Using Color Psychology in your Promotions

rose quarts and serenityRose Quartz and Serenity are the 2016 Pantone colors of the year.  But what makes them so popular, and why are we drawn to certain colors over others?  Colors can be used to tell a story and influence decisions and when used correctly, can also be a powerful tool in your marketing toolbox.  We all recognize that Target brand red when we see it, and chances are you would be able to pick out the blue in Walmart’s logo from a line-up as well.  Both of these companies are recognizable because they strategically chose their color schemes and consistently leverage these powerful colors in their marketing efforts.

The success of a promotional products campaign depends on several factors: you have to pick the right product for the right target audience.  The right design is also essential, which is why it is so important to have an understanding of how to use color effectively.  Here are some tips to consider before launching your next promotional campaign.

Choose colors based on your audience and brand traits

Some colors are better-suited for your brand than others.  The right color depends on what traits you want to highlight with your campaign.  REI for example uses a natural color palette in their branding to convey their commitment to the great outdoors.  The shoe company Toms uses a gender neutral blue and grey in their branding to attract both men and women customers.  If your brand trait is ruggedness, green and brown are great options.  Shades of yellow, pink, and white help communicate sincerity, making them ideal for many nonprofit organizations.  The colors you pick should match the personality of your brand while also appealing to the target audience.

Learn more about the psychology of color

Each color has the power to evoke certain emotions, making color psychology a serious consideration every time you launch a new campaign.  When used properly, each color can convey specific messages about a product or brand:

  • Red: Passion, excitement, energy, strength
  • Orange: Optimistic, informal, enthusiastic, sociable
  • Yellow: Playful, cheerful, uplifting, optimistic, fun
  • Green: Reliabile, restorative, freshness, vitality, growth
  • Blue: Integrity, trust, responsibility, loyalty
  • Purple: Intuitive, selfless, creative, individualistic, mysterious
  • Pink: Romantic, hopeful, warmth, sweetness
  • White: Purity, innocence, simplicity, new beginnings
  • Black: Protection, authority, seductive, comforting
  • Brown: Dependable, approachable, practical, friendly, wholesome

Accent and Contrasting colors

Always using the same imprint color can make a promotion go stale.  In addition to the main logo colors you should also pick a supporting cast of colors to help convey secondary brand traits and round out your color palette.  These colors can both support and also contrast with your logo depending on the desired result. Supporting colors can be subtle and can help a promotion be more cohesive, while contrasting colors can be used to grab your attention.

An example of contrasting colors is McDonald’s iconic golden arches on the red signs that can be seen while driving along the highway.  These bold colors are recognizable and appeal especially to children.  For a more subtle look, accents can be used to tone down bold colors or ramp up neutral ones.  Ray-Ban, which uses primarily black and red in their marketing also incorporates muted shades of gold and grey to soften the coloring scheme of their ads.  Both of these examples highlight how the use of contrasting and supporting colors can transform a campaign.

Moonrise Kingdom
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Colors are all around us, shaping our experiences and impacting our moods and decisions, often without us even realizing it.  A stoplight uses colors to give directions, while a painter uses colors to evoke emotions.  The movies we watch use colors to set the tone and to tell a story, and the same can be true in your marketing campaigns.  When done correctly the right color palette can bring your branding to new heights.  The next time you are launching a campaign consider the psychology of color principals to spark a lasting connection.

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