How Color Selection Can Give You a Marketing Edge

We all know that marketing is about more than just what you say – it’s about how you say it and how they see it. As you’re crafting a brand identity or new campaign, it’s important to look beyond language and craft a complete strategy to help you accomplish your marketing goals. Messaging matters, but sometimes, you can affect your audience before they ever read a single word. 


For the ultimate marketing edge, combine color and copy into a cohesive campaign that will attract the attention of your target audience. Color plays a huge role in marketing – in fact, the psychology of color is one of branding’s most powerful tools. Take a look at what research has uncovered about the effect colors have on our minds. 


  • Red is often associated with passion – in fact, it’s been proven to increase heart rate and blood pressure readings in its viewers! This is why you’ll often see red in sale signs or limited time offers. It’s known to bring on a sense of urgency and energy, which can be a good thing, but keep in mind that it’s also often used to indicate danger or warnings. The color red conveys a sense of power, strength, boldness, and energy. Brands like Verizon, YouTube, Netflix, Puma, and Lego use red as their primary color.
  • Green reminds viewers of growth, bringing a calming presence that reminds them of nature. It also indicates safety, which is why a green light tells us it’s safe to move forward on the road. It’s common to see this used in the health and wellness industry or a brand that makes eco-friendly products. like Whole Foods, Seventh Generation, Starbucks, . The color green conveys feelings of calmness, friendliness, and trust and is used by brands like Whole Foods, Starbucks, Seventh Generation, BP, Tropicana, and Spotify. This color also represents wealth, nature, life, harmony, growth, and newness.
  • Yellow grabs everyone’s attention right away, which is why you’ll see it used in caution signs and transportation vehicles (think buses or taxi cabs). It’s been shown to increase bodily metabolism, and it’s very energetic, which means it can be highly effective and exciting when it’s used correctly, but can be harsh on the eyes if it’s overdone.  The color yellow is often associated with feelings of cheerfulness, originality, swiftness, and friendliness. Brands whose customers are looking for fun, optimistic, youthful, illuminating and quick interactions may want to lean into this color. Yellow has been known to stimulate the logical side of the brain and promote mental clarity. Some brands who use yellow as a primary color include Snapchat, McDonald's, Ferrari, Post-it, Cheerios, and DHL.
  • Blue tops the “favorite color” charts, regardless of demographic, so you’ll see it incorporated into all kinds of brands. Various shades of blue can actually evoke a wide range of emotions, from royalty to calmness, but blue is most known for promoting trustworthiness and reliability. This is why it is often seen in the finance and healthcare spaces by brands like Chase, American Express, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Goldman Sachs, Oral-B, Bank of America, and PayPal. 

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Although general color psychology can be incredibly helpful as you begin to design a brand identity or ad campaign, it’s important to remember these sentiments are not universal. Your audience may react very differently to a color selection based on their demographics and experiences. When you’re considering your color selections, here are four key details to keep in mind. 


Your Target Audience

Before you select your brand colors, get clarity about who your brand is for. There’s a fairly significant disparity between men and women about favorite colors, for instance – over 50% of men chose blue as their favorite color, followed by green and black, while only 1 in 3 women chose blue, with many opting for purple or red as their top choice. It’s also interesting to note that color preferences shift from generation to generation


Cultural differences also play a prime role in how a color is perceived. Take red, for example – history, religion, and location make a huge difference in how this is perceived. Here in the United States, red may be used in an ad for Valentine’s Day, evoking love and passion, or Christmas, to bring some festive flair. In India, though, red is seen as the color for purity, and in China, you’ll find it symbolizing luck during the Chinese New Year. 


No color is universally good or bad from a marketing standpoint – it just brings up different associations for different groups. When you know who you’re marketing to, you can make the best color choices for your specific campaign or brand.  


Your Brand Archetype

As you craft campaign messaging that resonates with your target audience, make sure you’re staying true to your own brand, too. Brand archetypes are a great way to find your niche in the marketing space, determining what kind of brand you are, and what kind of client will be drawn to you. 


For example, if you’re an Outlaw brand, you don’t mind breaking the rules a bit, even with color psychology – you love drawing outside the lines, and your dream clients will, too. Using bright orange like Harley Davidson or bold red like MTV are a perfect fit for you. On the other hand, if you’re a Caregiver brand, like Huggies or Unicef, you might draw on cool, calm tones that show how much you care for and support your audience. Knowing your archetype gives you a lot of branding power to wield well. 


Your Industry & Competitors

Similarly, it’s important to consider what industry your brand falls into and what colors in your industry may already be saturating the market. If you’re in the finance space, you likely want to be associated with wealth and trustworthiness – a blue color or possibly a deep purple will do the trick. If you’re a kids’ brand, bright and fun colors like yellow or red (Crayola or LEGO, anyone?) will bring the energy you need to get little hands grabbing your product off the shelves. It's important to understand your differentiation strategy to know if it's necessary for you to distinguish yourself from competitors through the use of color. If you want to set your brand apart from competitors, you may choose a contrasting shade of a certain color, or even choose a color and brand personality that targets a specific subset of your target audience and sets you apart from competitors.


Your CTA

Finally, if you’re choosing colors for a specific campaign rather than your overall brand identity, keep your call to action in mind. Are you slashing prices for a limited time? A red “Buy Now” button is a great way to instill that sense of urgency. But even more important than the color of your action request is the overall complementary scheme. If your brand is red, then you won’t want a red CTA button – it loses its star power when it doesn’t stand out! Instead, opt for a complementary color that will grab attention and convert into sales. 


Need help crafting your brand identity or creating a surefire marketing campaign? We can help. Redstory exists to create powerful and emotional connections between brands and people, and we’d love to get your brand in front of the right audience. 


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