The Psychology of Color in Sales, Marketing, and Branding

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Color plays a huge role in business…probably a much larger role than you think.  In a recent study titled Impact of Color in Marketing, researchers found that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone. This is astonishing but shows that from a psychological perspective color can be used as a powerful branding and marketing tool. If done properly, companies can evoke certain emotions and feelings from color alone.

Here are some examples of color being effectively used by real-world companies.

Yellow

Yellow communicates optimism by stimulating the logic center of the brain. It promotes enthusiasm, cheerfulness, and youthfulness. This color is often used to grab the attention of window shoppers. For example, Cheerios (literally has the word cheer in it) has built their entire brand on starting your day off on a positive note with a bowl of cereal.

Red

Red is the preferred color of fast food restaurants because red communicates energy and is known for encouraging appetite. It can increase the heart rate and creates a sense of urgency. Red is often seen in clearance sales and is a great color for increasing sales now. Wendy’s, Arby’s, McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Hardee’s, and McDonald’s, Dairy Queen, Papa Johns, and Popeye’s Chicken all use red in their logos for this primary reason.

Blue

Blue is the preferred color of men. It’s associated with reliability and comfort. When people see the color blue, they get a sensation of trust and security. This is a popular choice for tech companies, consumer goods, banks, and customer-facing businesses. A great example is this logo from Dell Computers. When I was younger, computers were seen as faceless boxes that sat in a spare room, were somewhat complicated to use, and were prone to cyber-attacks. Dell (and HP/IBM) use blue in their logos to evoke a sense of trust and friendliness, which helped the tech giants become more family-friendly.

Green

Green is the easiest color for the eye to process. It’s used to relax people, and can even communicate a sense of wealth, tranquility, nature, and good health. It stimulates harmony in the brain and encourages a balance between body and emotions. Whole Foods Market uses green in their logo to represent good health and environmentally friendly sustainable foods.

Orange

Orange is an alarming color. It grabs people’s attention in an aggressive way, but communicates happy and energetic feelings. It can come across as sociable, friendly, enthusiastic, and affordable. It’s commonly used as a call to action color, prompting someone to buy, sell, or subscribe (hence why my “subscribe” button is orange!) The Home Depot uses orange to communicate a friendly and happy environment, but also encourages people to buy.

Pink

While blue is the preferred color of men, pink is the preferred color of women. Pink of often used to market to women and young girls. It communicates a feeling of empowerment, sophistication, and cleanliness. Roxy uses pink to market their clothing specifically to girls and women who like surfing and snowboarding culture.

Black

Black is a powerful color that communicates sleekness, strength, stability, luxury, and intelligence. It’s often used to market high-dollar products. Apple Computers logo performs this exceptionally well and helped Apple rise out of near bankruptcy and compete with other computer companies during the 90’s.

Purple

Purple is the color of royalty. It’s used to communicate wisdom, respect, majesty, and mystery. It’s frequently used to stimulate creativity and problem-solving. Monster.com, one of the original job search aggregators, uses purple to communicate their prestige as one of the best places to search for a job online.

Grey

Grey symbolizes feelings of timelessness and practicality. It’s a very utilitarian color that communicates that something will last forever. Swarovski uses grey to market their jewelry as being forever products that will stand the test of time. Be cautious when using grey – too much of it can lead to feelings of emptiness.

Combining colors is encouraged to reduce the aggression of only one color. Combining colors can help a business communicate more than one message. For example, BMW uses blue (to communicate the sense of trust and security) and black (to communicate power and luxury). For this website here, I chose orange (for happiness, cheerfulness, and the call to action) and black (sleekness and intelligence). 

Next time you’re out and about, take a look at the colors that companies use to market their products/services. See if you can match the colors being used with the feelings that they are trying to evoke in consumers. Better yet – experiment with your own products/services with different color schemes to see if you can elicit a different reaction for your customers and prospects. Perhaps a tweak in color is all you need!

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Author: Jason Karaman

Hello! I’m a marketing, sales, and customer service author, blogger and doer. I live in the South Carolina Lowcountry with my wife. I enjoy reading, writing, hiking, kayaking, and all things beach. For media inquiries, send an email to JasonKaraman@ExpertCaller.com

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