The Psychology of Colour in Marketing

Colour is creativity. It is a strategy. Colour isn’t just an element to consider. It is one of the most powerful tools in marketing that can steer the direction of a campaign or brand. The concept of colour is not linear. We see colour, hear colour, and read colour. It has the ability to influence behaviour, emotions, perceptions, and views – also known as Colour Psychology. 

 

What is Colour Psychology?

Colour psychology is research that is being conducted on the effects of colour on human behaviour and emotions. Moods and decision-making are impacted and influenced by different colours, tones, shades and hues that can evoke certain associations and connections. The psychology of colour can differ or depend on personal preferences and culture.

 

Understanding the Meaning of Every Colour

The colour spectrum itself may look simple and linear, but there is an interesting “relationship” between the colours on the spectrum, in a logo, in branding, in a campaign, and on digital marketing platforms. Every colour plays a role in the message that we want to communicate. What better way to understand the psychology of colour in digital marketing than applying the theory to some of our favourite brands and social/digital platforms?

 

Red: Bold and Action

Red is the excitement invoked by Netflix when we sit in anticipation of another series or the release of new episodes. It is the passion for buying and building a Lego collection. It is the action taken by Absa to be more than a bank and to tell your story. Red is hunger, which is kindly satisfied by KFC. It is the urgency communicated in call-to-action buttons and sales. Red is youthful, which may suggest something interesting about YouTube as a digital platform. 

 

Orange: Cheerful and Friendly

Orange is the cheerfulness and joy felt when watching Nickelodeon. It is the friendliness to share a cool Fanta Orange. It can be another way to prompt a CTA. Or it can inspire  freedom and adventure by brands that aim to uplift their audiences. Orange is the confidence to post and share on Instagram, and the innovation on Reddit when people share the latest news, information and posts. 

 

Yellow: Happiness and Motivation

We feel the joy of happy childhood memories when we see the iconic McDonald’s yellow. Yellow is the positivity and warmth of buying toys for your kids at The Crazy Store. It is the happiness of sharing moments with our closest friends and family on Snapchat. It’s the eye-catching colour that is perfect for brands that evoke creativity and extroversion, and it’s great for enhancing fun promotions. 

 

Green: Peace and Growth

Green is the peacefulness felt when driving in a Land Rover. It is growth and health experienced when eating your favourites from Food Lover’s Market. It is the security of saving with Old Mutual. Green is the calm and soothing feeling in Spotify’s music and podcast content. 

 

Blue: Trustworthy and Dependable

IBM’s iconic blue does the job to a T. It is the trust companies feel with IBM as a tech partner. It is the strength of a Samsung phone, fridge, TV, or microwave that has lasted beyond expectations. It is the reliability of that Oreo tasting delicious, every time. It is the dependability and stimulation of productivity and motivation on LinkedIn and that peaceful scroll through Facebook. 

 

Pink: Creativity and Imagination

Barbie embodies pink perfectly. From playing with Mattel’s most famous to watching the newly released film, pink is imaginative fun. It captures our attention, inspires us to take action, and gives a feeling of hope or even a hint of romance. This makes it the perfect colour for brands that sell beauty products, toys, and baby products. It also makes an appearance as the creativity of Instagram. 

 

Purple: Luxury and Creativity

Imagine Cadbury’s rich and luxurious purple and the satisfaction that every chocolate leaves in our mouths. For chocolate-loving South Africans, Cadbury is associated with royalty and prestige. Purple is the perfect colour for high-end products and brands. But, it also communicates the creativity and quirkiness that we find in the content brands and consumers share on Instagram (something’s happening here with Insta… can you spot it?). 

 

Black: Power and Stability

Black is the strength we feel in Nike’s swoosh or “Just do it”. It is the power we experience in Puma and the stability we love in Adidas. It is luxurious, sophisticated and timeless. The perfect colour for the powerful and influential information and content creation platforms, X and Threads. 

 

White: Elegance and Purity

White is the simplicity and calm experienced when using an Apple product. It is the interesting contrast to black in the Cartoon Network logo or the complementary partner to black on Wikipedia. Some brands use white to encourage their consumers to create something unique as it can be their “blank canvas”. 

 

Colour Considerations in Culture 

Yellow in Latin America and Eastern Cultures represents mourning, while in Western cultures, it represents positivity and joy. The same applies to white. These are nuances of colour that need to be thoroughly researched and understood when creating a brand or a piece of work. Used correctly, these colours can create and communicate something empathetic and beautiful, but used incorrectly they could have the opposite effect. 

 

Integrating Colour Psychology with Digital Marketing

Research suggests that within 90 seconds of initially seeing the brand, subconscious decisions are made by consumers, and up to 90% of those judgments are based on colour alone. (Read more at Palo Creative.)

