolation. Too much gray can give the sense of nothingness, but just a small amount can add the stability and depth needed for successful artwork. Red is a fast, bright and dramatic color that gives the viewer excitement. It is typically used to promote sales and events. It demands the most attention as it advances to the foreground and is normally used for buttons in display advertising to activate the viewer’s intuition.

Green symbolizes growth and is associated with money, agriculture, fertility, and safety. The color is calming and pleasing to the senses. Yellow evokes energy and is engaging. It is associated with joy, happiness, and wisdom and stimulates mental activity. When overused it can be less pleasant and distracting. Blue represents the countless opportunities ahead as it adorns much of the world. It is calm and associated with dependability, stability, trust and tranquility. This color is typically used in banking and legal offices. Orange combines the joy of yellow and energy of red. It is one of the most animated colors and gives the viewer a feeling of joy, fascination and attractiveness. It is typically used for fall and symbolizes the harvest.  Symbolizing wisdom, power and luxury, purple has the stability and loyalty of blue and the excitement of red.  Brown is the color most associated with reliability, stability and friendship. It represents the natural and can give the viewer a wholesome feeling.

Shades and tints of these colors can also symbolize stronger emotions associated with the root color such as pink being a tint of red evoking romance and passion.  Gold as a shade of yellow sparks the same joy but with a stronger association to wealth and prosperity. The combinations of colors to create triadic or analogous color schemes establish a color hierarchy to help the viewer associate color with action, such as a link on a webpage. Analyzing the demographic you want to reach and how you want to be perceived visually makes the application of color psychology beneficial, intriguing, and essential in marketing.

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