It’s not just a hippie new age inspired idea. Color has long had a huge role to play in global marketing departments simply because it’s one of the key tenets in subliminal marketing.
Subliminal marketing is about sending a non-verbal, non-textual message to your customers; a very discreet but direct feeling you relay to them about your product or service simply by the color choice of your product, logo, marketing materials, office schemes and more. In fact, about 80% of your visual information is relayed by color.
Popular laundry detergents are all in either blue, orange or yellow packages, if not a combination of those colors. Over-the-counter medicines have darker/brighter colors and the same tacky tones. There is a reason, and it’s not just about packaging.
Think of your favorite digital publication; it too will have incorporate a strategic use of color, even down to the background, accent and text colors. Now think of your favorite publication across a couple of industries and note the difference there. Anything new media inspired tends to have a cloud blue, a bright but subdued orange with grey as an accent color. Anything in news media will have more bold colors with darker tones.
So what do these colors mean? And how do you choose the right color? By understanding what colors symbolize and the effect they have on people.
Red demands attention. It’s the color of primal forces like fire and blood, which links it with today’s association of extremes, passion, danger and adventure. Red is often a favorite color for people, but that doesn’t mean you should automatically reach for it. There’s a difference between “red pen” shades based on “tomato reds” and more striking colors like blue-reds. It’s a general marketing rule that text shouldn’t be in tomato reds since it hurts the eyes and is hard to read. This shade also creates an unfavorable association with errors (like those of red pen markups). If you’re going to use red beyond packaging, then opt for blue-reds.
Yellow is the most visible color in the color spectrum, which is why road signs are often in yellow. In brighter and pastel shades, yellow is the color of happiness. In darker shades, yellow implies illness. You’ll rarely see yellow used in marketing. If you’re going to use yellow, pair it as an accent color to a shade of its opposite on the color wheel, which ensures your two colors are complementary.
Blue is commonly associated with calm, clarity and royalty. Specifically, dark blue implies trust, intelligence and authority. Bright blue shades get you cleanliness and dependability, which is why all cleaning product commercials have blue and white in them. And finally, light blue traditionally translates to more ethereal feelings; though today that feeling can be extended to visionary associations, which is why you’ll see it used in many new media/technology websites. You can almost never go wrong with blue; again, you can go wrong with the shade you choose, depending on your industry/product or service.
The color of money and now the top color of the go-green environmental movement. While these two associations may seem very different from one another, they’re not. They both linked to fertility and growth; in terms of money, everyone wants more of it. If you’re in the popular “green” industry, stay away from cliché bright greens. Try something more subdued and pair it with a sky blue for impact.
Traditionally, purple was the color of the esoteric – simply because of its rarity. Today, light purples are seen as more feminine colors (and notably rarely used in marketing unless for that demographic). Darker colors inspire nobility and trust, both a take on shades of royal blue. Really though, you don’t see purple too much in either print or digital marketing simply because it’s the hardest color for the eye to capture.
The color of enlightenment, orange symbolizes both vitality and warmth. Note that today bright orange is rare, but more “pumpkin” shades are popular in nearly all new media strategies – down to the subheading font color. Orange works because it’s a color that sets things apart without dominating or competing with other shades.
Usually a typical “girl” color, pink is going to be 2012’s new marketing color following the sky blue and pumpkin orange trends. Note that you’ll have seen pink as the branding color for T-mobile commercials. Pink is a fierce color that shouldn’t be marginalized as just feminine.
Whatever shade you choose, remember that color isn’t a magic marker. Even proper color marketing techniques won’t work if they’re paired with bad design and terrible content.