One of the most intriguing—and contentious—aspects of marketing is the psychology of color as it relates to persuasion.
In our opinion at OTT SEO, the issue has always been an insufficient depth of study. Color psychology in marketing and branding is frequently represented in flashy infographics that hardly ever go above See ‘n Say levels of coverage, despite the fact that color theory is a topic of depth and nuance.
We lack the knowledge necessary to make informed choices about how to best use the color spectrum in our branding and marketing as a result of these superficial debates. But why is a potentially interesting dialogue so consistently superficial?
What is Color Psychology?
The study of how colors influence perceptions and actions are known as color psychology. Color psychology in marketing and branding is concerned with how colors affect consumers’ perceptions of a brand and whether or not they influence consumers to think about particular brands or make purchases.
It’s a crucial area of study to take into account while developing marketing materials, starting a new company, or rebranding an existing one. Researchers discovered that up to 90% of quick judgments made about products can be based just on color in a study titled “Effect of Color on Marketing.”
The Issue With Color Psychology in Marketing and Branding
There have been numerous attempts to categorize how individuals respond to various colors. But in reality, color depends too much on individual experiences to be consistently associated with particular emotions. According to research, environment, cultural variations, personal preferences, experiences, upbringings, and circumstances can all affect how certain colors affect us.
So, the assumption that hues like yellow or purple may elicit a single, very specific feeling is about as accurate as a traditional palm reading.
Think about how inaccurate generalizations like “green equals calm” are. The context is missing: Green can be used to promote environmental causes, as with Seventh Generation, or financial industries, as with Mint.
And while Saddleback Leather uses brown to generate a tough appeal, brown can also be utilized to evoke warm, welcoming feelings (think Thanksgiving) or pique your appetite (think of all the chocolate advertisements you’ve ever seen).
But if we sincerely accept that definitive answers aren’t given, there is still much to discover and take into account. The idea is to consider pragmatic approaches to choosing colors.
How to Use Color Strategically in Your Branding and Marketing?
The truth is that there aren’t any precise rules for picking colors for your brand. The reality is that the answer to the question “What colors are perfect for my brand?” is always “It depends,” even if it would be lovely to be able to make the right choice by looking at an infographic.
Although it is a discouraging response, it is the reality. An important factor to take into account is the environment in which you work. What matters is the emotion, tone, and impression that your brand or product evokes.
The good news is that understanding color psychology will enable you to make the best decision.
Your Brand Will Benefit From the Suitable Color
Researchers discovered in a 2006 study that the perceived suitability of the hue being utilized for the specific brand is what drives the association between brands and color. Or to put it another way: Does the hue go with what’s being sold?
According to studies, predicting how consumers will react to a color’s suitability is significantly more crucial than the color itself when choosing the “correct” shade.
Hence, while choosing colors for your marketing and branding, ask yourself, “Is this color acceptable for what I’m selling?” or, even better, gather client feedback.
The Ideal Color Showcases the Character of Your Brand.
Colors have a significant impact on consumers’ purchasing intentions because they have an impact on how a brand is viewed; they affect how consumers perceive the “personality” of the brand in question.
And while many academic studies on colors and branding will agree that it’s far more crucial for colors to support the personality you want to project rather than trying to align with stereotypical color associations, some studies do find that certain colors do broadly align with specific traits (for example, brown with ruggedness).
Jennifer Aaker, a psychologist, and professor at Stanford, has undertaken research on this subject, and in her work “Dimensions of Brand Personality,” she identifies five key factors that affect a brand’s personality.
Although brands may combine two characteristics, one trait predominates most of the time.
What kind of personality do you want your brand to have? How can color help you portray that personality?
The Right Color Appeals to Your Audience
Joe Hallock’s “Colour Assignment” is one of the more intriguing investigations on color psychology in regard to gender.
The research from Hallock shows that different genders clearly favor different colors. Yet it’s crucial to remember that the majority of his responders came from Western cultures. Color appropriateness for gender is strongly influenced by one’s environment, particularly by cultural perspective, which in turn can have an impact on personal color preferences.
According to additional studies on color perception and preferences, men tend to choose vivid shades, tints, and hues while women favor gentler hues. Moreover, men are more prone to choose shades of colors (colors with black added) as their favorites, whereas women are more responsive to tints of colors (colors with white added).
I have no idea why this is such a contentious topic in color theory. Brands may simply break free of gender norms. In fact, I’d contend that many have already received rewards for defying expectations.
The following argument, which brings me right to the next, is that “perceived appropriateness” shouldn’t be so strict as to presume a brand or product can’t flourish because the colors don’t suit polled tastes.
The Right Color Differentiates Your Brand
Further research has shown that our brains favor instantly recognizable brands, which emphasizes the significance of color in developing a brand identity. Even one journal article makes the case that it’s crucial for emerging brands to use hues that set them apart from established rivals.
The perfect color choice can make your brand stand out. The Isolation Effect is a psychology theory that asserts that something that “sticks out like a sore thumb” is more likely to be recalled.
Studies demonstrate unequivocally that when an item stands out from its surroundings, whether it be text or an image, participants are much more likely to notice and retain it.
While a sizable majority of consumers prefer color patterns with similar colors, they also like palettes with a sharply contrasting accent color, according to two studies on color combinations, one evaluating aesthetic reaction and the other looking at customer preferences.
In terms of color coordination, this entails constructing a visual framework using accent complementary (or tertiary) colors to contrast with base analogous colors.
This idea is crucial to marketing as well. Another approach to thinking about it is to use backdrop, base, and accent colors to establish a hierarchy on your website that “guides” visitors on which color encourages action, as designer Josh Byers illustrates below.
Why is this important? You can avoid consuming the conversion rate optimization Kool-Aid that has led so many people astray by being aware of these ideas.
Take this frequently cited example of increased conversions brought on by a change in button color.
The conversion rate increased by 21% after the button was changed to red. We cannot, however, draw quick conclusions about “the power of the color red” in a vacuum.
The remainder of the page is obviously designed with a green color scheme, thus a green call to action simply blends in with the surroundings. Red, on the other hand, is a color that compliments green and offers a striking visual contrast.
How we define “success” for these tests is a final but crucial factor. More sign-ups and clicks are only two examples of simple measurements that marketers strive to manipulate because they are so simple to take.
The Right Color has the Right Name
Despite the fact that different colors might be seen in various ways, the labels given to those hues also matter.
When individuals were asked to evaluate goods with various color names, such as makeup, fancy names were preferred much more frequently, according to a research titled “A rose by any other name…” For instance, even though the individuals were shown the same color, “mocha” was determined to be much more endearing than “brown.”
According to an additional study, the same impact holds true for a wide range of products. For example, customers evaluated richly named paint hues as more aesthetically pleasing than their plainly called counterparts.
Also, it has been demonstrated that more peculiar and distinctive color names are preferred for everything from jelly beans to sweaters. For example, crayons with names like “razzmatazz” were more frequently chosen than crayons with names like “lemon yellow.”
Choosing a Personal Palette
Even if this essay has come to a conclusion, there is still no cheat sheet for selecting the ideal hue or color scheme. In actuality, we might have generated more queries than responses. What a scam.
The fact is that we might never have conclusive answers because of the kaleidoscopic character of color theory.
But just because there are a lot of “maybes” and “kind of” in a topic doesn’t imply we should stop analyzing it critically. The only reliable approach to arrive at improved answers is to challenge preconceptions and ask better questions by using the research that is already accessible.