There’s a reason why Brands such as Rolls Royce, Rolex, and Cartier use a lot of blacks, greys, and beiges.
These tones have a colour psychology trigger of luxury and wealth.
Moreover, that is the image that these brands want to portray.
Then there is Lego — a company whose brand is targeted to kids — its colours are all primary, bright ones that have a psychological appeal to fun and energy.
They understand the impact that colour can have on consumers as they consider purchases.
How Colour Psychology Affects the Brain
The response to colour is an emotional one, controlled by several parts of the brain, collectively known as the limbic system.
The Amygdala controls many emotional responses, including love, anger and fear.
The Hippocampus sends information to the Amygdala, based upon a person’s memory.
The Prefrontal Cortex makes decisions based on responses to emotions.
The Hypothalamus sends information to the Amygdala and functions as a regulator of emotion, controlling levels of excitement.
Dopamine pathways are located in the ventral tegmental area of the brain.
This neurotransmitter controls mood and levels of pleasure.
When people respond to colours, all of these parts of the brain are involved.
They connect a colour with their memories and personal experiences and according to the cultures in which they have lived.
There are, however, some generally accepted concepts that colour does impact emotions, and that feelings do impact behaviour.
For this reason, brands and marketers are particularly aware of the colours they use — on their website, in their logo design, and on all of their marketing materials.
They are aware that sales are based on emotions and on the general feelings that are aroused by colours and use that knowledge to promote sales.
General Colour Tips
The first key to the use of colour psychology is to analyse the type of product you have and the type of audience to which you are appealing.
Luxury products will be marketed to a wealthier more sophisticated audience.
Yard games will be marketed to a less sophisticated, active audience.
Financial institutions may market to a wide audience range.
There are also gender-specific colour preferences.
These all have significant implications for colour.
Numerous charts and graphs attempt to relate specific colours to emotions, and they are indeed somewhat useful.
Here is one example:
These comprise relatively sound depictions of the emotions that colours evoke, at least in western society.
It should be noted, however, that in Eastern cultures, there are different cultural responses to colours.
While white may mean purity and innocence in Western culture, it connotes death in eastern cultures.
Anyone who is considering localisation of websites and marketing materials in other parts of the world should conduct research and consider colour changes based on those cultures.
General Tips in the Use of Colour Psychology
Yes, there are differences in colour preferences by gender.
Women seem to like blue, purple, and green, as well as more pastel shades of colours.
Thus, online magazines, female clothing sites, etc., tend to focus on these colours.
Men seem to prefer blue, green and black.
However, do not take this generality to the bank just yet.
Many masculine-focused websites are using colours the brown and orange and doing fantastic business.
Check out the Dollar Shave Club site, for example.
Its rustic theme works.
Blue is what might be called a “universal” colour — one that may appeal to all age groups and demographics, in a variety of shades.
Many marketers use blue because it evokes trust and intelligence.
There’s a reason why Facebook uses so much blue.
Green often evokes feelings of money and wealth but also healing and fertility. Many websites use green.
Regions Bank is a typical example.
Sites like TreeHugger and Recycle Now also sport much green.
Orange is often emotionally associated with sunshine and joy.
However, it also evokes feelings of success and confidence.
Sports teams often use various shades of orange (red-orange, bright orange, yellow-orange).
Some neuroscientists state that this colour can increase the blood supply to the brain.
However, it also evokes feelings of success and confidence.
The professional dissertation writing service OkDissertations.com, for example, uses an orange background for its landing page.
Note how the logo of United Way incorporates orange into its logo, especially the figure with raised arms — a symbol of success.
Colour psychology associates Purple with wealth and royalty.
Because it is not often found in nature, purple dyes were rare in earlier times.
Those who could afford to have clothing made of purple were wealthy.
Today, it also denotes wisdom and sometimes spirituality.
Consider the famous Hallmark logo design:
The goal here is apparent: consumers should see Hallmark as the “royalty” in greeting cards.
Cadbury, the famous chocolatier in the UK also has an image to portray — the most beautiful chocolate in the kingdom.
Its website is filled with purple.
Red is the colour of high energy, power, and strength, although it can also depict anger and danger.
Websites with products for kids, such as Lego, use much red, along with other bright primary colours.
However, there is probably no other company that better depicts power, strength, and energy than Red Bull, from its logo to its website.
Colours of Wealth, Luxury, Sophistication
Looking at the websites of Rolex, Lamborghini, Cadillac, Gucci, and Cartier, you will see a lot of black, gold, and silver.
Black is associated with power, formality, sophistication, and elegance, although it can also evoke emotions of depression and evil.
Companies that do not offer products and services that are pricey and sophisticated should limit their use of black.
Gold has always been associated with wealth and luxury, while silver can depict the same, as well as grace and sleekness.
In daily life, yellow often has the colour psychology of caution — yellow stoplights, wet floor signs, etc.
However, it is also the colour of sunshine and can evoke emotions of joy and happiness and optimism.
It is a colour that is used a lot to grab attention, to depict happiness on sites with kids’ products.
Bright yellow is a great highlight colour to grab attention.
As mentioned, in Western society, white is most often associated with purity, cleanliness, innocence, goodness, and simplicity.
Most websites and marketing materials use white space to separate important content and to help to give substance, especially sites, a sleeker appearance.
However, it is often used to promote products that marketers want to portray as pure and safe.
The healthcare field often uses white.
The official site of United Health Care is a prime example.
It is composed entirely of blue and white — blue for trust, white for goodness.
Colour Advice By Sector
Some colour analysts do try to recommend specific colours for specific business niches:
Yellow for food and drink, entertainment, children and child services (e.g., daycare).
Red for sports, entertainment, some fashion and cosmetics.
Green for sciences, financial services, tourism, and environmental organisations.
Blue for financial institutions, government, and organisation that rely on consumer trust.
Purple for spiritually-related and spirituality sites — tarot, astrology, Yoga, but also for a prestige.
Orange for sports, entertainment, and education.
Black for luxury products, especially cars, accessories, fashion
White for healthcare and medicine, high-tech, charities.
It’s important to note that colour psychology is not an exact science.
It isn’t because individual colour tastes vary so widely.
Consider, for example, the vast array of colours and hues of clothing, furnishings, and other everyday items that consumers purchase, based on their individual tastes in colour.
Still, there are some general psychological triggers that specific colours do evoke, and designers and marketers should take note of these as they craft websites and marketing materials.
Moreover, the use of bright, contrasting colours for CTA buttons has been shown to be effective.
The best thing that business owners can do is to understand their audiences and to test the use of colour psychology to determine which have a better response concerning conversions.
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Inkbot Design is a Creative Branding Agency that is passionate about effective Graphic Design, Brand Identity, Logos and Web Design.
Originally published at inkbotdesign.com on June 11, 2018.