• Lim Zhixing

The Effect of Colours and Psychology in Marketing

Updated: May 29, 2019

How does psychology affect the choice of colour? Isn’t blue just blue? Well, if you had to choose between Sky Blue and Light Blue, which one would you choose?

A test was conducted to see if the name of a colour will affect people's choices, and when subjects were told to choose between “Mocha” and “Brown”, “Mocha” was found to be much more likable than “Brown” , despite the fact that they were shown the same colour twice. Proven by a study titled “A rose by any other name …”.

Clearing some Misconceptions on colour psychology

Colours can help you guide people to feel the way you wish for them to feel when looking at the material, but colours don’t translate to a single direct and emotion for each individual.

Here is how an infographic on colours and marketing would look like:

Red - evokes a sense of excitement and urgency, commonly used during sales

Blue - is commonly associated with trust

Green - Calm

Purple - Stimulates creativity, commonly used to promote beauty and associated with royalty

Orange/yellow - shows optimism but also used to evoke caution

Black - Authority

White - symbolises purity and safety

90% of the time people assess through colours alone, but it does not mean that they are feeling an definite emotion during that assessment.

Yes, colours still do affect our physiology and our brains.

In 2015, a study found that the color blue reduces stress, slows down heart rate and lowers our blood pressure. Many countries use these techniques to their advantage, for example, the government of Tokyo has been known to use the color blue in their train stations to reduce suicide rates, resulting in 74% fewer suicides. However, this research is still inconclusive and gets challenged all the time by different scientists. (Getuplift.co ,2018)

Psychologist and Stanford professor, Jennifer Aaker, conducted a study on the 5 core dimensions that plays a part in brand personality

Image source: Helpscout

While looking through the chart, did you happen to relate certain colours and personality with some major brands? That is a sign of a successful play of colours to aid in branding.

Colours can do more than just associate your brand with character.

Colours can also help with the aesthetics of your brand and marketing materials. Such as: when you are trying to convey a message to your audience, playing around with the contrast and colours might be more beneficial than you think!

Colour schemes

Image Source: Homestead

Having a good contrast can help your readers reduce eyestrain and also help guide your audience to the direct message you wish to convey.

Joshua Porter, a product designer and partner at Rocket Insights, conducted a test to see if the colour of a button will have a overall conversion of the webpage.

Green is known as a natural colour and widely used in traffic lights to indicate “GO” , red on the other hand, is often perceived as danger, excitement, a sense of urgency and warning. Also, it is a widely used colour on traffic lights as a indication to “STOP”.

The red button actually out performed the green button by 21%.

This shows that you should not simply generalise your idea of colour application based solely on what emotions these colours shows. Since Green was interpreted as a colour that indicates “GO” while Red indicates “STOP”, shouldn’t Green do better instead? Or rather there should not be such a huge difference in the results for those that had clicked on Red instead of Green.

There are many possible reasons to why the results turn out the way it did, so do not blindly change all your buttons to red after this test. Instead, try to identify the colour scheme of your material, and do the adjustments and changes accordingly, identifying what colours would help your audience notice the main content you wish to push forward and should use that to unconsciously guide your audience to notice the information.

Colours can evoke emotion but it does not entirely translate the whole image of a brand.

Colours can embark an change or influence our feelings and senses. It is scientifically proven that yes, the colour blue and help reduce heart rate and lower our blood pressure. But a single colour does not put off a single emotion.


There are many outstanding factors that can affect an individual’s perception of a certain colour. If you wish for your brand to be deemed as a trustworthy brand, you can’t just blue-wash your whole webpage.

Unless that is the theme you’re looking for.

The way each individual reads and understand colour is very subjective, it can be due to cultural differences, their upbringing or just personal preference. Remember that perception of colour varies between each individual, so there is no specific colour that can be directly translated to a definite experience or feeling. Colours can help relay certain brand image messages with the essence of colour psychology.

Colour psychology is just a slice of your whole branding strategy. Truly understanding your target customers and how colour psychology works, then only can you properly use colour psychology to its highest potential.

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