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What effect do colours actually have in marketing and advertising?

What effect do colours actually have in marketing and advertising?

Colors are very important in marketing and advertising and should therefore always be chosen consciously. The brain can recognize the characteristics of products and brands through colors. We have compiled a complete guide on how to use colors correctly in marketing and advertising.

What effect do colours actually have in marketing and advertising? 1

The associations our brain makes with certain colors are of great importance in bridging the gap between advertising materials and their target audience. If you look at colors that are commonly used for advertising in an industry, you'll see the same ones pop up over and over again. This is not a coincidence, nor is it a decision maker's favorite colors! These are the colors that (as studies have shown) people associate with their needs and expectations of brands in an industry.

Deciding which colors make up the ideal color palette for your marketing and advertising is part aesthetics, part testing, and part science - a bigger part than you probably realize. Today, we're going to explore the science of marketing colors so you can get messages across as effectively as possible.

Why colours are so important in marketing and advertising

Colours speak a language that words simply cannot imitate. They communicate with us on an emotional level and are therefore more persuasive.

The color of a product can convince us that it tastes fresher than the same product in a different color. It can even make us feel that a drug (and placebos!) work better. Drug companies use color associations and make sleeping pills blue and stimulants yellow or red because these are the colors customers associate with their respective effects.

Although all of this sounds almost like magic, there is data to support it. 85% of customers cite color as the main reason they decided to buy a product. In addition, up to 90% of all impulse purchases are based on solely on the colour of the product. According to scientists who study the psychology of color, form 42% of customers their opinion about websites based on the designs of the pages, with color contributing more to their opinion than any other factor. And in 52% of cases bad color and other poor design decisions will cause users to leave a site and never return.

How colors communicate with buyers

It's one thing to know that colors are important for marketing and advertising, but the real challenge is using color psychology to appeal to buyers. You know the Fundamentals of color theory probably does. After which, for example, red stands for passion and white for cleanliness, but that's just the beginning of all the complicated ways in which color can influence how a buyer thinks and feels about a product.

For example, researchers have found links between certain colors and behaviors, including that red, royal blue, black, and orange easily appeal to impulse shoppers. For bargain hunters, teal and navy blue are the colors of choice. Many of these less obvious color associations make perfect sense, such as pink, sky blue, and other soft colors that connect with more traditional clothing buyers. In a similar way, brown is not a good choice for fruit and vegetable packaging because it makes us think of overripe, rotten fruits and vegetables.

Colours in nature

Color psychology is not just about evoking certain emotions. It's about using colors to meet customers' expectations of products and brands. Think of colors that are bad for certain products or services, like a bright, yellow and orange logo for a bank or a brown or gray box for feminine hygiene products. These colors feel wrong because they don't meet our expectations.

At the end of the day, our expectations are largely rooted in our biological programming. Red is a popular color for food stamps because bright fruits are ripe and edible, just like fresh meat. Nature has taught us what certain colors mean, and in design, it's best to use colors that follow nature's rules. People make buying decisions based on what they expect from the colors they see and whether they feel the colors do what they are supposed to do.

It is not always obvious or logical how colors influence our perception. Our associations with a color can even vary depending on our cultural background, personal background, and individual tastes. But there are general assumptions we can make based on the science of color psychology. When this is combined with target group research, more accurate insights about what customers prefer emerge.

What effect do colours have in marketing and advertising?

Colors can influence buyers and each color has its own list of associations that you can use in your marketing and promotional materials.
Which color now has which influence on your target group?


Blue is usually thought of as a masculine color, but it has more to offer. A few other associations with blue are:

  • Quiet
  • Serenity
  • Refreshment
  • Stability
  • Responsibility
  • Peace
  • Relaxation
  • Sadness

Blue is a popular color for banks because it conveys authority and stability - values that customers expect from people who care about their money. A yoga studio might instead use blue on a flyer to highlight the serenity visitors can experience, and a brand of protective gear like helmets and goggles can use blue to tell customers they can trust the brand.


