Although seen as a controversial marketing issue, it’s certainly the case that your colour choice can influence the way others see you and your brand. It’s a difficult area to pin down because colour largely acts on the subconscious mind, subtly impacting our reactions and, as such, is prey to individual preferences which may not chime with the majority view.
All of which means that the use of colour to target a specific emotion/demographic is an inexact science and open to interpretation. But although colours don’t always universally correlate to specific emotions, it is possible to extract some general ground rules.
The Relationship Between Brand and Colour
Studies show that colour may well have a part to play in purchases and branding. For instance, it’s not unusual for buyers to make snap judgements largely based on colour and the relationship between brands and colour is also key, with its effectiveness resting on whether or not the colour chimes with the brand values.
Research – Exciting Red and Competent Blue – seems to show that purchasers may also be affected by colours if they impact the personality of a brand. So if there’s a mismatch between colour and image, it may damage the brand – possibly why IBM sticks with dependable blue rather than hot pink. So the right colour for your brand may be more important than the colour itself.
Stand Out From The Crowd
Other studies have shown that people generally prefer easily recognised brands. Which may make it important for you to differentiate your brand from the competition by choosing a colour that’s different to that used by competitors.
Some colours do broadly align with specific characteristics – exciting red, optimistic yellow and creative purple - but most academic studies show that the colour you choose should support your brand proposition rather than trying to align with broad-brush colour associations. So while, for some, white may convey clean and clinical (antiseptic hand wash) it may also reflect cool and calm (Apple). As with most things, context is all.
Do Men and Women Favour Different Colours?
It is worth considering gender preferences. Researcher Joe Hallock has delved deeply into the effect of gender in his Colour Assignments project and his data demonstrates some clear preferences for certain colours. Obviously, cultural perceptions play a big role in assigning colour preferences – western stereotypes often assume the pink-for-girls and blue-for-boys position. That said, Hallock’s research shows that both men and women largely favour blue, although women rate purple highly, a colour that barely features in men’s stated preferences.
Additional research in studies on colour perception and colour preferences seem to show that men opt for stronger, bolder colours, while women prefer softer tones. It appears that men were also more likely to select blackened shades, whereas women were more receptive to lightened tints.
Go With Your Instinct
All of which might inform your choice of logo or business card colour, but it still makes best sense to go with the colour that you feel best represents your personal or professional brand – so long as it’s what appeals to your customers, of course!
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