When it comes to colour psychology, most of us have seen enough infographics to think we have a basic grasp of how this works. Red is used to express excitement, purple is calming and blue is trustworthy. Every colour is assigned a neat definition and then brands are duty-bound to use this template to inform their branding decisions.
Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as this.
The psychology of colour is a hotly disputed topic. Not everyone agrees that something as simple as colour can elicit the same visceral reactions in everyone. Reactions to colour are influenced by things like your past experiences, upbringing, personal preference, gender, location and even the context.
That’s not to say that you should completely disregard the use of colour psychology in branding. Colour can be very powerful when it comes to branding. Colour is easily recognisable, so if you land on the right hue, you are more likely to make a lasting impression on your audience. Coca Cola’s red truck, the yellow arches at McDonald’s and our bold orange website are great examples of this.
When it comes to colour psychology, meeting the viewer’s expectations is more important than trying to elicit a certain reaction based on the use of colour. Your brand should have its own distinct personality, and this personality should be expressed through the choice of colour, as long as it meets the expectations of the viewer.
According to psychologist Jennifer Aaker, there are five different dimensions to a brand’s personality, and these can be expressed through the use of colour. The dimensions are sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication and ruggedness. Colours do align with these distinct personalities, for example, purple is considered sophisticated while brown is rugged.
So, in developing your brand, you need to ensure it has its own personality. This will help you to define the colours needed to effectively share your message. You might not be able to evoke passion, excitement, calmness or rugged masculinity through the use of a colour, but the use of colour can help to build your brand personality.
Colour in design
This isn’t the only way that colour psychology can be used to your advantage. We’ve all seen the case studies showing how changing the colour of a button can help to boost conversions. According to research, there is no one colour that is better for CTA buttons. All that matters is that the button stands out on the rest of the page. If your page is predominantly green, then a red button will stand out more than a green button.
When it comes to choosing your brand colours, what’s important is ensuring that it meets the expectations of the target audience. If your company personality is rugged and exciting, the viewer expects to see brown and red hues. If your company personality is calming and professional, the viewer expects to see blue and white. And if your company has an eco-warrior personality, green will help you to get this message across.
While it isn’t an exact science, paying attention to the way that colour is used in marketing can help you to develop a strong brand persona and communicate with your target audience.
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