Colour psychology – what different colours mean in business and advertising

When developing your brand, the colours you choose to represent your business are an integral part of helping to outline how your customers should feel. Typically, colours work subconsciously and for the most part, we don’t normally feel their direct effects. That’s not to distract from their importance though.

Below is a rough guide on what different colours mean in business. Of course, this will vary within shades of each colour, but as a general rule, the below will apply most of the time.

Red is a warm, positive physical colour that draws attention to itself. It stimulates (especially appetite) so is a great colour to use if your business relies on your customers making impulse decisions. However, used in excess it can be overbearing.

Common associations with the colour red – Action, power, energy, passion, desire, strength, motivation, drive, warmth, assertiveness and confidence.

Tips when working with red – best used as an accent colour, as too much red can overwhelm. It will elicit a passionate response from most people, so ensure that is the kind of passion you want to work with. Red is a great eye-catching colour that can be used to direct attention (such as arrows or call to action buttons).

Orange is the colour of flamboyance and passion, it is commonly associated with adventure, confidence and sociability. Orange inspires, vitalises and creates enthusiasm. Orange can also give the impression of affordability.

Common associations with the colour orange – are the adventure, stimulation, affordable, warmth, sociable, cheerful, creative, agreeable and informal.

Tips when working with orange – Orange works well as an accent colour, but too much orange can cheapen the look of a product. In a social environment, orange helps to stimulate conversation and engagement.

Yellow is a joyful, energetic colour often associated with cheerfulness. It’s optimistic, illuminating and brightening. It’s often associated with logic and mental clarity as well as originality and new ideas.

Common associations with the colour yellow – are hope, happiness, playful, optimism, logic, confidence, creativity, challenge, wisdom, communication and speed.

Tips when working with yellow – as yellow is a vibrant and exciting colour associated with speed and promptness it’s often used in combination with red in fast food establishments as it encourages quick prompt decisions and will subconsciously prevent people from lingering. Yellow is also a good colour to use with point of sales advertisements, as eyes will easily focus on yellow.

Green symbolises growth, and vitality and is often associated with new life and renewal. It portrays a sense of harmony and balance, creating a sense of calm.  Green is often tied in closely with nature, health, healing and the environment.

Common associations with the colour green – fresh, growth, vitality, renewal, dependable, practical, nurturing, adaptable, loyal and kind.

Tips when working with green – Green is a particularly versatile colour that’s perfect when portraying a sense of growth, nature or health. While green often symbolises environmentally friendly products it can also be used to encourage the perception of being new and exciting.

Blue is an incredibly safe colour and is favoured by many companies around the world. It portrays a sense of trust, and dependability which therefore helps to build a sense of customer loyalty. Blue exudes confidence, reliability and responsibility. Blue can also help illustrate a sense of calm of being in control.

Common associations with the colour blue – are loyalty, trust, integrity, reliability, responsible, order, authority, peace and calm.

Tips when working with blue – blue will help your customers trust your business and create a sense of calm, order and connectivity, which is why it’s so common with IT businesses and social media networking.

Purple is the colour of extravagance, fantasy and dreams which is why it’s often associated with royalty. Purple heightens people’s sense of beauty and reaction to creative ideas and innovation.

Common associations with the colour purple – individual, creative, inventive, royalty, expensive, futuristic, premium, individual and mysterious.

Tips when working with purple – purple is perfect when working with high quality, premium products. It portrays a sense of wealth and exclusivity. With purple being such a rich and deep colour, it’s easily distinguishable.

Pink is a colour strongly associated with compassion, love nurture and romance. It represents youth, passion and energy. Pink is inspiring, calming and non-threatening.

Common associations with the colour pink – are love, compassion, understanding, nurture, warmth, hope, sweetness, innocence and inexperience.

Tips when working with pink – pink is used commonly when marketing to females, however, it’s also used by companies that want to portray a sense of warmth, understanding, hope and intuition. Pink can also reflect a sense of sweetness.

Black is the colour of authority, power and control. In some situations it can be intimidating, however, in the business world it normally comes across as sophisticated, dignified and serious. Black also carries an air of mystery and secrecy.

Common associations with the colour black – are authority, power, protection, strength, formal, sophisticated, seductive and mystery.

Tips when working with black – the colour black is perfect when selling luxury, elegance and sophistication. This includes high end and premium products. Black can also help products and services feel more expensive and luxurious.

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