Colour in Marketing

As an Image Consultant, a lot of what I do can be summed up as ‘teaching men how to better market themselves’. I do other things as well, but lets stick with this explanation for this article. Essentially, there is little difference between marketing yourself, and marketing your business or brand; so while I can’t claim to be an advertising expert, I do know how to sell myself. So, while there numerous aspects to marketing, I’m going to talk about one that I know pretty well: Colour.

Colour Psychology is an interesting topic of study; the idea each colour subconsciously affects your thoughts and your mood is fascinating, and something that every Image Consultant needs to have an understanding of.

So, let me go through the positive and negative emotions associated with the colours, and a bit about how they are used.

Red: 

Pro: Represents courage, strength, energy, masculinity, and excitement

Con: Represents aggression, strain, defiance, and anger.

Red is the most powerful color, and it is used to get a persons attention. For marketing purposes, it if often used in ‘SALE’ signs, or flashing banners on websites; things that try to draw your attention. In the real world, it is used in traffic signs and stoplights. Red is used to get people excited; too much red on a page can be overpowering, but used in moderation, it is an excellent tool for drawing attention to a particular object.

Orange:

Pro: Warmth, security, passion, fun, abundance

Con: Frustration, frivolity, immaturity

Orange is a softer, more friendly alternative to red. Halfway between red and yellow, it combines the attention getting aspect of red, with the friendliness of yellow. A ‘fun’ colour, it is best used in small amounts, and should be mostly avoided on websites for professional services (accountants, lawyers, banking, etc). It is often used on products marketed towards children.

Yellow:

Pro: Optimistic, confidence, self-esteem, friendliness, creativity

Con: Irrational, anxiety, emotional fragility, sickness

Yellow is a very emotional colour; used in the right tone, yellow can be used to lift your spirits and self-esteem; too much yellow, or the wrong tone, can cause lowered self-esteem, and increased anxiety. Certain dull shades of yellow can create a feeling of sickness. Used correctly, yellow is a bright, vibrant, and fun colour, but one best used in small amounts, and not for professional services. Yellow, like orange, is often (and best) used on products marketed towards children (think Big Bird).

Green:

Pro: the colour or rest, reassurance, peace, and harmony, stability, endurance

Con: boredom, stagnation, blandness, jealousy

Green, for most people, is the easiest colour for the eye to perceive; this means that it puts absolutely no stress on the person seeing it, and creates a relaxing feeling. Light green can be used to represent nature, and the feeling of being outdoors. Darker greens can represent (especially in the U.S) money and greed. Green is often used to represent environmentally friendly products; some financial companies (H&R Block, for example) also use green in their marketing.

Blue:

Pro:Intelligence, communication, trust, efficiency, logic, calm, reflection, youth.

Con: Coldness, aloofness, lack of emotion, unfriendliness, immature

Blue, being the colour of knowledge and communication, is a common choice for social media websites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Skype, etc). Blue is a softer colour, and is not commonly used to aggressively grab attention; rather, it is supposed quietly attract attention, and fade into the background. Studies have shown that people tend to be more productive in blue rooms, and that athletes perform better with blue surroundings. Lighter blues are often used in marketing towards children.

Purple:

Pro: Luxury, truth, quality, spirituality

Con: Introversion, decadence, suppression, childish

Purple is the colour of royalty; associated with wealth, prosperity, and sophistication. Purple is often used to represent spirituality. Depending on the shade, purple can often be considered childish, or feminine; not as common as blue or red, purple is often used in marketing towards children (think Barney the Dinosaur, Teletubbies).

Pink:

Pro: Tranquil, nurturing, warm, femininity, love, sexuality

Con: Inhibition, emasculation, physical weakness, immaturity

Pink is softer tint of red; as such is creates softer emotions. Pink is associated with love, and femininity, and is most often used in marketing products towards women. Because it is also negatively associated with feelings of immaturity, weakness, and emasculation, it is best avoided when marketing products towards men, or for professional business websites.

Brown:

Pro: Seriousness, warmth, nature, reliability, support

Con: Lack of humour, heaviness, lack of sophistication

Brown, like green, is associated with nature, and reliability, but lacks the same calming and relaxing properties. It is used most often in marketing natural food products (coffee, chocolate, etc). Brown is a good colour for showing hard working reliability. Despite these positive qualities, the colour brown is often associated with a lack of sophistication, and with dirt; It is more common in a country setting, rather than in the city.

Grey:

Pro: Neutrality, timelessness, practical, professional, mature

Con: Empty, depression, lack of energy, boring, lifeless

Grey is a middle-of-the-road colour; it is practical, timeless, and neutral. Used in darker shades, it reflects the formality and sophistication of black, while being not as severe. The lighter the grey, the less formal it becomes. Grey is used to show security; it fades into the background and doesn’t try to grab your attention, it’s just there.

Black:

Pro: Authority, power, control, formal, sophisticated, mysterious, elegance

Con: Depressing, secretive, withholding, negative

Black is the colour of authority and power, formality and elegance. Black isn’t flashy, and like grey, isn’t typically used to grab your attention. It is a no-nonsense colour, and is typically used to help draw your attention to something else (e.g, a white text box on a black background, white text on black background, etc).

White:

Pro: Pure, clean, simple, neat, open

Con: sterile, empty, isolated, boring

White is used in a similar way to black; in that it is typically used to help bring attention to something else. White is best used in website backgrounds, as it allows most other colours to stand out better. Using white in the empty spaces of a web page make it look cleaner, and more open. Because white stands for purity, and cleanliness, it is often used in the marketing of kitchen appliances (White Goods, etc), and health related products.

Recommended Reading

I have included some links to some recommended reading, some of which I used to help write this article, and some of which is simply helpful

http://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/

http://precisionintermedia.com/color

http://www.colour-affects.co.uk/psychological-properties-of-colours

50 Shades of Marketing by BluLeadz

The Color Wheel and Men’s Clothing by Real Men Real Style

A Man’s Introduction to Color by Real Men Real Style

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