The Psychology of Colours in Marketing

Posted on Posted in All Posts, Design, Marketing

Colours are very influential when people make purchasing decisions, therefore it is very important to use colours in marketing wisely. Particularly in packaging design, colour is one of the most important elements to use. As opposed to copy and shape, it is visible from a greater distance and is therefore vital in attracting customers.

Customers generally make an initial judgment on a product within 90 seconds of interaction with that product and up to 90% of that judgment is based on the colour alone! (study link)

New customers, those with no prior experience with a brand, subconsciously associate the product with certain characteristics based on the colours used. However, the colours have different effects on different people, and it is important to take this into consideration when deciding which colours to use for which market and industry.

Best results are generally achieved when brands intentionally select colours in marketing that help to communicate brand’s personality (i.e. Apple uses white to communicate their love of clean and simple design) and not just to influence purchasing decision based on the colour alone.

Below is a list of most common colours used in branding and their associated meanings.

Red colours in marketing and packaging

RED

Power, excitement, love, energy and passion.

With the longest wavelength, it grabs our attention first, hence its effectiveness in traffic lights. Using red in packaging design draws attention to your product, stimulates the senses and excites the potential purchaser. Dark reds are perceived as professional and luxurious, while bright and orange reds are more energetic and generally of lower perceived value than dark reds. Adding gold or silver decoration increases the perceived value. ​

Blue colours in marketing and design

BLUE

Masculine, corporate, trust, logic and high quality.

Blue is the colour of clear communication. Blue objects do not appear to be as close to us as red ones. Time and again in research, blue is the world’s favourite colour in marketing by both genders. However, it can be perceived as cold and unemotional. The key is to choose the right blue that relates to your specific market and to add other elements to make your product stand out.
Darker blue tones will make the product appear more professional and serious, and lighter blue tones will make it appear more creative and for younger market.

Yellow colours in marketing and design

YELLOW

Optimism, happiness, ideas and friendliness.

The right yellow will lift our spirits and our self-esteem; it is the colour of confidence and optimism. It inspires creativity. Bright, pure yellow is an attention getter, which is the reason taxicabs are painted this colour.
In packaging design, yellow suggests something original and innovative or a fun product. It attracts children and younger generations. Using yellow in packaging is a great fit for products that aim to lift the spirits or bring joy.

Green colours in marketing and packaging

GREEN

Harmony, wisdom, environmental awareness and security.

Green is the colour of nature and it has a strong emotional correspondence with safety. It produces a calming effect and is therefore a great choice to use in packaging healthy and organic products. Dark green implies wealth, luxury and professional quality, while light greens suggest environmentally safe and natural products.

Orange colours in marketing and packaging
ORANGE

Warmth, abundance, creativity and fun.

Orange is a ‘fun’ colour, it combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. It is associated with joy, sunshine, and the tropics. It is passionate and outgoing. 
Orange in packaging design communicates cost effectiveness, fun and adventure. It suggests something different, or an affordable price. While some variants of orange can give the impression of cheapness, enhancing the package with another colour can alter the message and increase the perceived value.

Purple colours in marketing and packaging
PURPLE

Luxury, sophistication, extravagance and quality.

Purple has associations with royalty and usually communicates the finest possible quality. It is also associated with creativity, mystery, and magic. Being the last visible wavelength before the ultra-violet ray, it has associations with time and space and the cosmos.
Using purple colour in graphic design suggests luxury, indulgence, and exclusivity, especially if used with gold or silver elements. Packaging of holistic products and anything to do with spirituality works well with purple. However, using the wrong tone of purple can communicate something cheap, faster than any other colour.

Using pink colours in marketing and packaging
PINK

Femininity, love, sexuality.

Pink represents the feminine principle, and survival of the species; it is nurturing and physically soothing.
Pink packaging design is generally used for products relating to the female market such as cosmetics, fashion and beauty, but also kids toys. Pink is feminine and youthful in its softer shades, with more passion and energy in its deeper shades. To create more sophistication, combine pink with darker colours. Using bright pink colours in marketing tends to imply less expensive and trendy products, which is eye-catching to teens and kids.

Black colour in marketing
BLACK

Sophistication, glamour, security, mystery.

Black is essentially an absence of light, since no wavelengths are reflected. In graphic design it can communicate absolute clarity, with no fine nuances. It communicates sophistication and uncompromising excellence and it works particularly well with white. Black creates a perception of weight and seriousness. When used as a packaging color, it makes products appear heavier, higher end and it can enhance perceived value.
Adding gold or silver to packaging design creates elegance and attract a wealthier market, while adding red creates an adult or sensual connotation. As a rule, the brighter the hues, the less serious the message becomes.

White colour in marketing and packaging
WHITE

Hygiene, clarity, purity, simplicity, sophistication.

To opposite of black which is a total absorption, white is a total reflection, it reflects the full force of the spectrum into our eyes. White is associated with light, goodness, innocence and purity. It is considered to be the colour of perfection.
Using white as a packaging colour can be boring and unadventurous, unless you want to communicate purity, efficiency or simplicity.

Article references:
http://www.johnsbyrne.com/blog/packaging-colors-say-brand/
http://www.colour-affects.co.uk/psychological-properties-of-colours

Need help with using colours in marketing, brand identity and graphic design?

At Sunshine Coast Marketing we have more than 15 years of experience in creating award winning and eye catching packaging design. Contact us today to arrange a chat.

If you enjoyed this post, follow our FACEBOOK page to find out about clever promotional ideas, marketing trends and design tips.