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Colors in Marketing

Let us be up-front on one point: colors and marketing is not settled science. While some basics are considered conventional wisdom, there are many variables. Culture and life experience can affect your opinion on a given color.

However there is a body of evidence to support the idea that we respond to some colors. We will start with red because it is documented and seems the least controversial. Throughout nature and even in your car, bright red means danger or action.

You need to act now - be alert and ready to move. In the example above, we see that most fast-food restaurants pick red and yellow for their colors. These are all multi-billion dollar companies. They have serious experts and phycologist involved in every aspect of marketing; and yet they all seem to arrive at the same conclusion.

Several articles suggest that when a subject is placed in an MRI machine and shown the color red, his brain will light-up. We seem to be wired to act fast when we see the color red.

Staying with our restaurant example, we see if we move up the food chain a bit, red almost disappears. We purposely selected Applebee’s and Red Lobster in this illustration because they had no choice but to use red. Both decided to limit the amount used.

Mid-Level Restaurant Logos

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There are also articles that suggest red must be used with caution. A car buyer will negotiate harder and take a tougher line when purchasing a red car than he will a black one. Sometimes we don’t want our customers to move quickly or be decisive. Black cars are more profitable for dealers.

Special Price

So perhaps we should use red sparingly and only when we need the client to take action, now. Have a special price and want the customer to act this second? Put the price in red.

Another example can be found right on this website: when the site was first created there was a stylish blue button that matched the rest of the buttons that read “Get Tips” on the Home Page. The button had the very best spot on the entire site yet didn’t get the expected clicks.

Simply changing the button to red and adding the words “Click Now” quadrupled the click-through rate for the button. In fact, the difference was so pronounced that it lowered the bounce rate for the entire site by almost 20%! Yes, red is powerful.

Another color that appears to find favor at the highest levels of expert marketing is blue. It is considered the color of competence and trust. Blue is on many national flags to signify truth. It has also been adopted by many big banks for the same reason.

Let’s turn our attention to the car. You need your car to work, it must work. At highway speeds, a failure could be fatal. The breaks must function and the tires cannot suddenly turn in a new direction. An automotive manufacture needs you trust. Even auto-makers with no blue in their logos, like Toyota, will slip some in.

My Image

Here is a quick list for a few other colors:

  • Purple - creative, female
  • Black & White - neutral, formal
  • Green - nature, peace
  • Orange - friendly, cheerful

Should you require help in creating effective use of color in your marketing, may we suggest you can trust people who use blue. Contact Us! :-)

Video Transcript


Originally this video was part of a
Udemy Marketing Course, but I've decided
to make it available for free for you
right here on YouTube. Any time you need
to get ahold of me, all you have to do is
mouse over this picture and click on the
white "I" icon. This time on Marketing to
Tourist, I'd like to talk to you about
the psychology of color. Let's go to work.
The psychology of colors that you may
use in your website is really
fundamental. And in fact in all of your
marketing color is really important.
Different colors on, on almost a primal
level, will tell an awful lot about your
website and will elicit certain emotions.
So you want to carefully consider color
when you're doing marketing. Now, did you
know that the color blue elicits trust
in most people? And if you have a
business that you want to be considered
trustworthy blue is a terrific color for
you to choose. For example; if you have a
car, you need your car to be trustworthy.
You need for it to be reliable. Banks
also use blue in much of their marketing.
So a website that is blue oftentimes
will elicit trust. Green on the other
hand, is life. Of course, it's everywhere
in nature and it is a very soothing
color. So you'll find that certain
supermarkets will in fact rely on green
as their color.Red and yellow are very
primal colors. If you put someone into an
MRI and show them the color red, their
brain will actually light up. It's not a
coincidence that red lights and stop
signs are the color red. And if you think
red and yellow are colors that speed
things up, let me show you something: fast
food restaurants around the world are
major multi-billion euro corporations.
Obviously they're going to have major
marketing departments so it can't be a
coincidence that they all use the same
two, red and yellow colors. Now if all
your competitors are using the same
colors, there's not a thing in the world
wrong with a little food
counter-programming. However, you'll
notice is we go up the food scale these
rules begin to break down. More soothing
colors become common. Indeed Red Lobster
barely uses the color red. Here's
something for you: there's actually been
a study done that shows children will
eat yellow skittles last. Now earth tones
will show Authority, so if you want to
make people believe that that you're a
real authority figure, use a certain color.
In fact some of the earth tones are very
good. Women by the way, are attracted to
the color purple; and in fact I have
built purple websites exactly for that
reason. You'll also find that women are
attracted to pastels more than the
brighter colors that many men are
attracted to. We mentioned before that
purple is popular with women. Purple also
is used to denote creativity and wisdom.
By the way high-contrast colors are
shown to work better in marketing. As you
know, Walmart is the world's largest
retailer so it's safe to assume these
guys know exactly what they're doing. As
we scroll down the page, notice where
your eye falls. What is your eye attracted
to? Its those little red Rollback accents.
And that's not a coincidence, they're
using red as an ornament to draw your
eye. Now red doesn't always work the best,
in this particular example, it's more of
a salmon color but it's outperformed by
two to one against the blue. Now I'm
going to show you how you can do an A/B
test, or split test, on your own. However
that's in a different video on google
analytics. First let's try one last
example: This happens to be from my
personal website. I was having a lot of
trouble with this page: My Homepage.It
wasn't converting. People were bouncing.
Here's another page inside the website;
notice the get tips button? Very stylish,
it matched my menu bar but back on the
Homepage, it really wasn't driving people
in deeper to the site. They were bouncing.
They were going away. All I did was add
click here, change the button to red, and
it changed my conversion rate. Speaking
of colors there's a website I would
recommend to you: colour
lovers dot-com. It's an English website
and they will be very helpful in helping
you choose colors that will actually
complement each other and go together. By
the way, kids don't seem to have a
different color preference from most
adults. And research also shows that
across cultures there seems to be very
little difference between color
preferences. I hope some of this was
helpful for you and of course as always
you're welcome to get a hold of me. I'll
see you soon...

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