Colour me intrigued – How the right colours can make or break your marketing campaign

In the year 2000, Heinz sold over 10 million bottles of green ketchup. Green. A colour typically associated more with mould than delicious condiments. That year – in which Heinz Squirt Blastin’ Green ketchup made the company $23 million in sales in the first seven months of its run – proved something to marketers. Colour matters.

So much so, that for a brief period, consumers went wild for this slime green ketchup, which didn’t taste any different than regular old red ketchup, by the way.

The success of Heinz’s product relied on its marketing. Kids were the target demographic, and the ketchup resembled the green slime that had become popular during that time.

While love for green ketchup has faded, marketers still keep a keen eye on colour in their campaigns and products, and you should too.

Colour psychology, a field of study many marketers use to their advantage, states that different colours elicit different feelings and actions from people. Some colours, for example, can encourage creativity, while others promote trust in a brand.

This means that choosing the right shade for your logo, company website, signage and social posts can be vital to the success of your marketing. According to a study conducted by the Seoul International Color Expo, 93% of buyers focus on visual appearance when buying a product, and almost 85% said colour was a primary reason they made a purchase.

Colours and their meanings:

Colour psychology has a powerful effect on consumer behaviour. The following are some popular colours used in marketing, and what feelings and emotions they’re associated with:

Red

This colour creates a sense of urgency and encourages appetite. It’s often used by fast-food chains. Red has been shown to raise blood pressure and heart rate, so it’s associated with excitement, movement and passion. It’s great for call-to-action buttons, for example.

Famous red logo: McDonalds

Green

Green makes people feel tranquil and at peace. It’s associated with health, power, and nature, and is often used to promote environmental issues or to relax customers. It’s a popular colour for clean energy companies, banks and spas.

Famous green logo: Starbucks

Purple

If you look at your shampoo bottle, you’ll probably find a purple hue somewhere. This colour is associated with royalty, wisdom and respect, and stimulates creativity and problem-solving. It also brings to mind luxury, indulgence and exceptional quality, which is why you’ll often see it in beauty and anti-aging products.

Famous purple logo: Hallmark

Blue

While blue is often associated with masculinity, it’s not only used to target the male demographic. This colour is linked to peace, tranquility, water, and reliability. It can stimulate productivity and is also known to curb appetite, which is why it’s not a popular colour choice for restaurant logos. Blue conveys a sense of security and is often used by conservative brands aiming to promote consumer trust.

Famous blue logo: Honda

Pink

Don’t underestimate this shade. While pink is often associated with femininity, it’s more than just a colour for girls. When used boldly with white or bright colours, pink can be edgy. It symbolizes youth, fun, energy and confidence. When used subtly, with dark colours and a traditional font, it can be seen as seductive, sophisticated and calming.

While a ‘pink is for girls’ mentality still exists, the use of this hue in the breast cancer awareness campaign means it also symbolizes strength and unity.

Famous pink logo: Victoria’s Secret

Orange

Orange is a cheerful colour used to promote optimism. Orange in marketing has been used to symbolize adventure, excitement, and vitality.

Famous Orange logo: Harley Davidson

Yellow

Like Orange, yellow is also cheerful and optimistic. Yellow is linked to happiness, excitement, and creativity. It’s often used to connect with a younger demographic.

Famous Yellow logo: Snapchat

Colours to use with caution

Choosing the right colour for your company can be tricky. Depending on the message you’re trying to send, and the demographic you’re trying to reach, you may want to be careful with the following shades:

Yellow

Yellow is my favourite colour. It always has been. It reminds me of the sun and makes me happy. But apparently it’s also known for making babies cry.

Orange

Orange can trigger a sense of caution in some customers (think safety cones), which may mean less spending. With that said, it’s important to note that this colour can also create a sense of anxiety that can draw in impulsive buyers and window shoppers, so orange may actually work well for some retail locations.

Black

Used sparingly, black can bring to mind a feeling of authority, power, stability, confidence, and strength. But if this colour is overused, it becomes overwhelming.

Grey

Try not to overuse this colour, because too much gray can lead to feelings of depression. When used correctly, though, grey can convey a sense of practicality, maturity, and solidarity. If your demographic is older, for example, there may be room for this shade in your colour scheme.

The final word

Colour psychology should never be overlooked when creating your company’s brand. The wrong shades – like too much grey – can alienate your audience and have a detrimental effect on your marketing. The right colours – like green when trying to reach a clean energy consumer, or red when trying to encourage appetite – can actually help with conversion rates.