Colour Me Happy. Using Colour Psychology in Brand Marketing

Imagine a world without colour – food would appear tasteless, emotions would be dulled and your marketing would become ineffectual. Why? Because as human beings our emotions and perceptions are all influenced by colour. Colours relate to the mind, the body, the emotions and the essential balance between all three.

Think about your perceptions of food and the way food is marketed to us. Not just the colour of the food but everything in your field of vision can affect your perception of how it tastes. For example, bread is normally sold in packaging decorated or tinted with golden or brown tones to promote the idea of home baked and oven fresh. If a raspberry flavoured jam was a yellow or green colour you would automatically associate it with lemon or lime and this would affect your tastebuds. Additionally colour can intensify taste – brown M&Ms were found to be described as more “chocolatey” than green ones.

So how does this affect your marketing? In a sea of products and services colour can help your brand stand out. By harnessing the power of colour psychology your customers see what you want them to see, feel what you want them to feel, and do what you want them to do.

When making colour decisions about your brand, first determine your target audience in order to convey the right message. The colours of your brand should align with the emotions and message you want to convey.

Research on the effects of colour on product preference and marketing shows that it affects consumer preferences and hence their purchasing. A specific colour will not attract a specific audience, but certain colours are deemed appropriate for certain products – see my point about bread earlier. Would you buy bread that came in grey packaging? Or a mouldy green colour?

Consumers will make an emotional judgement on a product within the first 90 seconds and anywhere up to 90% of that judgement is based on colour! Likewise the logo or brand of your company is seen as a representation of that company and certain characteristics will be associated with that brand based on the colours chosen.

But how to choose the right colours? In my latest course on social media I have included a free bonus section on defining your style and creating your brand kit. In it I take you through the colour wheel and the different types of colours such as monochromatic, complementary, triadic and tetradic. if this all sounds like gobbledy-gook don’t panic! All you need to do is start with ONE colour for your brand and go from there.

Here’s a quick guide to some basic colour psychology and association –

RED – denotes physicality. Physical courage, strength, warmth, energy and masculinity. But beware of overuse! It also suggests negativity, defiance and aggression. Donald Trump for instance always wears a red tie – this isn’t about fashion. It’s a calculated choice to show him as strong, energetic and masculine. Similarly, Coke has long used red as its brand colour. The brand is exciting, energetic, physical and warm.

BLUE – is perceived as intelligent, trustworthy, efficient, cool and calm. How many large financial corporations can you think of that use blue in their logo? Even the negative emotions associated with blue can be turned into positives for these institutions – a lack of emotion for instance. Who wants their bank or financial advisor to make emotional decisions about their money?

YELLOW – is optimistic, happy, friendly and positive. Children often navigate towards yellow toys because of an innate feeling of happiness. The right shade of yellow will lift your spirits and your self-esteem. How much easier is it to feel happy on a sunny day when everything is bathed in a golden glow?

GREEN – is ultimately a restful colour as it strikes our eye in such a way as to require no internal adjustment from our brains. It’s the very centre of the colour spectrum and is therefore balancing. The right shade of green can make you feel refreshed, harmonious and reassured. It is the ultimate choice for any brand working in an environmental sector or wanting to appear environmentally friendly.

There are literally thousands of articles on the web about colour psychology and its use in brand marketing. Head over here to the Canva Colour Meanings page and find out what your favourite colour means and check out my latest course to help you set up your brand!