Connect with us

Branding

The Psychology of Colour in Marketing and Branding

The psychology of colour as it relates to persuasion is one of the most interesting – and most controversial – aspects of marketing.

Gregory Ciotti

Published

on

The-Psychology-of-Colour-in-Marketing-and-Branding_Branding_Marketing

Most of today’s conversations on colours and persuasion consist of hunches, anecdotal evidence and advertisers blowing smoke about “colours and the mind.”

To alleviate this trend and give proper treatment to a truly fascinating element of human behaviour, today we’re going to cover a selection of the most reliable research on colour theory and persuasion.

Misconceptions around the Psychology of Colour

Why does colour psychology invoke so much conversation … but is backed with so little factual data?

As research shows, it’s likely because elements such as personal preference, experiences, upbringing, cultural differences, context, etc., often muddy the effect individual colours have on us.

So the idea that colours such as yellow or purple are able to invoke some sort of hyper-specific emotion is about as accurate as your standard Tarot card reading.

The conversation is only worsened by incredibly vapid visuals that sum up colour psychology with awesome “facts” such as this one:

The colour yellow

Don’t fret, though. Now it’s time to take a look at some research-backed insights on how colour plays a role in persuasion.

The Importance of Colours in Branding

First, let’s address branding, which is one of the most important issues relating to colour perception and the area where many articles on this subject run into problems.

There have been numerous attempts to classify consumer responses to different individual colours:

Colour Emotion Guide

… but the truth of the matter is that colour is too dependent on personal experiences to be universally translated to specific feelings.

But there are broader messaging patterns to be found in colour perceptions. For instance, colours play a fairly substantial role in purchases and branding.

In an appropriately titled study called Impact of Color in Marketing, researchers found that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on colour alone (depending on the product).

And in regards to the role that colour plays in branding, results from studies such as The Interactive Effects of Colors show that the relationship between brands and colour hinges on the perceived appropriateness of the colour being used for the particular brand (in other words, does the colour “fit” what is being sold).

The study Exciting Red and Competent Blue also confirms that purchasing intent is greatly affected by colours due to the impact they have on how a brand is perceived. This means that colours influence how consumers view the “personality” of the brand in question (after all, who would want to buy a Harley Davidson motorcycle if they didn’t get the feeling that Harleys were rugged and cool?).

Additional studies have revealed that our brains prefer recognisable brands, which makes colour incredibly important when creating a brand identity.

It has even been suggested in Color Research & Application that it is of paramount importance for new brands to specifically target logo colours that ensure differentiation from entrenched competitors (if the competition all uses blue, you’ll stand out by using purple).

When it comes to picking the “right” colour, research has found that predicting consumer reaction to colour appropriateness in relation to the product is far more important than the individual colour itself. So, if Harley owners buy the product in order to feel rugged, you could assume that the pink + glitter edition wouldn’t sell all that well.

Psychologist and Stanford professor Jennifer Aaker has conducted studies on this very topic via research on Dimensions of Brand Personality, and her studies have found five core dimensions that play a role in a brand’s personality:

Brand personality

(Brands can sometimes cross between two traits, but they are mostly dominated by one. High fashion clothing feels sophisticated, camping gear feels rugged.)

Additional research has shown that there is a real connection between the use of colours and customers’ perceptions of a brand’s personality.

Certain colours DO broadly align with specific traits (e.g., brown with ruggedness, purple with sophistication, and red with excitement).

But nearly every academic study on colours and branding will tell you that it’s far more important for your brand’s colours to support the personality you want to portray instead of trying to align with stereotypical colour associations.

Consider the inaccuracy of making broad statements such as “green means calm.” The context is missing; sometimes green is used to brand environmental issues such as Timberland’s G.R.E.E.N standard, but other times it’s meant to brand financial spaces such as Mint.com.

And while brown may be useful for a rugged appeal (think Saddleback Leather), when positioned in another context brown can be used to create a warm, inviting feeling (Thanksgiving) or to stir your appetite (every chocolate commercial you’ve ever seen).

Bottom line: I can’t offer you an easy, clear-cut set of guidelines for choosing your brand’s colours, but I can assure you that the context you’re working within is an absolutely essential consideration.

