The role of colour in communications

There are many schools of thought around colour psychology and the use of colour in communications. And while colour certainly influences emotions, research suggests that colour is too dependent on personal experiences to be universally translated to specific feelings.

Influences such as personal preferences, experiences, upbringings, cultural differences, and context all have varied influence over how individual colours have on consumers.

But let’s look at how the three primary colours red, blue and green work in the mind of consumers.

RED

Red is a powerful colour and is generally believed to attract attention better than other colours. This is why it is used in warning signs, fire engines, stop signs and such. It is the universal colour that signifies power, courage and strength.

It can create strong and somewhat extreme emotions. Anger, danger, love and passion are often associated with red. Roses, Valentine’s Day and heart images are nearly always portrayed in shades of red. Red is energizing and exciting and motivates us to act, which may explain why people feel more confident driving red sports cars.

It is a vibrant and stimulating colour, with strong attention-raising power. It’s why red is used at point of sale, particularly in large banners and signs, as it pushes people to make fast decisions that result in impulse purchases.

BLUE

Blue is almost the opposite of red and has an entirely different effect on our brains. It is the colour of trust, peace and serenity and has a calming effect, reducing tension and fear, while slowing the pulse rate and reducing appetite. It is associated with honesty and security.  It is sincere, reserved, and quiet, inspiring wisdom and higher ideals. It is a cool colour and creates a sensation of space.

Blue is the most universally favoured colour of all and the safest to use in business. As it relates to trust, honesty, and dependability, it helps to build customer loyalty. Blue portrays authority which is why it is so often used in the corporate world. Male politicians and senior executives wear navy suits and blue ties to try to portray an image of calm authority, trust and reliability.

GREEN

Green reflects nature, freshness, clarity, balance and growth. It is restful and secure and is used to symbolise harmony, healing, and stability. In marketing it is used to signify environmentally-friendly, eco-safe, chemical-free and other terms to reflect an organisation’s products don’t contain harmful chemicals and substances.

It is used heavily in food colouring and packaging, health services, medical uniforms, spa treatments and anything promoting products as organic, healthy, natural and safe. Green also represents security and self-reliance. Darker greens relate to money, wealth and prestige, which is why financial services use it, as it is the colour of the global currency – the US dollar. Lighter shades of green relate to rebirth, freshness and growth. But too much green can lead to feelings of envy, greed, jealousy, and selfishness.

The chart reveals the different emotions associated with different colours, which are worth considering when designing your marketing communications.

Malcolm Auld
https://www.linkedin.com/in/marketingmal/

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