Do you have a favourite colour? Most people do, and which colour you decide on can say a lot about the kind of person you are. Colour affects us psychologically in an incredible number of ways, engaging and communicating with our subconscious in a series of subtle and… not so subtle interactions, the majority of which we remain mostly unaware of. After reading this post, you’ll hopefully be able to recognise when this is happening, how it is happening and understand where to apply it to your own business branding, marketing or promotional materials.

Let’s start with the basics of colour and it’s deeper meanings, an obvious example that many can call upon is that the colour red can bring feelings of passion, anger and excitement, or images of blood, love hearts and roses. It’s also a ridiculously common colour used in business environments, take a look at this:

How often have you seen this or something similar in a store? Probably too many times to remember. In terms of professional applications of the colour red, it is used most often to instil a sense of tension and adrenaline in a customer, encouraging them to purchase a particular item or service during a sale. Typically products promoted with the colour red will either be temporarily discounted or be of limited stock, as the effects of this aggressive marketing style wear off with sustained exposure. This aggressive style also contributes to why people have claimed to experience an onset of tiredness or irritability while in supermarkets using this style as it can exhaust your senses and leave your mind feeling sluggish.

Compare the above image with this:

How does your attitude to the word ‘Sale’ change based on the colour it’s presented on? If you adhere to typical psychological conventions, the first should catch your eye much faster, excites you at the prospect of a sale and releases a touch of adrenaline. The second should calm and relax you, allowing you to consider the text and the offer available without feeling any discomfort.

Consider these:

I have seen both examples in real world use, in two very different stores. The red uses the attraction of a sale combined with the intensity of the colour to alert you to this massive saving, this may be combined with a ‘while stocks last!’ or ‘offer ends on <date>’ to further push the sense of urgency. The blue, however, gives you all the information you need to come to the conclusion that this is a good price all by yourself and presents you with a calming colour that allows you to do just that, it may even be devoid of the previous price and will very rarely have any other text at all.
With this Custard Cream example, despite both being identically priced, most people would quickly claim that the blue is the best offer, as we are selling something incredibly cheap… However, let’s imagine we are selling a television:

I’ve not yet seen a retailer be this generous, but let’s look at how the colour now works in the favour of red. The saving of nearly £450 becomes more important and apparent, and seems like a better offer since the average person will only look at the current price, not the previous one, in the blue example. It can also be said that £50 for the average person is still a fairly large amount of money, and so the careful consideration warranted by the blue may actually put people off if they feel they don’t need the TV or need the money for other things. These considerations are dulled and often overridden by the adrenaline and excitement of the saving potential and the intense colour in the red example.

So I’ve broken down red and blue, but what about the rest of the rainbow? Well, many other colours don’t have such a simple and effective application, but we’ll discuss them in another post.