Do you feel peaceful and secure when you see the colour blue? Or maybe enthusiastic and optimistic when you see the colour yellow? It is known that colour tends to have a powerful psychological effect on people’s emotions and decisions. That’s why it is so important that you choose carefully when thinking of the visual aspects of your marketing campaigns and your company’s branding. Poor colour choices can ruin a great idea or even cause your CTA to be less effective.

There are many pieces of research showing what emotions and effects different colours can have; for example, red light is proven to increase the heartbeat. In the book ‘Brutal simplicity of thought: How it changed the world’, it has a section on how colour can control human behaviour. It states “We now know there is psychology to colours. They can elicit particular responses in us that we have little control over. For example, red light is proven to increase the heartbeat. The first traffic light was established in 1868 outside the Houses of Parliament. Simple revolving gas lights, one red and one green. Unfortunately, on 2nd January 1869 it exploded, killing the attendant policeman.”.

However, it is hard to say for definite what colours have what effects, as personal preference, upbringing, experiences and cultural differences all have an effect. However, as long as you accept that there are no concrete answers, there’s still a lot to learn and consider when choosing colours for your marketing campaigns and branding.

Marketing and colours with the world's biggest brands.

Image Credit: The Logo Company

The image above shows how different companies have used colour to add effect to their branding. McDonalds is one of the biggest brands in the world and has a logo that consists of a yellow M on a red square. Firstly, red and yellow are the most appealing colours to children, one of the main target audiences of McDonalds. The red is used to increase appetite and to create a sense of urgency, as they are a fast food restaurant and want people to order and leave quickly. Yellow is used to create a feel of optimism and positivity around the brand. This is then backed up by their slogan “I’m lovin’ it”. Another good example is Starbucks. Their logo consists of a white mermaid inside a green circle. There aren’t many global companies that use green as their primary colour. With Starbucks, this helps build a sense of relaxation around the brand that helps with inviting people in to have a coffee and de-stress.

Finally, one of the main points you have to take into account when choosing your brands colours is your target audience. In an interesting study of Colour Assignment by Joe Hallcock, he looks at the difference in colour preferences between both men and women. Interestingly, blue was the outright winner for both genders. However, purple was a close second for women whereas it wasn’t chosen once by men. This may be why you don’t see many purple male products. Another thing to take into consideration is your target audience’s age. Joe Hallcock also found that bright colours like red, orange and yellow are huge favourites among young children. However, as the age groups get older, colours such as blue, green and purple are favoured over the brighter colours.

As mentioned earlier, it is hard to pinpoint the effects different colours have on people as there are too many variables. However, there is defiantly enough research available to help guide you in the right direction when choosing colours for your branding.

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