You’re walking down the street and you see a bright red billboard with orange writing on it. It catches your attention, and you read the words. The billboard is advertising funeral services. Though you can’t put your finger on it, something about the billboard feels strange. Putting it out of your head, you walk away.
Fast forward two months, and your friend asks if you know any places that offer funeral services. Though you remember the red and orange billboard and even the name of that company, you refrain from giving it to her. You don’t want your friend to use that funeral service company.
Is it simply that the red and orange colors on that billboard that made you feel uneasy? Probably not. Most likely, it was the association of these colors with death and loss that felt strange to you.
One of the biggest myths surrounding color marketing is that certain colors make consumers feel a certain way. This is only true to a certain degree. Certain colors do align with broader traits and characteristics, such as red with excitement and black with sophistication. However, this doesn’t necessarily correlate directly with specific consumer responses.
In reality, color is too strongly connected to personal preferences and experiences to elicit specific, emotional reactions in consumers. That being said, color does play an important role in branding and purchasing decisions; just not in the way we think it does.
The way color truly impacts branding is in how appropriately the colors you choose reflect your brand’s personality.
One study showed that the color purple, which is often associated with mystery, royalty and sophistication, was unpopular in industries such as energy and agriculture, but popular in financial services and technology. Meanwhile, the color yellow, often associated with warmth and positivity, was unpopular in the financial services and technology industries, but popular in energy and household goods.
What we can take away from this is that though yellow and purple are associated with general traits and feelings, they do not create particular reactions in consumers everywhere.
There is no list of colors companies can use to increase consumer purchases. Not every company should convey excitement or positivity, and not every company should convey sophistication and mystery. The colors used must be tailored to the message each brand wants to send to consumers.
Going back to the hypothetical example above, using red and orange on an advertisement for funeral services is not only inappropriate, but it also doesn’t convey the tone and message that a funeral services company would want to associate with its brand.
While this example may be extreme, the point it makes is that consumers are unlikely to do business with a brand that they feel cannot convey its message.
Choosing the appropriate colors for your brand’s personality shows consumers that you understand them, the target market, and the industry you’re working in. This creates a sense of trust between consumers and your brand.
Essentially, the bottom line is that when it comes to choosing colors for your brand, there is no formula or magic color. Colors that appropriately convey a brand’s personality and message will make your brand memorable and trustworthy, and translate to more sales.