The psychology of colour has rapidly become one of the most important aspects of marketing, where information is passed immediately and nonverbally to potential customers; altering their mood about something and influencing their decisions.
Every time I pass the shop-front windows of The White Company in Bicester Village, I pause. The luxury brand that predominately deals in white, oozes class and lavish comfort. I’ll be haunting these high-end boutiques for something completely different (usually a birthday present) and it will not have occurred to me until right that second that what I needed most in my life was a woven lambswool throw. Maybe even an oil diffuser in natural wood, silently puffing out plumes of peppermint or lavender as I recline in my country cottage. It doesn’t matter that I don’t actually have a country cottage. What matters is, they can make me feel like I have.
It’s the mark of an incredibly successful marketing strategy; where potential customers or clients see themselves – or rather, how they’d like to see themselves – reflected in the carefully constructed scene in front of them.
To add some contrast to The White Company, Primark’s bright and often chaotic campaigns are just as effective for the products they sell and – importantly – the message they deliver. Where The White Company focuses on exclusivity, Primark focuses on inclusivity. Need a new pair of trainers? A little black dress for your Christmas Party? A rose-gold tinted hairband with bejewelled bunny ears? Primark’s marketing campaign wants you to know that no matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find it in-store. The White Company’s attitude is a little more hard-to-get. They have a select, expertly hand-picked line of items and if you weren’t out shopping for them in the first place, then why not? You should have been.
What's colour got to do with it?
It won’t surprise you at all to know that this is a multi-million-pound business. There are jobs – and well-paid ones at that – dedicated to analysing the inner-sanctum of the human brain for the sole purpose of figuring out what will push an undecided buyer into a committed one.
Here’s a quick round-up of the most important things to consider when starting your next ad campaign…
Use red when you want to demand attention. This is the most common colour used in calls to action. It’s also the colour of the little red dots on your screen, letting you know there are things you’ve missed and need to be seen. Often associated with life, energy, excitement and passion. When used properly, red is powerful – just ask Coca-cola…
Use orange when you want to encourage and build confidence. It’s a creative colour; full of optimism and warmth. Vibrant and bright, it works beautifully with blue for a bold marketing or brand campaign. Used in a professional capacity, it’s often associated with affordability so this is a great one to use if you’re targeting customers on a budget!
Use yellow when you want to uplift and give hope. The eternal childhood colour, yellow is a gift when used properly in marketing. Like orange, it is creative and optimistic, but it’s also associated with intellect and fresh ideas. Above all, yellow is playful – a must for any campaign trying to convey a sense of happiness or fun.
Use green when you want to connect your product with nature or balance. Green is synonymous with environment, conjuring images of growth and stability. Therefore, a darker shade of green is a wonderful choice for anyone promoting financial services. With a reputation for harmony and healing, it’s also an obvious selection for the health and wellness industry.
Use blue when you want to instil a sense of peace and trust. What could be more calming and serene? Blue is the world’s most favoured and trusted colour. It’s why airlines are so keen on it for their branding and uniforms. It promotes a sense of dependability, honesty and space, which makes it a must for any company needing commitment from their clients.
Use purple when you want to promote imagination and inspire your audience. Purple is closely linked with spirituality, often representing the introspective and sensitive. In marketing, it’s commonly used to signal a luxury item or premium branding; letting customers know that they are receiving something high-end and expensive.
And there you have it – your crash course in colour psychology for marketing. Although these are great generic tips, remember that there is always variety among specific audiences – market research is always a great way to test out your campaigns before you make a big investment!