The Psychology of Colour in Marketing

By / May 25, 2017 / / 0 Comments

The Psychology of Colour in Marketing

By / May 25, 2017 / / 0 Comments

With spring in the air and colours popping up everywhere, have you ever stopped to wonder what the true meaning of colour is? It’s a conversation piece in itself, with lots of psychology determining and conditioning our human responses. Although colour is a very personal experience, studies show that there are certain patterns in colour perception that can play a substantial role in swaying our attitudes and responses. Colour is no longer merely a matter of aesthetics but rather a tool for online marketers to increase conversion rates through a scientific approach. Let’s break down the colour code together!


According to Quick Sprout, 90% of our product assessment judgments have to do with colour, and colour is the primary reason for a purchasing decision in 85% of cases. As a result, your choice of colour can have a huge impact on your conversion rate. Choosing colour schemes wisely is critical to online marketing as it helps steer people in a certain direction. This point is clearly outlined by Satyendra Singh, whose thesis Impact of Color on Marketing highlights how people tend to make up their minds within 90 seconds of their initial interaction, whether with a person or product. Furthermore, 62% to 90% of an assessment is based on colour alone. Clearly, colour comprehension can shape positive or negative responses.


The relationship between brands and colour can be viewed in light of perceived appropriateness. In essence, this refers to whether the colour “fits” with what is being sold. It’s all about choosing the “right” colour for the brand. But how does it work? According to psychologist and professor Jennifer Aaker from Stanford University, brand personality can be broken down into five core factors: sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication and ruggedness. Colours are no different: they too can be categorized by their specific traits (e.g., red for urgency, orange for optimism and purple for wisdom). However, when defining the role of colour in branding, most academic studies conclude colour should be in a supporting role, helping define the personality of the brand rather than sticking to stereotypical associations. In this way, colour takes on an interpretative role, creating a feeling or mood in support of the brand.


Looking at your targeted audience and the role gender plays are important considerations when developing colour schemes. Cultural and environmental backgrounds play significant roles in dictating men’s and women’s colour preferences. According to Joe Hallock’s work Colour Assignment, there is clear evidence for gender-based colour trends. Men tend to prefer bolder colours while women lean towards softer tints. These different colour tastes hint that a more scientific approach is required when choosing colour palettes in order to achieve the desired response rates.


This psychological principle states that when an item sticks out from the rest, it is more likely to be remembered. Research proves that when something is more visibly showcased, it is more likely to be recalled. The use of colour plays an essential role in highlighting certain information that has to stand out and creates a hierarchy of information. By creating a complementary colour scheme, people are discreetly guided in their experience and encouraged to take certain actions. This method is based on coupling primary colours with contrasting complementary accents. For example, using a separate colour for a call-to-action button and making it stand out from its environment draws focus to the desired action. A similar but reverse technique involves using more passive colour approaches to ensure elements blend in with their surroundings and are therefore treated as secondary in importance. Either way, colour is a decisive factor in determining the subsequent action.

The upshot? Although colour is quite subjective in feeling, the psychology behind it is not so black and white! Colour is more complex than meets the eye and deserves serious thought.



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