As a cool color, green is best suited for calm, adult and professional brands. It is known to lower blood pressure and heart rate in viewers. Some of the associations we have with green are:

  • Finance
  • Environment/Nature
  • Health
  • Luck
  • Growth
  • Prosperity
  • Harmony
  • Balance
  • Relief
  • Renewal

Green reminds many people of the recycling logo, making it perfect for any brand that markets itself as eco-friendly or organic. It's also a great choice for a spa because it highlights the soothing, renewing experience customers have on a day at the spa.


Purple is mysterious, enigmatic and sensual - not a color we often see in nature. Common associations with violet are:

  • Adel
  • Luxury
  • Intrigue
  • Magic
  • Mysticism
  • Military honors
  • Prosperity
  • Fantasy
  • Spirituality

Depending on your business, these sentiments can often go hand in hand.

Think wealth counseling that works specifically with veterans and their families to take care of their financial circumstances. A purple brochure alludes to wealth and luxury while reminding readers of the Purple Heart.


Red is an attention-grabbing, vibrant, hot color that is usually associated with the following:

  • Passion
  • Energy
  • Dear
  • Heat
  • Fire
  • War
  • Rage
  • Danger
  • Self-confidence

A dating service that specializes in blind dates can use red on its landing page to highlight that its service is sexy, exciting, and only for the brave. Red is also known to raise the metabolism and blood pressure of viewers, making it ideal for restaurant signs designed to whet the appetite of diners coming in for a bite - especially a spicy bite.


Orange is a friendly and cheerful color that has a few things in common with red, such as warmth and energy. Other associations are:

  • Youth
  • Affordability
  • Vitality
  • Kindness
  • Humor
  • Seasonal changes (especially from summer to autumn)

Orange is a great color if you have an indoor trampoline park that wants to attract kids and teens to have a fun and great time. It works just as well for a beauty brand that is more for the typical girl next door than glamour girls.


Customers associate yellow with optimism and affordability. It has the advantage of being both light and strong at the same time. Some of the basic associations include:

  • Energy
  • Happiness
  • Danger
  • Youth
  • Playfulness
  • Serenity
  • Heat

Notice that none of these associations is like the other.

The association of danger with yellow, just like the association of fire and war with red, can seem negative at first. But sometimes it is exactly these associations that brands need, such as a tool brand that uses yellow to indicate to use it with care.


There's no getting around pink: pink is much more suitable for girls than blue is for boys. That's as far as it goes, that pink can be repulsive to men in certain cases.. There's a lot of psychology behind the color pink and its gender associations, but at this point we're just going to talk about what pink does in the marketing and advertising world. Associations with pink are:

  • Fun
  • Girly
  • Optimism
  • Cute
  • Delicate
  • Romantic
  • Peaceful

Pink is a popular color for bakeries because it's just as cute as the baked goods they sell. It's also the color for brands that are feminine and proud of it, like a women's self-defense teacher who uses pink graphics in her ads to show that she teaches women how to be brave and protect themselves.


Grey stands for professionalism and practicality. You might think grey is boring, and in many cases it is. But grey doesn't have to be boring. With the right marketing strategy, it can also have the following associations:

  • Neutral
  • Professional
  • Efficient
  • Formal
  • Corporate

These are all things that a payroll service provider would highlight in their invoices. Grey can also show that your brand is different from the norm, like the website of a modern children's clothing brand that wants to stand out from the sea of pink and blue.


Black may technically be the absence of color, but is still powerful and striking. These are some of the associations we have with black:

  • Luxury
  • Mysticism
  • Force
  • Formality
  • Elegance
  • Darkness
  • Secret
  • Sexuality
  • Control
  • The Supernatural

Black is mainly cool and modern, but it can be creepy if you want it to be. And for some brands, like suppliers of incense bundles and candles and other occult things, it's eerily perfect. Black also signifies strength, making it a good choice for a gym that challenges its members to be the strongest version of themselves.


White is a blank slate. It is fresh, new, unspent and has the following associations:

  • Cleanliness
  • Purity
  • Blank
  • Simplicity
  • Youth
  • Honor
  • Peace
  • Colourlessness
  • Cold

White is another color whose "negative" associations can be turned into positive ones. As the coldest color that reminds us of snow and the Arctic Circle, white is a great choice for an ice cream truck that wants to emphasize how much it provides relief on a hot day.


