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Can we use colour amongst the noise to drive conversion in 2019?

In nature, both flora and fauna use colour to sustain life - flowers to attract bees, peacocks use it for mating and camelions use it for camouflage. And certainly, we use colour every day, either to express our emotions or to stand out. But does it really have that much impact in our business lives?

Typically in the business world, we tend to think of colour mainly in relation to the design of websites, mobile apps, print media ads or digital media banner ads. Naturally, we want the design representing our business to look aesthetically pleasing. To delve deeper, did you know there are strategies in the use of colour by marketing specialists that can improve the ROI performance of ads, and even influence how your brand is perceived? Here’s how:

Colour Drives Emotional Reactions

In perhaps one of the more controversial aspects of marketing, analysing colour psychology reveals the relationship between colour and human behaviour, and how it is manipulated to potentially influence consumers as a factor in their daily purchase decisions. Whether you’re a fashion brand trying to evoke a sense of luxury and appeal to a high-income consumer, or an airline establishing customer trust in the brand, understanding and applying colour psychology can help attract and connect with your target audience.

It is important to note that since colour is subjective to each individual based on their personal preferences, gender, background and culture, there is no guarantee that you can ascertain a specific emotion from the colour green, for example. However, consumer science identifies common patterns in colour perception, which is then applied by marketing experts in practical ways to make decisions about colour. To demonstrate this in practice, let’s take a look at some of the most iconic brands in the world.

How the World’s Most Powerful Brands Use Colour

American researchers studying the brain’s response to product branding claim that consumers opt for immediately recognisable brands when making purchase decisions. This makes colour choice an important element in maintaining consistency and creating a brand identity.

Red is the most intense colour, being high in energy and associated with passion and excitement as it raises our blood pressure and heart rate, clearly utilised by Toyota with their ‘Oh what a feeling’ tagline aligned with a red and grey logo. It also encourages appetite, which is one reason why it is often associated with fast-food brands such as McDonalds and Coca-Cola. Red captures attention, promotes action and creates urgency, and is therefore frequently used in clearance sales. Red can also trigger danger and needs to be used tactfully.

Blue is the colour of communication, the most common ‘favourite’ colour in the world and provides a sense of security and trust in a brand. It’s clear to see why this is consistently found across IT and finance companies such as Intel and American Express, mobile phone brands such as Samsung and social media companies including Facebook, Twitter, Skype and LinkedIn.

Shades of orange suggest cheaper products such as that offered by Jetstar and Amazon, while premium brands utilise the luxury implied by grey such as Apple and Mercedes Benz.

Colour Influences Brand Perception

Colour is omnipresent and a source of information, inciting feeling and emotion in us all. Can it really be so powerful as to immediately influence the overall perception of a brand? Let’s look at the science.

A study conducted in Canada in 2006 on the psychological aspects of colour in marketing found that up to a whopping 90 per cent of initial judgments on products are based on colour alone. Your company logo, your website, your product packaging - this is the first impression you make on a consumer, your first opportunity to connect with them and influence purchase.

Another study conducted by Professors of Marketing and Consumer Science at Cardiff University demonstrated how ‘perceived appropriateness’ of logo colour choice brings inherent and immediate value to a brand. In other words, does the colour ‘fit’ the value proposition of what is being sold? This is where utilising a marketing specialist comes into play, as it isn’t a particular colour or colour shade necessarily that will achieve your goals. Instead, colour management in marketing considers the overarching personality and positioning of the brand, your unique selling points, whether you are premium or budget, targeting younger or older audiences and so on.

Colour can Impact Conversion Rate

Even if you have a well-established product or logo, there are strategic colour adjustments you can make to your website and advertisements to improve the conversion rate and return on investment. Telstra is a great case in point here, using a variety of colours to appeal to a broader age and gender profile, making them more approachable and relevant.

Clever use of colour contrast on websites improves readability, reduces eyestrain and directs attention to specific items such as a limited time offer or a unique product functionality.

Colour can be used to guide your consumers on the path of where you want them to look and what action you want them to take next. For example, green is strategically a good choice for buttons on websites as it inherently means ‘go’. Another example can be found by online retailers, who leverage the reliability and trust implied by the colour blue to highlight a trust certification, free shipping or a product guarantee.

In Summary

With so much noise in the media and so much choice in the market, the use of colour is more relevant than ever with today’s consumers in order to command attention, differentiate your brand from your competition and fast-track purchase., There are no exact answers for colour selection, as it depends on your product/service, your target market, your competitive landscape, desired brand positioning and the overall context of your messaging to consumers. Choose a marketing strategist who understands that brands are as individual as we are, and the feeling, mood and image that you want to evoke will drive decisions on colour appropriateness and brand identity.


Need Advice?

Need advice? Get in touch to speak with a marketing strategist who knows what to look out for, can share some relevant colour psychology insights and apply it to your business.

About the author

Deep See Marketing

Deep See Marketing

Cathryn Irvine is a marketing specialist and the founder of Deep See Marketing. With experience ranging from Telco to retail and digital to direct marketing, Cath's creative foundation has delivered significant revenue return for her clients.

Cath is also certified in digital marketing and Google analytics