How to effectively use color as a marketing tool6 minute read

As a marketer or designer, a powerful tool you have in your brand bible is the use of color to reflect personality and influence consumer behavior.

We are visual creatures and color plays a huge role in influencing what we purchase – more so than we think. It’s for this reason why experiments should be undertaken on buy now buttons and on other call to actions.

Often through experimentation, you’ll find that color alone can increase the conversation rate for your target audience. For example, older people like blue, purple, and green, while younger people are more into yellow, red, and orange. As we age, our preferences tend towards the darker and cooler colors of shorter wavelength over the excitatory, long wavelength colors.

Break out your brand guidelines and learn how to evoke emotion in your marketing:

Marketing and color psychology

White

White is neutral. As a rule, it serves as a background against which any information is perceived easily. It almost never causes negative associations and is associated with purity, youth, and light. Using white as a predominant brand colour does require restraint in design, and if badly executed can lack personality. But, it can reflect a modern, pristine, clean look.

Great brand examples: Apple, Adidas, Lancome, Michelin, Vans, Nike.

Black

Black has always been fashionable; it evokes feelings of solidity and high quality. It’s linked with night, mystery, and sadness, but also security, authority, power and elegance. Black is well suited to certain industries such as fashion (think Chanel, Puma, Ray-Ban) but is not well suited to others such as health or medical. If you want to appear economical and affordable, stay away from the dark side.

Great brand examples: Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, WWF, The New York Times, Cartier, Zara.

Purple

Purple contributes to the adopting of creative solutions. It is a color of abstraction and inner concentration, popular among creative people. Purple conveys wisdom, artistry, inspiration, nobility, and mystery. It’s perfect for advertising with an accent on creativity. Purple crops up in brands that push for prestige and extravagance. Purple is still a large favourite for females.

Great brand examples: Hallmark, Cadbury, FedEx, LA Lakers, New York University (NYU)

Blue

Blue calms, adjusts the user to rational decision-making, does not excite the mind or cause negative emotions. At the same time, it’s one of the best colors to attract attention. There are no natural blue foods in nature which is why it suppresses appetite and is not commonly associated with large food brands, however, it can help you stand out in your space. Brands such as Nivia, American Express, Facebook, Visa and Samsung have been using blue to attach themselves to feelings of trust, loyalty, maturity and dependability – especially those in the banking and financial space, and technology.

Great brand examples: Facebook, Dell, PayPal, Intel, Skype, Volkswagen, Unilever, IBM.

Green

Green can provide healing and relaxing effects by its neutrality – and it’s preferred equally by men and women which is why it’s so often used in advertising of medicines, clinics and health centers. It’s associated with life, nature, harmony, naturalness, and kindness. Health-driven brands, pharmaceuticals and organic foods use green strongly to link them with nature, growth and freshness.

Great brand examples: Starbucks, TicTac, Wholefoods, Perrier, LandRover, AnimalPlanet, Spotify, Subway.

Yellow

Yellow is welcoming, can make the advertised product “intelligent” and help to absorb new ideas. Yellow works best in advertising of children’s goods and reflects feelings of warmth, holiday, joy and freedom. Shades of yellow can look dirty and be a challenge on eyesight, but designers can work magic with inspiring feelings of youthfulness, intellect and optimism..

Great brand examples: The golden arches of McDonald’s, PostIt, Yellow Pages, Bic, Snapchat, Warner Bros, National Geographic.

Orange

Orange causes a surge of vital energy and protects customer against the negative impact of external factors. Orange can make the consumer more active suggesting movement, sociability, cheerfulness and speed. Darker shades tend to associate with ‘earthy’ brands. It’s the color most people consider ‘cheap’ and associate with bargains – but that may work for a brand for example, EasyJet, JetStar and Amazon.

Great brand examples: Nickelodeon, FedEx, The Home Depot, TNT, EasyJet, Jet Star.

Red

Red stimulates the consumer to take immediate decisions and commit to rash actions, so it’s effective with sales and thus typical for advertising. The semantics of red raise feelings of passion, life, will, activity, loudness and fire. Red gets the pulse of your audience racing leaning this color to be well suited with car brands and lingerie. It also encourages appetite so is seen in the fast food industry.

Great brand examples: KFC, Burger King, McDonald’s, Virgin, Ferrari, Coca-Cola, Netflix, CNN, Bugatti, Alfa Romeo, Tesla.

Pink

Magenta or pink, is widely connected to portray femininity and is a positive color inspiring comfort, passion and hope. It’s been used in various industries to successfully break boundaries but you’ll most often think of those brands connecting strongly with women such as Barbie, Victoria’s Secret and Cosmopolitan to name a few. 

Great brand examples: Hello Kitty, T Mobile, Roxy, Barbie.

Ultimately it comes down to appropriateness and fit

The truth is, if you have a crappy product, you’re not going to fix it by slapping a blue logo on it. But if you’re responsible for marketing the brand, play to its color advantage and associate matching imagery and wording to reinforce the feelings to influence your audience.