Colors in marketing and advertising

The psychology of color plays a seriously important role in marketing and advertising, so in this post we will explore how to choose the colors you use wisely, based on your specific marketing and advertising goals.

Tech startup founders and small business owners—and in fact anyone who needs to advertise or market their products or services—needs to master this design area. If you’re doing your own design work it’s essential to understand the basics, but even if you’re working with a professional designer, it helps to have a sense of what you need in terms of color.

By the end of this post, you will understand the basics of the psychology of color, see how it intersects with marketing and advertising and feel comfortable using color to further your own specific marketing and advertising goals.

Color and the way humans perceive it plays a crucial role in marketing and advertising. There’s an entire field of research dedicated to it, in fact! Color psychology is the study of how colors influence human emotions and behaviors. Our reactions to color are based on a complex series of interactions between our cultural background, our family upbringing and our personal tastes.

Consumers have emotional reactions to colors they see in marketing, and those reactions come with specific expectations. Part of those expectations have to do with how appropriate the “fit” between the color and the brand seems to be. We expect to see red and yellow on a sign for Denny’s or McDonalds. But how would we feel if we pulled up to a restaurant for a meal we knew would be hundreds of dollars—the most exclusive dining establishment in the city—and saw a similar red and yellow sign? Cheated in advance, right? That’s a bad fit!

The same reasons cause Americans to mistrust a bank with a bright yellow and orange sign. We also find brown paper packaging super appealing when it’s wrapped around high-end organic coffee or soap. Yet the same paper is totally unappealing when covering bottles of fresh-squeezed juices that look best when they show off their own flashy colors through a clear, unobtrusive label.


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