It’s the feeling, mood, and image that your brand creates that play a role in persuasion. Be sure to recognise that colours only come into play when they can be used to match a brand’s desired personality (i.e., the use of white to communicate Apple’s love of clean, simple design).

Without this context, choosing one colour over another doesn’t make much sense, and there is very little evidence to support that ‘orange’ will universally make people purchase a product more often than ‘silver’.

Colour Preferences by Gender

Perceived appropriateness may explain why the most popular car colours are white, black, silver and gray … but is there something else at work that explains why there aren’t very many purple power tools?

One of the better studies on this topic is Joe Hallock’s Colour Assignments. Hallock’s data showcases some clear preferences in certain colours across gender.

It’s important to note that one’s environment – and especially cultural perceptions – plays a strong role in dictating colour appropriateness for gender, which in turn can influence individual choices.

Consider, for instance, this coverage by Smithsonian magazine detailing how blue became the colour for boys and pink was eventually deemed the colour for girls (and how it used to be the reverse!).

Here were Hallock’s findings for the most and least favourite colours of men and women:

Gender Favourite colours

 

Gender least favourite colours

The most notable points in these images is the supremacy of blue across both genders (it was the favourite colour for both groups) and the disparity between groups on purple.

Women list purple as a top-tier colour, but no men list purple as a favourite colour. (Perhaps this is why we have no purple power tools, a product largely associated with men?)

Additional research in studies on colour perception and colour preferences show that when it comes to shades, tints and hues men seem to prefer bold colours while women prefer softer colours.

Also, men were more likely to select shades of colours as their favourites (colours with black added), whereas women were more receptive to tints of colours (colours with white added):

Tints vs shades

The above infographic from KISSmetrics showcases the disparity in men and women’s colour preferences.

Keep this information in mind when choosing your brand’s primary colour palette. Given the starkly different taste preferences shown, it pays to appeal more to men or women if they make up a larger percentage of your ideal buyers.

Colour Coordination + Conversions

Debunking the “best” colour for conversion rates on websites has recently been a very popular topic (started here and later here). They make some excellent points, because it is definitely true that there is no single best colour for conversions.

The psychological principle known as the Isolation Effect states that an item that “stands out like a sore thumb” is more likely to be remembered. Research clearly shows that participants are able to recognise and recall an item far better (be it text or an image) when it blatantly sticks out from its surroundings.

Blurred image

(The sign-up button stands out because it’s like a red “island” in a sea of blue.)

The studies Aesthetic Response to Color Combinations and Consumer Preferences for Color Combinations also find that while a large majority of consumers prefer colour patterns with similar hues, they favor palettes with a highly contrasting accent colour.

In terms of colour coordination (as highlighted in this KISSmetrics graphic), this would mean creating a visual structure consisting of base analogous colours and contrasting them with accent complementary colours (or you can use tertiary colours):

Tertiary colour chart

Another way to think of this is to utilise background, base and accent colours to create a hierarchy(as Josh from StudioPress showcases below) on your site that “coaches” customers on which colour means take action:

Background base accent

Why this matters: Although you may start to feel like an interior decorator after reading this section, this stuff is actually incredibly important in helping you understand the why behind conversion jumps and slumps. As a bonus, it will help keep you from drinking the conversion rate optimization Kool-Aid that misleads so many people.

Consider, for instance, this often-cited example of a boost in conversions due to a change in button colour:

Button colour

 

The button change to red boosted conversions by 21 percent, but that doesn’t mean that red holds some sort of magic power to get people to take action.

Take a closer look at the image: It’s obvious that the rest of the page is geared toward a green palette, which means a green call to action simply blends in with the surroundings. Red, meanwhile, provides a stark visual contrast (and is a complementary colour to green).

We find additional evidence of the isolation effect in a myriad of multivariate tests, including this one conducted by Paras Chopra and published in Smashing magazine. Chopra was testing to see how he could get more downloads for his PDFProducer program, and included the following variations in his test:

Download button colour test

Can you guess which combination performed the best? (Hint: remember, contrast is important.)

Here were the results:

Download colour button results

As you can see, example #10 outperformed the others by a large margin. It’s probably not a coincidence that it creates the most contrast out of all of the examples. You’ll notice that the PDF Producer text is small and light gray in colour, but the action text (“Download for Free”) is large and red, creating the contrast needed for high conversions.

