The psychology of color in marketing has been an ongoing one steeped in controversy for decades, and whether the platform is through digital marketing, or print display, the squabbling continues. Skeptics argue that color used as a vehicle for persuasion hinges on hunches, anecdotal proof, and marketers throwing up smoke and mirrors to create an illusion genius. Yet others (including various respected academic bodies) swear there is a method to this madness. Before we delve into how color may impact consumer behavior, let’s first look at the history of color to understand its impact on the conscious, and subconscious level.
A Glimpse at the History of Color
We can go as far back as ancient Egypt to see color used to convey messages, and back to Greece to notice the impact color had on human beings. Philosophers like Aristotle, Democritus, and Roman thinker Pliny the Elder went into great detail to describe the recipes and processes for making fabric dyes–colors that came to mean a number of things both on the battlefield, and simply walking down the street. In Victorian literature, color was very symbolic. For example, in A.E.Coppard’s ‘The Field of Mustard’ the collor yellow is heavily associated with the disappointment in the two women’s lives (a message on women’s politics) and in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, yellow is used to enhance the horrific, patriarchal, oppressive existence women were trapped in. While yellow is more commonly associated as projecting a feel of joy and sunshine, it was once used to convey turmoil, imprisonment, sickliness and death (the color yellow was once flown by old tall ships to warn others they were carrying the plague on board).
Color and Conversion
A number of comprehensive studies in both the psychology and business marketing world have shed light on some interesting data supporting the idea that color impacts consumer behavior. In the study ‘Impact of Color on Marketing’ by Satyendra Singh, researcher discovered that more than 90% of snap judgements about products and services were based on their color, or the colors used in the copy. Brand perception is also said to be driven in part to color according to the study ‘Exciting Red and Competent Blue’ published by the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science.
How Color Translates into Influence Via Digital Marketing
There are four primary reasons why consumers buy a product or pay for services:
- Brand Loyalty on name alone
- A personal connection is formed with the branding (compulsory, ego, personal)
Unless you are the CEO of Nike or another globally recognized brand, people are going to need reasons to buy your products that extend far beyond your brand name. Working with a digital marketing agency that offers web design can give consumers convenience. Creating web content that gives the right kind of information and that is optimized for SEO, combined with an easy one-page checkout system, is all part of a digital sales funnel that leads to transactions, and when the product itself makes life easier, you have the convenience factor covered. Price your products competitively while showing value, and you will be able to nail down the right pricing. The real trick to running a successful business online is forming those personal connections while tapping into the buyer’s psyche to dredge up a desired action, such as making a purchase, or downloading your asset. Given the studies that have come forward revealing how color impacts consumer buying behavior, the colors you choose in your digital marketing efforts will likely play a large role in how people view your business and its products, and various hues will undoubtedly aid in forming human connections that lead to spontaneous purchasing, and even brand loyalty.
Marketing psychology is the backbone of online business, and the top agencies capable of nailing down the industry’s most innovative SEO strategies understand all facets that lead to full optimization. Color and its use are paramount considerations that leading creative agencies honor, and so too should you.
Colorful Language that Isn’t Swear Words
Human beings can distinguish between 2.5 million different colors, and more than 10 million color variations. This, combined with the fact that people buy something when a deep connection is made, and that studies reveal color as being a major factor that goes into a purchasing decision, I am on the side of the fence that believes color matters in marketing psychology. I like to think of this “subconscious resonating” that happens between a brand and a buyer as “colorful language”–each color speaks its own dialect (different cultures respond to colors differently) and color speaks to our emotional fabric. Here is an image showing colorful language, as it is now perceived in the United States:
With this in mind, let’s consider how colorful language is used in big brands to convey emotional connections with consumers:
Blue – Blue tells buyers they can trust a brand, and tv / mobile phone providers are notorious when it comes to screwing people over. Direct TV and AT&T have shared the same shade of blue in their branding before the two conglomerates merged.
Yellow and Black – Yellow translates excitement and black showcases strength. No wonder Gold’s Gym, a brand endorsed by Arnold Schwarzenegger and the most famous chain of gyms in the world, uses these colors in their marketing efforts.
Green – Eco Friendly – Whole Foods is known as one of the most eco-friendly companies in America, so their solitary green color for branding makes sense. It was a smart move for BP to use green as their primary marketing color, as they are known for causing loads of environmental pollution–their green color and flower-like design makes some people forget the grisly truth.
Whether color is used to emphasize a brand’s core values, or draw attention away from its less admirable qualities, it is a powerful vehicle for enterprise level companies, mid-level businesses, and that “mom and pop” pizza joint down your street. When used to convey feelings, ideas, and create attitudes within your digital marketing scope, it is even more powerful.
Color’s Importance in Digital Marketing
Because digital marketing is void of any face-to-face contact or voice communication, the use of color matters more in this space than it would in a retail storefront where companies have the luxury of hiring skilled human beings to translate a company’s values and products through all the senses. The colors you choose for your logo, website design colors, infographics, and inbound marketing materials can translate messages and inspire emotions that, according to studies, translate into sales.