Color isn’t something most marketers spend a whole lot of time thinking about, but it actually plays a very important role in engagement and conversions – online or offline. The question is, do you know how to properly utilize different colors to move your audience to action?
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The Power of Color
Are you familiar with color psychology? It’s the study of colors as they relate to human behavior. In layman’s terms, it’s the understanding of how different colors make us feel different emotions and, in turn, behave in specific ways.
Color psychology is important in many areas of life – including fashion, interior design, and art – but it’s especially powerful in the context of marketing and branding.
“Choosing the right colors for your marketing efforts can be the difference between your brand standing out from the crowd, or blending into it,” marketing expert Nicole Martins Ferreira writes. “By using colors strategically for your marketing efforts, you can get your audience to see what you want them to see and help them perceive you the way you aim to be perceived.”
Here’s a look at some primary colors and the associations they share:
- Red is known to capture attention. It’s associated with excitement, passion, energy, and action. It can also be linked to danger, however. Brands like Coca Cola and YouTube use red to encourage appetite and excitement.
- Blue is known for being calm, trustworthy, and peaceful. It’s for this reason that brands like Walmart and Facebook use it in their branding and marketing.
- Pink is a color that evokes feelings of femininity, playfulness, and love. Thus, it should come as no surprise that it’s a favorite among brands like Victoria’s Secret and Barbie.
- Orange is an interesting color. It’s known to elicit feelings of adventure, enthusiasm, creativity, and success. Perhaps that’s why companies like Nickelodeon and Home Depot rely on it.
This is just a small sampling – a shallow entry into a rich field of psychological study – but it gives you an idea of how important color is in your brand’s design and marketing endeavors. Based on these insights, you can become more intentional with your decision-making.
3 Tips for Leveraging Color in Brand Marketing
You don’t need a degree in color psychology to be a successful marketer. You do, however, need to be aware of some basic concepts and strategies. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Get Familiar With the Color Wheel
You’ve seen the color wheel before, but have you ever taken time to study it? All of those colors on the circle actually mean something. More specifically, their orientation matters. Here’s a basic primer:
- Complementary: Two colors on the opposite side of the color wheel. This combination produces high contrast and allows each selection to play well off one another.
- Monochromatic. Three shades, tones, or tints of a single base color. This is a very safe and conservative combination, but it also creates a cohesive look.
- Analogous. This refers to three colors that are side by side on the wheel. This typically means there are one dominant color and two accent colors.
- Triadic. Here you have three colors that are evenly spaced out on the color wheel. An example would be red, blue, and green. The combination can be jarring and is designed for scenarios where high contrast is ideal.
- Tetradic. When you have four colors evenly spaced, you get a tetradic color scheme. This color scheme can be difficult to balance unless you have one dominant color and let the others serve as accents.
2. Choose the Right Mix
One of the more effective techniques is the 60-30-10 rule. With this method, you select a primary color followed by two complementary colors.
“Your primary color should take up 60 percent of your poster design, while the two other colors can take the remaining 30 and 10 percent,” Kimberly Mak writes. “You can always add one or two more colors, but the point of this color rule is to follow a hierarchy in your design.”
This is just one mix. There are 40-40-20, 50-25-25, and others. You’ll have to experiment with a variety of combinations until you stumble on the one that’s right for your project or medium.
3. Embrace White Space
Believe it or not, one of the more important elements of color psychology in marketing is the absence of color. We call this white space or negative space.
White space, when properly leveraged, simplifies design and ensures the focus stays on the most important and integral elements of the design. Use it in web design, email marketing, and even advertisements to generate superior results.
Where Color Matters Most
Color matters anywhere your brand is, but you’ll find it’s most impactful when properly leveraged in the following areas:
- Website. Your website is your brand’s digital slice of real estate. It’s your home base – the epicenter of everything else. Even if you have other channels that are more effective, they all tie back to the website in some form or fashion. Embracing the correct color scheme here will make your brand more cohesive across the board.
- Print materials. Digital isn’t everything. Your brand also has print materials that require attention. Printed books, for example, need the right color to move people to action. And the tricky thing about printing is that there’s some degree of finality to it. Once a booklet is printed, you can’t click a button and switch to another color. You’re stuck with it (or you have to pay to reprint). Thus, it’s imperative that you know what you’re doing on the front end.
- Ads. Ads are powerful tools for exposure. Consistent and engaging color schemes will cultivate stronger associations and a greater sense of trust with your audience.
If you really sit down and think about it, there’s no area of marketing that color doesn’t touch. So the sooner you get clear on how your brand can leverage color in an effective capacity, the better off you’ll be.
Success is in the Details
Color seems like such a small detail – and in many ways it is! But if you’ve been in marketing very long at all, you know that success is often created in the details. You can’t accomplish the objectives you want to achieve without refining these smaller elements and blending them together to create something that’s bigger and better than the sum of its parts.
The hope is that this post has armed you with new information and knowledge. But knowledge is only powerful if it’s acted upon. So go out and apply some of the techniques you’ve learned. That’s how you make things happen!