Brown is a color you can trust. Braun has your back, Braun has stood by you for years and will continue to do so. For UPS, Braun gets packages to your home safely and on time, and promises that all your shipments will arrive at their destination intact. In marketing and advertising, Braun usually means:

  • Reliability
  • Old Fashioned
  • Earthy
  • Masculine
  • Natural
  • Reliability
  • Warm

Brown can also feel dirty, making it a less good choice for hotels. But for a garden supply store or mulch manufacturer? In this case, a few pictures of dirt can not hurt.

How the meanings of colors differ from culture to culture

Every time you choose a color scheme, you need to think about the cultural background of your target audience. Many colors have certain associations in some cultures that are different from others. Sometimes there can be regional associations even in one country.

Let's take a color - yellow, for example. In Japan, yellow is associated with courage, whereas in parts of the American South, yellow is the color of mourning and death. In China, yellow can have vulgar connotations. In Germany, people turn yellow, not green with envy. In the Middle East, yellow is majestic and sacred (not purple, which is associated with nobility in European cultures) and is often worn by members of the ruling class or royalty.

Whenever you are designing marketing and promotional materials for your brand, it is extremely important to research the cultural associations of your target audience. Using a color scheme that doesn't match your target audience's expectations can doom your brand even before it's on the market.

The best colors for the call-to-action

Red is the best color for a call-to-action because it's all about action and doing something NOW, right? Not necessarily. Although red can be a very good color for your call-to-action (CTA) and is certainly used successfully by many businesses, it is not the only choice for your CTA button - and not always the best either.

Context is important for purchase decisions and sometimes the optimal button color depends on the overall design and the specific brand and product. The right color for your brand's CTA matches the state of mind a customer needs to be in to buy something.

Sometimes this is a calm, clear state of mind that a buyer can only achieve after they've fully explored your product and determined that it's the best choice to meet their needs. In this case, green is a better choice for your call-to-action button, especially if the call-to-action is more like "Book your consultation" or "Let's talk about this in more detail" rather than "Buy now."

Other rules of thumb for a call-to-action are:

  1. The call-to-action button needs to be easy to spot, but not an eyesore; it should complement the overall design of the site, yet contrast enough that people don't have to search for it.
  2. Call-to-action buttons in general and checkout buttons in particular should be large, clean, simple, and set against solid color backgrounds that are not distracting.

If your CTA button is more along the lines of "buy now", warm colors are the best choice. According to color psychology and market research, red, green, and an orangey yellow hue are best for CTA buttons. Red because it triggers urgency in the buyer, green because it is calming and gently entices the buyer to make a decision, and a fiery yellow-orange because it creates a sense of warmth and satisfaction. And finally, you provide satisfaction to the buyer, whether it's through the sheer joy of your product or by solving their problem.

How to test the color strategy for your marketing

Color psychology is helpful in making informed design decisions for advertising and marketing, but only through testing will you know if you're making the right Making decisions.

This requires multiple iterations of A/B testing to determine which color palette is most effective. Once you have your final colors (the colors with no negative associations in the markets you're in and that contrast with each other while communicating your brand identity), it's time for them to face off in a "tournament tree".

A tournament tree is ultimately another word for A/B testing, where you test one color against another to see which one elicits a stronger positive response from your target audience. Then you pit each winner against each other to see which one resonates most effectively with your buyers until you have the optimal color. To avoid skewing your results, make sure the rest of your marketing strategy is consistent throughout the tournament.

Once you've tested everything, you can implement your colors in all your design elements, from CTAs to backgrounds to text.

Colors reinforce your marketing message

I hope you now have a better sense of how color psychology works in marketing and advertising. The more you pay attention to the colors you work with, the easier it will be to convey your unique brand message to your target audience.

Using colors strategically is much more than just picking what you think looks good. After all, there are people out there who think that olive green and magenta are made for each other - and for some businesses and their goals, they might even be!

You want colours that speak for you?

Our designers can create exactly what you need.

What effect do colours actually have in marketing and advertising? 2
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