While this is but one study of many, the isolation effect should be kept in mind when testing colour palettes to create contrast in your web design and guide people to important action areas.

Why We Love “Mocha” but Hate “Brown”

Although different colours can be perceived in different ways, the names of those colours matters as well!

According to this study, when subjects were asked to evaluate products with different colour names (such as makeup), “fancy” names were preferred far more often. For example, mocha was found to be significantly more likeable than brown – despite the fact that the researchers showed subjects the same colour!

Additional research finds that the same effect applies to a wide variety of products; consumers rated elaborately named paint colours as more pleasing to the eye than their simply named counterparts.

It has also been shown that more unusual and unique colour names can increase the intent to purchase. For instance, jelly beans with names such as razzmatazz were more likely to be chosen than jelly beans names such as lemon yellow. This effect was also found in non-food items such as sweatshirts.

As strange as it may seem, choosing creative, descriptive and memorable names to describe certain colours (such as “sky blue” over “light blue”) can be an important part of making sure the colour of the product achieves its biggest impact.

Wilmington, Del.,-based Gregory Ciotti is the marketing strategist at Help Scout, the invisible email support software for small businesses. He also writes about behavioral psychology at his blog Sparring Mind.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Claire Brandon

    Jun 2, 2014 at 11:57

    Excellent article. There is still so much ignorance about this. I’ve seen businesses increase their turnover by following the principles you speak about.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Branding

3 Things Taylor Swift Can Teach Entrepreneurs About Reputation Management

Taylor Swift makes certain not one of her fans feels like a number, which is part of why she has more fans than she could possibly count.

Joey Coleman

Published

on

taylor-swift

How do you get customers to notice the release of a new product? If you’re Taylor Swift, you delete your social media history and then drop a video of yourself in a $10 million diamond bath. Although it’s a bit unorthodox, her approach worked.

The “Look What You Made Me Do” video racked up more than 43 million views in 24 hours, according to Variety – crushing the record for views of a debut video. By the time it became available through streaming services, Swift’s Reputation album had already spent three weeks in the Billboard 200’s No. 1 spot.

What made Swift’s album release so massive? She knows her fan base well enough to create exactly the type of hype her millions of followers respond to best. Brands can follow suit by looking for opportunities to get the attention of their own fans.

Related: The Importance Of Business Reputation

Swift’s fans follow her religiously on Instagram, but if, say, General Electric deleted its Instagram posts, few people would notice and even fewer would care. Entrepreneurs should first find out where their customers are and what they care about in order to figure out the best way to get them to take notice.

What’s the customer experience ‘end game’?

taylor-swift-end-gameCustomers want to feel like they matter, but all too often, they end up feeling like little more than a number. This feeling isn’t unjustified. What’s the first thing the typical business does when it gets a new customer? It assigns that new customer an account number.

Swift differs from a typical business by looking at her customers as unique individuals, even though her millions of fans far exceed the number of customers of a typical business. Swift broadcasts general information to all her followers, of course, but she also goes out of her way on an almost daily basis to engage at an individual level with at least some of her fans.

In a world where the bar for the customer experience is so low that even the most skilled limbo dancer couldn’t slide beneath it, the way businesses interact with customers is more important than ever. Businesses often use size to justify their lack of a positive customer experience.

While a start-up can offer customers a personalised interaction at the beginning, many businesses find it difficult to keep individualised attention and care a priority as they start to add more customers and hire more employees. There are ways to keep the focus on customers’ experiences, though, and Swift’s success in doing this at scale offers three great lessons:

1. Stay true to the “customer comes first” philosophy

Never forget that a company’s success grows directly from the relationship with its “fans.” Swift is under no false illusions. The second her fans decide to stop listening to her music, her career is over. This is why she goes out of her way to cultivate her relationship with her fans on a daily basis.

Her Tumblr page is a prime example of how she takes fan engagement seriously, and she uses the platform to interact with fans on a regular basis by following their pages, commenting on conversations and even sending flowers to fans who need a pick-me-up.

The same must be true of every employee in a company. If the people who come into contact with customers don’t understand and share the enthusiasm for creating a remarkable customer experience, the “customer comes first” philosophy isn’t being put into practice on the front lines.

