A conceptual study on psychology of color in marketing and branding
Misconceptions around the Psychology of Color
As research shows, it’s likely because elements such as personal preference, experiences, upbringing, cultural differences, context, etc., often muddy the effect individual colors have on us. So the idea that colors such as yellow or purple are able to invoke some sort of hyper-specific emotion is about as accurate as your standard Tarot card reading.
The Importance of Colors in Branding
First, let’s address branding, which is one of the most important issues relating to color perception and the area where many articles on this subject run into problems.
There have been numerous attempts to classify consumer responses to different individual colors. But the truth of the matter is that color is too dependent on personal experiences to be universally translated to specific feelings.
In an appropriately titled study called Impact of Color in Marketing, researchers found that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone (depending on the product).
The study Exciting Red and Competent Blue also confirms that purchasing intent is greatly affected by colors due to the impact they have on how a brand is perceived. This means that colors influence how consumers view the “personality” of the brand in question (after all, who would want to buy a Harley Davidson motorcycle if they didn’t get the feeling that Harleys were rugged and cool?).
Additional studies have revealed that our brains prefer recognizable brands, which makes color incredibly important when creating a brand identity. It has even been suggested in Color Research & Application that it is of paramount importance for new brands to specifically target logo colors that ensure differentiation from entrenched competitors (if the competition all uses blue, you’ll stand out by using purple).
When it comes to picking the “right” color, research has found that predicting consumer reaction to color appropriateness in relation to the product is far more important than the individual color itself. So, if Harley owners buy the product in order to feel rugged, you could assume that the pink + glitter edition wouldn’t sell all that well.
Color Coordination + Conversions
The psychological principle known as the Isolation Effect states that an item that “stands out like a sore thumb” is more likely to be remembered. Research clearly shows that participants are able to recognize and recall an item far better (be it text or an image) when it blatantly sticks out from its surroundings.
The studies Aesthetic Response to Color Combinations and Consumer Preferences for Color Combinations also find that while a large majority of consumers prefer color patterns with similar hues, they favor palettes with a highly contrasting accent color.
In terms of color coordination, this would mean creating a visual structure consisting of base analogous colors and contrasting them with accent complementary colors (or you can use tertiary colors)
Why this matters: Although you may start to feel like an interior decorator after reading this section, this stuff is actually incredibly important in helping you understand the why behind conversion jumps and slumps. As a bonus, it will help keep you from drinking the conversion rate optimization Kool-Aid that misleads so many people.
Consider, for instance, this often-cited example of a boost in conversions due to a change in button color.