Color and Advertising

Color has been said to increase a person’s recognition of a brand by over seventy-five percent, so it is no surprise that a lot of companies use it in their advertising. They know that people react to color and that it evokes emotions that words and images sometimes cannot achieve. The reaction to colors, although sometimes more subtle than others depending on the person, is basically uniform all across society, at least within a country. From country to country there are different perceptions of color, and these have to be taken note of because merchandisers can make serious mistakes with color in advertising if they fail to pay attention to what color means to various societies and cultures.

In most places, red is seen as a color of power and strength, as well as passion. It’s also good for advertising something that people want ‘right now,’ such as a button to click to buy something or an important but short-lived sale. Orange is similar in its properties but it’s not quite as strong as red, so it doesn’t evoke the excitement – and sometimes anger – that red can bring about. Yellow is sunny and happy, and a lot of children and young people react well to both yellow and orange because they are ‘happy’ colors. They make people smile and they can work well with toys and other objects that you want to highlight, including important aspects of a particular design. When you move into green and blue you move toward colors that are more relaxing and nature-based. This can make people feel very calm, and it also works well for growth and rebirth, as is seen in nature. These colors also offer many people a feeling of stability.

If you want power and royalty and prestige, purple in the color to use. A lot of people associate it with royal things, and if you want the people who look at your product to see it as important and valuable a strong purple color will make that more likely. Staying away from blacks and grays is usually a good idea, unless you’re using them only for a border or accent color to make other colors stand out more strongly. If they are used too often or in too much of the advertising they can make a product seem dark and drab, which is a definite turn off to many buyers. Used in small amounts they can denote elegance and sophistication.

2 Responses to “Color and Advertising”

  1. I think this site is a great idea and applaud those behind it.

    I have one suggestion, and that is to bring color into the global environment. Color is perceived differently based on culture, gender and a variety of other factors. So having some localization on the topic would be extra cool.

    For example, green and money are associated in those countries that have green money, like the US (although now it looks more like it all got rinsed in the wash what with our “colored” money) but not for other cultures.

    Your suggestion of purple is a slightly dangerous one, for example. Purple in Catholic culture is representative of death. In some Islamic nations, it’s associated with prostitution (like red can be in european and US culture). Purple is also perceived by many evangelical christians as related to the devil, “new age” practices, and magic, which are unacceptable in that cultural context.

    As a person involved in the development and design of web sites, localization practices become very important in effective color use and successful advertising.

    Thanks for building up an interesting and fun resource!

  2. Why is a website dedicated to colour displayed with a BLACK background? What are the effects of the black background on people’s choices on the poll on the homepage? Surely a large part of our reaction to colour is as much to do with the contrast of colour with its environment as it is with the colour itself.

    Who chose black as a background? What factors were considered? Considering all that you say about colour, it seems an odd choice for the most common colour on the site.

    Finally, reading white on black is like driving at night - no matter how much sleep you’ve had it tires your eyes much quicker.

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