Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all use blue within their logo and branding – have you ever wondered why that is? It’s all to do with the psychology of colour.
Colours can create feelings and emotions in our minds when we see them. We might be consciously aware of it at the time, we all know that red represents danger for example and know to be alert when we see a red road sign. But colours can work on our subconscious minds too, creating feelings so subtle that we don’t even realise they’re there.
Colour has the ability to influence people
Each and every colour can create a different response and encourage us to think about the brands associated with that colour in a certain way. Blue, as used by Facebook and others, is associated with reliability, security and stimulating productivity; so, we can see how social media platforms would want us to feel that way about their apps. We can also see how this fits with the NHS which also uses blue, it makes us feel safe and secure.
This is why branding is so important to a business, even a small one. The colours you use in your marketing materials can create responses in those that see them, intentional or otherwise, so being aware of what each colour represents and if that matches your business and vision is vital.
I was drawn to choosing purple when I created my brand. It has the meaning of compassion and I am a really compassionate person both in my business and my personality. Purple also represents strength and creativity which fits me as I gave up a good job to start my business that requires creativity!
The meanings of colour
I want to give you a brief run through of the feelings and emotions that each colour can create so you can consider which one might be the best fit for your business.
Black technically isn’t a colour, it absorbs light because there is no colour creating the black effect (there’s your random fact for the day!) Black is a strong colour indicating intelligence, confidence, stability and authority. It can quickly get overpowering though, which is why it’s seldom used in marketing unless there is another colour to balance it out well – Nike is a good example of this with the black and white used together.
Blue is all about trust, reliability and security. It’s often used by accountants, lawyers and companies eager to get across that they can be trusted with your important affairs. Blue is also associated with water, tranquillity, and peace and is often used by spas, beauty providers and counsellors too.
Green is about health, nature and power. It’s considered to be a calming colour that promotes the feeling of relaxation and tranquillity. Green is used by a range of companies to promote the idea of relaxation such as Starbucks, Holiday Inn and even Heineken! Agricultural companies and those working with the land will also commonly use green.
Grey is often seen as a negative colour representing depression, feeling worn out and uninspired, so it’s very rare to see it used as a colour in marketing. Lexus is a brand that does use grey and for them it represents luxury and stability but consider that you’re only going to buy a car once in a while, so customers aren’t going to be interacting with their marketing materials often. So, a colour to be used sparingly, I think.
Orange and Yellow
I’ve put these two together as they evoke the same kind of emotions. Orange and yellow are colours we associate with the sunshine so they’re cheerful and optimistic. They represent vitality, adventure and enjoyment.
However, these are colours you’ll seldom see companies use as they can also create some negative feelings too. Orange means caution – that’s why we have it on our traffic lights, “be careful, they’re about to change”. Yellow is also associated with fear and cowardice.
Representing creativity, strength, wisdom and respect, Purple has been associated with royalty for centuries. It’s a bold and strong colour often used by marketing companies. Purple is also used by a range of small businesses who use a purple shade like lilac to represent the feminine nature of their business without opting for pink! Lilac itself can mean spirituality, youthfulness and helpfulness.
Red is all about creating feelings of urgency – which is why it’s often used for sales-based marketing. As a sense of urgency can evoke physical changes as well as emotions in us, think your heartbeat raising and blood pressure going up as you get ready to take urgent action, red is often used to represent movement, excitement and passion. Red also stimulates the appetite, which is why it’s often used by fast food chains and restaurants too.
The colour white is about a clean slate, a fresh start as it’s clean and pure. It’s a minimalist colour that denotes safety, neutrality and even creativity. Subway and Lego use white to get across the “clean slate, do things your way approach” whether you’re creating your own sandwich or building a new brick-based project.
How to use colour effectively in your marketing
Your first step in any marketing campaign is to decide on your call to action – what do you want people to do? Then, you consider how you get people to be in that position to buy. This is often a multi-step process of identifying the problem they’re having and then highlighting your business as the best way for them to resolve that problem.
Colour can be used alongside the copywriting and imagery in your marketing, to evoke the thoughts and feelings you want your customers to feel when considering you as the way of solving their problem. So, if they are stressed out about their bookkeeping and need an accountant, blue can be used to evoke feelings of trust in that business, reliability they’ll get the job done and safety of knowing the accounts are taken care of and HMRC will be happy.
There’s a lot to learn about colour psychology, so I hope this brief blog has given you a basic idea of how colours work in marketing and how you might be able to use them to good effect in your own business.
As always, if you need any marketing advice don’t hesitate to contact me here at Saxton Marketing.