Studies have also shown that 85% of customers identify colour as the primary reason for them choosing one brand over another, according to Ignyte

At Flume, we embrace and harness the power of colour in communication – in design, copy, and strategy. In our digital marketing campaigns, we are able to take our understanding of colour psychology and apply it to a range of concepts and platforms. To create beautiful work is to understand the psychology of colour. After all, colour is a brand’s identity, message, and meaning. 

 

The Relationship Between Colour Psychology and Digital Platforms

There are specific subconscious messages that are communicated by a brand through the colour/s that they choose. Does the brand want to evoke the association of trust, happiness, growth, peace, security, excitement, innovation, creativity..? The list goes on. 

It’s interesting to consider that there is a direct link between a platform and its colour of choice because this prompts the question: Does colour play a role in a brand’s choice of which platform suits its campaign goals best? 

Digital marketers (successful ones, anyway) need to consider the effects of certain colours on consumers. For example, young consumers tend to be drawn to warm colours (red, orange, and yellow) and older consumers are more likely to appreciate the cooler colours (like green, blue, and purple). 

 

Could there be a link?

Different target audiences are drawn to certain platforms based on the colour/s of the platform, the messaging per platform, and the content on each platform. YouTube has a gallery of content for all types of consumers, but the iconic red of the platform is geared to inspire all of its users, no matter their tastes, to create and/or share content. Snapchat’s yellow creates a sense of happiness when sharing content. On WhatsApp, brands build and grow connections and easily share information with consumers, especially if those  brands incorporate the latest app features. Spotify’s iconic green has created a creative and peaceful space for brands to promote and advertise in. We are more inclined to trust the content posted on LinkedIn, partly because it targets more “mature” audiences. X and Threads have a massive influence on consumers because of their association with power and strength. Instagram’s colour choices are interesting because it has gone with a combination of purple, pink, orange, and yellow. This mix creates an inclusive space in which multiple audiences are targeted at once. Insta users are made to feel inspired to create a range of content, from creative and quirky personal content to brand and product advertising. 

 

Colour Is the Key

In any part of digital marketing, the choice and use of colour could mean the difference between a positive reaction (conversion, click-through, sale, ) and a negative one. Colour can result in the failure of a campaign or in increased traffic to a platform. Part of publishing a well-designed website, and shaping the user experience, is using the right colours. Do the colours suit the brand? For example, do they build trust, relay luxury and create calmness?

A well-chosen colour catches and can retain attention, transforming your campaign from “just another email” to “I want to find out more”. 



Conclusion

At Flume we believe that there is an art to colour psychology in digital marketing that needs to be mastered. Using colours strategically and leveraging colour psychology helps brands connect with their audience and communicate their message effectively. 

With the change of a colour or a shift in a hue, the perception of a brand (and the audience’s resulting action) can be influenced. 

Colour is a powerful tool that makes all the difference. 

 

Want to harness the power of colour psychology to create beautiful work that sets your brand apart in a sea of content 


PS Share this article if you found learning about the psychology of colour as fascinating as we did.

Flume is an independent, full-service digital marketing agency providing services that include SEO, web design and development, public relations, media buying, client service, UX/UI, and creative production. For more information visit www.flume.co.za or email us  to say, well, “hello”.

  • Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Colour Psychology?

    • Colour psychology is the study of how different colours can affect human behavior and emotions. It examines how colours, tones, shades, and hues can evoke certain associations and influence moods and decision-making.
  • How does Colour Psychology impact digital marketing?

    • Colour psychology influences consumer behavior by evoking specific emotions and perceptions. In digital marketing, the choice of colours can drive brand identity, campaign effectiveness, and customer engagement by aligning with the desired brand message and audience preferences.
  • What are the psychological effects of different colours in marketing?

    Each colour has unique psychological effects:

    • Red: Boldness, action, urgency.
    • Orange: Cheerfulness, friendliness, confidence.
    • Yellow: Happiness, motivation, positivity.
    • Green: Peace, growth, health.
    • Blue: Trustworthiness, dependability, strength.
    • Pink: Creativity, imagination, hope.
    • Purple: Luxury, creativity, royalty.
    • Black: Power, stability, sophistication.
    • White: Elegance, purity, simplicity.
  • How do cultural differences affect the perception of colours in marketing?

    • Cultural differences can significantly impact how colours are perceived. For example, yellow represents positivity and joy in Western cultures but symbolizes mourning in Latin American and Eastern cultures. Marketers must understand these nuances to effectively use colours in global campaigns.
  • Why is colour selection crucial for brand identity and consumer engagement?

    • Colour selection is crucial because it can attract and retain consumer attention, influence perceptions, and drive actions. The right colours can build trust, convey luxury, create calmness, and inspire creativity, ultimately determining the success of a marketing campaign.
     
     
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