Related: Richard Branson on Building a Strong Reputation

Never forget that customers are a brand’s fans, and they keep companies in business. Every employee plays a role in making customers feel special and appreciated.

2. Forget the old way of doing things

ticketmasters-verified-fan-programmeFor her most recent concert tour, Swift announced a change in how ticket purchasing will work. Rather than follow the traditional “first come, first served” model – which invites bots to snatch up tickets before actual people can purchase them – Swift’s fans will be allowed to compete for a ranking through Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan programme.

In this model, if a fan exhibits increased engagement by signing up for Swift’s newsletter and sharing about her on social media, the fan is able to purchase better tickets to the concert.

Like Swift, constantly be on the lookout for fun and engaging ways to let customers know that their business is valuable. This will take creativity and may require extra effort, but the response from customers will be worth it.

3. Reward raving fans

Many entrepreneurs worry that if they can’t create a remarkable experience for every customer, it would be unfair to do so for any customer. This means that no customer ends up having a remarkable experience.

Related: How Not to Commit Reputation Suicide

Swift refuses to get tied up in such limited thinking. In 2014, she undertook a project to study the social media accounts of a few of her “superfans,” learning what they liked, who they were friends with, where they worked and other personal details.

Swift then went shopping for Christmas (or “Swiftmas,” as it came to be called) gifts for those fans. These exceptional personalised gifts, sent to only a few dozen fans, were seen by the rest of her fan base as an incredible act of kindness. That made them love her even more, even though they weren’t direct beneficiaries of this special treatment.

Showering your best customers with extra love isn’t unfair to the rest. Set the bar for customer experience high across the board, but do something extra special for your most loyal fans. They deserve it, after all, and there’s no better way to convince a customer “fan” base that they really are more than just a number.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Continue Reading

Branding

(Infographic)Top 10 Reasons To Rebrand Your Business

In order to grow, sometimes you’ve got to go back to the drawing board.

Published

on

twix

Businesses often need to rebrand, and it can be a result of many reasons, including international growth, new management, a bad reputation or an outdated image. Whatever the reason, it’s important to create a stellar brand that people will remember.

Because of internationalisation, Raider changed its name to Twix. If you plan to grow internationally, it’s incredibly important to choose a brand name that’s adaptable and appealing to cultures worldwide.

Related: (Video) Three Tips To Read Before You Rebrand

Walmart, known for its low prices, is also a prime example of a major company that wanted to reposition itself in the market. However, instead of changing its name, the company simply changed its slogan from “Always low prices” to “Save money, live better.”

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, he changed Apple’s rainbow logo to a sleek metallic one. Keeping up with trends, changing times and his vision for Apple’s future, Jobs’s rebrand worked well and aligned with the company’s brand of offering minimalistic, contemporary products.

If you’re planning to rebrand your business, it’s important to think about what will help your company grow. To learn more, check out Custom Logo Shop’s infographic below for the top 10 reasons to rebrand your business:

1524235416_reasons-rebrand-business-infographic

Related: 5 Steps To Becoming A More Recognisable Brand

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

 

Continue Reading

Branding

3 Ways To Build Your Brand Identity Using Content Marketing

Can your content pass the ‘logo test’? If not, it’ll be just another one of those generic articles that bombard your target audience each day.

Published

on

brand-content-marketing

Can your company’s content pass the “no-logo test”? When I work with digital strategy clients who are struggling with content marketing, I always ask them to take the logo test, inspired by this excellent Content Marketing Institute article. You should try it, too.

To do that, copy and paste articles you’ve written, along with articles from your competitors, into Word documents. Print out the documents and lay them side by side. Now, can you identify your content from the competition’s without the aid of any logos or company names? If your content lacks a distinct voice and tone, it won’t stand out.

I get it: When you’re first getting started with content marketing, even publishing a blog post every few weeks can feel like a major victory. But once you work out the mechanics of content ideation, you should put in the time needed to create content that brings your brand to life. Why? In a world drowning in digital clutter, content marketing is most effective when you provide a clear, distinct viewpoint that’s beneficial to your target audience.

“Brand voice is the intentional, consistent communication of your business identity,” brand strategist Dima Midon told me in a recent phone interview. Midon, who founded the brand strategy and digital marketing firm TrafficBox, is an expert in all things SEO and search-engine marketing. He also knows that these digital strategies are incomplete without a solid branded content foundation.

