Colour, branding and influence: Considering the variables

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colour preferences
Male and female colour preferences

colour marketingThis recent Entrepeneur.com article: The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding, takes a thorough look at the research into the impact of colour choices on marketing, and seeks to debunk the quick-and-easy “solutions” because, as writer Gregory Ciotti notes, the impact of colour on marketing decisions relates to social context and perceptions — so a one-size-fits-all answer won’t work.

Maybe ironically, you can even see this differentiation in how we spell the word “colour”. I’m in Canada, and the “u” indeed is the correct spelling here. However, in the U.S., of course you would spell the word “color” — and in quoted text — from U.S. sources — I’ll retain the “color” word form.

Citotti writes:

Bottom line: I can’t offer you an easy, clear-cut set of guidelines for choosing your brand’s colors, but I can assure you that the context you’re working within is an absolutely essential consideration.

It’s the feeling, mood, and image that your brand creates that play a role in persuasion. Be sure to recognize that colors only come into play when they can be used to match a brand’s desired personality (i.e., the use of white to communicate Apple’s love of clean, simple design).

Without this context, choosing one color over another doesn’t make much sense, and there is very little evidence to support that ‘orange’ will universally make people purchase a product more often than ‘silver’.

However, even though his bottom line defies simple answers, research undoubtedly shows that colour is vitally important in branding and purchase decisions. In fact, he writes:

In an appropriately titled study called Impact of Color in Marketing, researchers found that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone (depending on the product).

So this stuff is important — but you need to figure out a variety of things before deciding which colour to use.

First, at least in the U.S., it seems blue is the favourite colour for both men and women — but there are gender differences on other colours.

colour preferences
Male and female colour preferences

The most notable points in these images is the supremacy of blue across both genders (it was the favorite color for both groups) and the disparity between groups on purple. Women list purple as a top-tier color, but no men list purple as a favorite color. (Perhaps this is why we have no purple power tools, a product largely associated with men?)

Elsewhere he writes about the importance of differentiation. If all of your competitors have elected to use blue in their logo (logical, based on the preferences noted above), you would be wisest to choose another colour, if you don’t want to be lost in the shuffle.

Finally, Ciotti notes that colour contrast can be important in designing point-of-sale and website marketing tools; the selection of the colour (and specific text) in the call-to-action button can truly differentiate results. The key is for the button to have strong contrast with the rest of the page.

There’s lots of stuff here.  Maybe, indeed, you should be sure to make your logo blue, but maybe not — if your biggest competitor is blue, as well. However, thoughtful research into colour should be one of your marketing priorities, so you may wish to bookmark the relevant articles when you are planning your marketing identity.

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