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The use of colour in advertising


How your marketing material looks is essential to its success — but what features are most important?

There are many avenues of design when it comes to promoting your brand, but one of the most influential is colour. According to multiple scientific and psychological studies, each shade creates a different emotion in the viewer — from urgency to buy now, to trusting in a brand.

Considering some studies show that colour plays a part in how long we can recall an offer, colour use is key to a good ad. Want advice on how to use colour in marketing? Check out this marketing colour psychology guide…

Colour psychology in advertising

Has colour psychology in marketing been studied a great deal? There have been many scientific studies into the connection between shades and sales that appear to show a strong correlation. According to a Canadian experiment, nearly 90% of snap decisions regarding consumer products are based solely on colour.

If your typical customer is often either male or female, you may be interested in gender-specific studies. For example, a study published in the Journal of Retailing found that men believed savings were much greater in value if they was advertised in red rather than black, while the difference was much smaller among women. The imbalance of colour psychology between males and females was also apparent in the study, Colour Assignment. Although blue was popular across the board, this study found that purple was a second-favourite colour for women but the second-least favourite among men. Similarly, other studies on colour attractiveness found that softer hues are preferred by women, while bold shades were liked by men. Are you using the right hues for your main consumer?

How about making an ad a certain colour to achieve a particular marketing goal? For example, studies have shown that yellow is utilised to grab attention and should perhaps be the colour of choice in store windows, while red is most people’s key indicator of discount prices and ‘urgency’ and should be used on clearance sales posters for optimum effect. Also, both these shades are warm colours. According to an experiment, these are better at sticking in a viewer’s memory than cool colours (like blue and green). So, it might be good to use them on promotional ads to keep consumers thinking about your offer for longer, as well as your brand logo itself to ensure you come to mind when they next need a product or service you offer.

Also, the combination of colours can have certain effects on a viewer. Another study found that contrasting shades also improved readability — essential if you want your printed roll-up banners to be seen by more people from a greater distance.

Clearly, colour affects our cognitive process, which makes it worth your consideration when it comes to the few second you have to catch a consumer’s eye.

Company logos and colour

What about brand logos? Are they affected by colour? According to research compiled by Kissmetrics, 85% of shoppers surveyed say colour is a primary reason for buying something. Also, it was found that colour boosts brand recognition by around 80%.

The psychological effect of a brand has the potential to differ depending on the colour of the logo. Here are the emotions associated with each colour and examples of the successful brands that use them:

YellowOptimism and youthChupa Chups and McDonalds
GreenGrowth and relaxationStarbucks and Asda
PinkRomance and femininityBarbie and Very
PurpleCreative and wiseCadbury and Hallmark
BlackPower and luxuryChanel and Adidas
OrangeConfidence and happinessNickelodeon and Fanta
RedEnergy and excitementCoca Cola and Virgin Holidays
BlueTrust and securityBarclays and the NHS

According to June Mcleod, author of Colour Psychology Today: “One of the greatest assets and one of the easiest ways to sway decision or attract an emotive response — or alienate a consumer — is through colour. Purple with Cadbury; Shell with Yellow; National Trust with Green — they all work and work wonderfully well.”

Do you think the colours of the above brand logos match their ‘personality’? For example, inciting trust for a bank is important, which may be why Barclays chose blue, while Starbucks wants you to relax at their coffee shops and Virgin Holidays wants you to get excited about booking a trip.

The colour of your logo is up to you but considering that 80% of clients think a colour is accountable for brand recognition, you may want to give it some thought. If you want your customers to gain a sense of loyalty and familiarity with your brand, the colour should reflect your brand’s products, services and character.

Advertising and colour choice

It never too late to incorporate a colour change to your brand or a new way of advertising. Take beer company, Carlsberg, for example. The marketing team here worked to rebrand using colour with great success. Using white for its Carlberg Export packaging and changing its formerly green bottles to brown; the company achieved 10,000 new distribution points and a sales increase of 10% in the 12 weeks leading to summer in 2017.

Check out these tips before you go:

  • Red and yellow: use these on your large print ads to increase the chances of catching the eyes of passers-by.
  • Contrasts: using opposite shades (e.g. red and green) can improve text clarity — essential considering you have just seven seconds to make a bold first impression.
  • ‘Personality’: Decide what you want consumers to think about your brand and choose a colour to complement this — whether it’s luxurious (black) or reliable (blue).
  • Demographic: determine who you sell to and amend the colour accordingly — if it’s men, perhaps take these gender studies on board and avoid purple…

Harness the power of colour when marketing and branding in 2018!