The Psychology of Color in Marketing

By April 14, 2010 No Comments

Have you ever been blue? Green with envy? Or, are you one of those people who view the world through rose-colored glasses?

Color plays an important role in our lives. So, it’s no surprise it is a vital ingredient for effective marketing.

But how do designers know which colors to use and when?

Many studies have been conducted regarding the psychology of color. In one study it was found that weightlifters were able to lift more weight in blue gyms. In another study conducted by Dr. Alexander Schauss, Ph.D., it was determined that a room painted a color close to “bubble gum pink” could be used to calm violent prisoners in jail.

Since color can affect our moods and even our bodies, it’s important to choose colors wisely when designing a marketing piece.

Here is a list of some of the common colors and what type of psychological emotion they invoke in people in North America:

RED is associated with love, passion, danger, warning, excitement, food, impulse, action, adventure.

BLUE is associated with trustworthiness, success, seriousness, calmness, power, professionalism.

GREEN is associated with money, nature, animals, health, healing, life, harmony.

ORANGE is associated with comfort, creativity, celebration, fun, youth, affordability.

PURPLE is associated with royalty, justice, ambiguity, uncertainty, luxury, fantasy, dreams.

WHITE is associated with innocence, purity, cleanliness, simplicity.

YELLOW is associated with curiosity, playfulness, cheerfulness, amusement.

PINK is associated with softness, sweetness, innocence, youthfulness, tenderness.

BROWN is associated with earth, nature, tribal, primitive, simplicity.

GREY is associated with neutrality, indifference, reserved.

BLACK is associated with seriousness, darkness, mystery, secrecy.

But it’s important to go beyond the stereotypical associations to color. For the most effective use of color in your marketing piece, you must consider the target market and the objective you are trying to obtain. For instance, have you noticed that a lot of fast-food restaurants use the colors red and orange? These colors encourage diners to eat quickly and leave. And what if you are designing a piece for an international market? Colors in other countries have different meanings than those in North America. In China, you would not catch a bride wearing white, as traditionally this color represents death in their culture.

So, the bottom line is this: do your research and consider your colors very carefully. Simply choosing blue because it’s your favorite color will not work in the world of marketing.