Colour and the Brain (part 3 of 3) – Which Colours to Use

Posted by on Apr 4, 2017 in Blog Post, Neuromarketing

This is Calm                   This is Passionate                     This is Forbidding 

Do you think the above statements go with the colours they are written in?

Probably not if you are from a Western culture.

If you have read the two previous parts of this 3-part post, you have learned about how our preferences for colours are most likely due to a combination of genetics, life-experience, culture, and immediate environment.  Applying this to your e-marketing campaign can be difficult.

The first thing you need to decide is: 
What cultural groups are part of your target market?

Cultural groups will all have predispositions to certain colours and sets of shared colour relations.  For example in some countries like Brazil, purple is associated with death.  However in Canada, purple may be viewed as representing creativity or femininity.  Further, certain colours may be associated with other brands, politicial institutions, or ideologies. Once you have determined a target culture you need to think about what different colours mean to that culture, what people in that culture may associate colours with, and what modern institutions in that culture use as colours.

The second thing you need to decide is:
What kind of emotions do you want to convey?

A marketing campaign needs to convey feeling as well as information.  For example, if you were a non-profit organization trying to warn people of health risks, putting a warning in faded out purple would probably not convey the feelings you are looking for.  You would probably want to use a colour like bright red, which is associated with passion, and may play to our genetic predispositions for danger (as discussed in previous posts). Similarly, if you are trying to convince people to make an investment, you would probably want to use a colour associated with wealth, which would be green in North America.  The idea here is to use colours that generate emotions and feelings which are favourable to your marketing goals.

The third thing you will have to decide is: 
What kind of colour combinations will benefit your goals?

You can’t make your website or advertisements all one single colour.  So you have to consider what colours to combine, and when to use certain colours.  If you are unsure what colours to use, blue is almost always safe.  As explained in previous posts, all humans have a disposition to blue, possibly due to its relation with clear skies and clean water.  Reds are useful to use when you want to highlight something or make something stand out.  However, red can also make people avoid difficult decisions as explained in part 1, so it should not be used in situations where you want customers to make a difficult choice.  Greens are often good when you want to convince people that your product or service is valuable, or when your product or service is linked to nature.  Yellows, oranges, and bright colours should be avoided unless your product or service is directed towards young children, as they tend not to be associated with professionalism.

Knowing what colours to use can be complicated, and can have profound effects on the success of your marketing campaign.  When you get the right colour combination for your target market, you will actively see a difference in your success.

Copyright A Light in the Rain Ltd. 2017