How many individual pieces of content marketing have you seen so far today?
If you’ve spent any time on the internet, the answer is probably somewhere between “thirty-something” and “far too much” – there’s a reason for it.
Marketing is everywhere, from our social media accounts to Google searches to even our email inbox. We are surrounded by a plethora of content (websites and apps) that demand our attention. And that’s just considering online content!
Understandably, that creates a conundrum for marketers. How can you make your own marketing stand out from the crowd or how do you increase your website engagement with all the competition out there? And how can you get – and keep – the attention of your potential clients?
One of the biggest factors in marketing that works to retain attention is the effective use of color.
Let’s take a look at how colors in marketing can be used and the design principles that go into choosing a color palette.
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Why color choice is so important?
Effective marketing is marketing that gets the attention of the viewer. Effectiveness can be increased in a variety of ways, such as carefully choosing when and where to employ your marketing, targeting your audience, and using legible, attractive design.
But another big factor that plays into overall marketing effectiveness is the colors that you choose.
This fact is illustrated by the sheer amount of research that has been done on colors in marketing. A quick Google search for color in marketing will bring up results such as this study which discusses the impact of color on marketing.
The study found that while people typically form the first impression about a product in fewer than 90 seconds (more recent research claims it might be in as little as 7 seconds). Anywhere from 62% to a whopping 90% of that snap judgment is based on color alone!
It’s a pretty obvious point to make: if you’re walking by a store, for example, a big red-on-white “Sale!” sign is much more likely to jump out at you than, say, a red-on-green sign saying the same thing.
So color choice can be effective on multiple levels. It can help you to get attention, to promote a good first impression, and to draw the viewer into a deeper engagement.
Obviously, color choice is important in more aspects than just marketing. But since marketing is what we’re here to discuss, let’s talk about it a little more in depth.
Colors in marketing
Since marketing is all about getting noticed, any marketer worth his or her salt would employ any trick in the book to reach that goal.
We can see examples of this in a variety of settings.
Think of brands that are famously attached to or associated with certain colors:
John Deere, for example, and what is typically called “John Deere green.”
Or what about Starbucks? The coffee chain giant is a classic example of across-the-board color marketing. I can’t count the times I’ve been traveling and caught sight of a green awning and sighed in relief, knowing that my next cup of coffee was only a few blocks away. That’s without seeing the logo or reading a marquee sign. The color alone is so closely associated with the brand that it markets itself without needing to say anything at all.
That is clearly echoed across all types of marketing for the brand, as well. If you visit the Starbucks website, the very first thing you see is a band of that inimitable green at the very top of the page.
The same color is echoed through social media platforms, such as Starbucks’ Instagram page. While it isn’t all decked out in that color, it is repeated often enough that it both reinforces the color as a brand ambassador, and identifies the account with the brand.
But that might seem like a one-off to you. After all, not all brands have flagship colors like that.
And that’s true. Sometimes, brand color choices are based on other things, like the psychology behind how we react to colors.
The psychological impact of colors
The psychology of color is a fascinating field of study. But it’s hindered somewhat by the fact that not all results are entirely predictable.
That’s simply because the psychology of colors is really based on preference. And sometimes there’s just no accounting for taste, whether good, bad, or indifferent.
Very basically, however, research indicates that we as a species tend to respond to certain colors in certain ways.
Image Source: Visme
Even if there’s no hard and fast rule about how every single person will react to your pastel blue and forest green color scheme, there’s still enough data available to give you a fairly good idea.
Red, for example, is an easy one. As we mentioned before, it’s definitely an attention-getter. Red tends to be highly motivating, attracting the eye, and eliciting strong reactions. It can even stimulate appetite, which is why we often see it used in branding and marketing centered around food. Think of examples like PizzaHut, McDonald’s, Red Robin, and Coca-Cola.
Orange is another popular color in marketing, as it also tends to get attention. Orange is considered a friendly, warm, exciting color. It’s often used as a palette for a call to action – on Amazon’s website, for example, the retail giant uses orange for the search function, as a highlight for the shopping cart, and for the checkout button.
Amazon is a good demonstrative example of how to use color effectively while exercising restraint. If you plaster bright colors all over every piece of marketing that you have, it will have exactly the same effect as mixing your marketing in with that of every other company. Nothing will stand out, and nothing will get attention.
Brand familiarity and recognition
As we demonstrated with the example of Starbucks above, color can increase the recognition of a brand, and therefore its familiarity.
In fact, statistics indicate that 80% of people believe that color increases brand recognition.
This is important not just from an attention-getting point of view, but also for the longer-term goal of building a relationship with customers. If you lay the groundwork, catching attention and establishing a connection between your marketing palette and the brand, then consumers will pick up on that.
From that moment forward, the colors alone can help to do your job for you, just like what happens when I spot a certain green in the distance and suddenly start to crave coffee and an overpriced breakfast sandwich.
Speaking of building a craving…
Colors and consumer motivation
As shown in the research linked above, colors also play a part in motivating an audience to take the next step and become customers.
Choosing red in your restaurant marketing, for example, could actually stimulate the viewer to visit the restaurant and try the food. There’s a reason why neon “Eat Here!” signs are usually in red.
Red is a top choice for consumer motivation, in almost all markets. If you want your viewer to take action right now, a judicious use of red is a good choice.
But building up the relationship between a color and a brand also can be highly motivational. I know I keep harping on about Starbucks green, but that’s a well-demonstrated example of how color works as a brand-related motivational force for consumers.
On top of all that, design concerns such as product packaging and even the colors of the products themselves can play a part in what people choose to purchase. One source states that nearly 85% of consumers point to color as the main reason why they buy what they buy.
If your company sells multiple color variants of the same product, then, it’s wise to keep track of which color sells better. That winning color or color combination could then effectively be used in marketing, since it’s been proven to be popular, and your consumer is already likely more familiar with it.
Effective marketing through color choice
Color choice is an integral part of marketing. So much so, in fact, that some marketing experts say it may be the defining factor in what makes your marketing effective.
I’m not sure if I agree with that, necessarily, simply because good marketing really needs to be a combination of factors that all come together to create a message.
But it’s certainly true that integrating smart color choice into your marketing can make a difference in how much attention you draw.
As a matter of fact, color advertisements versus black and white ads can demonstrate the appeal clearly. Statistics show that ads in color are read 42% more often than similar or identical ads without color.
It all boils down to this:
- Color is a vital part of attracting attention to marketing efforts.
- Palette choice is influenced by the psychology of color for the best effect.
- Up to 80% of consumers believe that colors help to “make” and identify a brand.
- Up to 90% of consumers form their first impression largely based on color.
- Which colors you choose will also influence the follow-through and purchasing patterns of the buyer.
So colors should definitely be a main concern when putting together your marketing. Ultimately, the colors you choose can not only make a difference in how much attention you get to begin with but in the conversion success rate of your marketing materials.
Guest author: Ayesha Ambreen is a creative content strategist, featured graphic designer and a blogger. Best known for her creative visuals and viral content ideas, Ayesha’s work has been featured on blogs such as Entrepreneur.com, Smashing Magazine, Icons8, Hubspot and more. A writer by day and a reader by night, Ayesha loves to explore new realms of creativity and content through her work. Follow her on Twitter at @AyeshaAmbreen