“From start-ups to global businesses, the organisations with the best content strategy are those that create content reflective of their brand’s unique personality and then use this content to build stronger relationships with prospects and clients,” says Midon.

Related: Brand And Marketing: Finding The Balance For SMEs

Branded content has exploded in popularity over the last five years. For clients and customers, reading branded content – in general – is far more interesting and relevant than a marketing ad. “Branded” means content that’s informative, interactive and entertaining and brings value to a reader’s day. Thanks to social media, such content can catch on like wildfire, rapidly reaching a far wider audience than a standard marketing message.

Vision, voice, and value: Bringing branded content marketing to life

As the name implies, “branded content marketing” needs to be grounded in your brand’s identity. If your content can’t pass the “logo test,” it will be just another of those generic pieces daily bombarding your target audience. To make your content stand out, bring your brand identity to life with three steps:

1. Define your vision

Your organisation likely has a mission or vision statement, company goals and core values. Consider how the content you create will reflect this mission, goals and values. Then align this vision with your customer’s needs. Every piece of branded content you create should apply your company’s unique perspective and expertise to problems your customers face.

Example? Consider the “Open Forum” American Express sponsors, to provide small business owners with the “insights, inspiration and connections” they need to grow their business. While topics range from money management to team building, every piece of content Amex publishes here is dedicated to advancing its vision of helping small businesses thrive.

2. Define your brand voice

A distinctive, unwavering brand voice is an essential component of successful content marketing. While you may have a very clear idea of your brand’s voice, ask yourself, is everyone else at your company on board with this voice, too? Brands, like people, need to prioritize certain traits, to build a reputation. Scattered messaging and inconsistent brand voice can confuse your audience.

So, take time now to codify brand voice and guidelines. Many B2B companies, for example, seek to strike a balance between professionalism and accessibility. They want to be viewed as subject matter experts without sounding too technical or complex. Consequently, the corresponding brand-voice guideline might emphasise the use of clear, concise language that avoids technical jargon.

Example? MailChimp’s brand voice is a great example of how a B2B company can strike this balance. The company isn’t afraid to show a little personality with the use of cultural references and colloquial phrases its customers can relate to. Consider the clever Sherlock Holmes reference for the website’s 401 error message, below.

10636-11ro51z

Related: 5 Steps To Building Your Personal Brand From Scratch

What’s the secret ingredient that elevates generic content to a brand-building masterpiece? Your brand voice.

Your own brand guide needn’t be lengthy: Voice and tone can be covered by just a few guidelines. (I’m a fan of MailChimp’s voice and tone guide, available free as part of its master Content Style Guide.) What matters most is that you codify these guidelines so there is a single set of rules for everyone working on content at your company. From the work of freelance writers to that of marketing directors, your company’s content marketing will reflect a consistent brand voice.

3. Define your value

Branded content is beneficial not only for defining the buying vision in your favour but also for reminding existing customers about how valuable your offerings truly are. From case studies to white papers, how can you create content that helps existing customers maximise the value of your offerings? Perhaps you can spotlight a new offering or provide tutorials for advanced features. The key is to use your branded content to move from a transactional relationship to a customer-centric one that delivers real value.

Example? The enterprise software company SAP has nailed this mission. While many of its products and services seem technically complex to the average B2B decision-maker, the company’s white papers expertly explain the importance of digital transformation in accessible layman’s terms. Most importantly, this content is never a “hard sell” for SAP, but instead subtly reminds customers about the valuable benefits SAP can present as a strategic partner.

Rather than sending marketing material to customers touting your “top of the line products,” then, send them branded content that explains how to use your products to solve their problems. Content that maximises perceived value strengthens your brand and drives customer retention.

Related: How DJ Dimplez Built His Brand And Business From A Passion

Bottom line

Content marketing is an essential B2B marketing strategy that’s continuing to gain in importance. According to HubSpot, B2B marketers allocate 28 percent of their total marketing budget to content marketing. But before you too jump on this bandwagon, be sure your content is aligned with your brand vision, voice and value. Doing so will ensure your content is impactful, relevant and worth the investment.

 

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

SPOTLIGHT

Advertisement

Recent Posts

Follow Us

Entrepreneur-Newsletters
*
We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.
Advertisement

Trending