Why is Facebook primarily blue, Snapchat yellow, but Instagram tends to use more pink and purple? They’re all forms of social media yet they’ve chosen very different colour schemes to follow. Read on for answers and advice on how you can make the psychology of colour work for your brand.
Colour Association Cheat Sheet
If a first impression is formed in under 90 seconds then you’ll want to know what sort of first impression your colour choice is lending to your brand. Here’s a basic overview of the most commonly associated emotions with different colours.
|Yellow (Ikea)||Optimism, warmth|
|Orange (Fanta)||Friendly, confident|
|Red (Youtube)||Excitement, bold|
|Purple (Cadbury)||Creative, wise|
|Blue (Facebook)||Trust, strength|
|Green (The Body Shop)||Peaceful, natural|
|Grey (Apple)||Balance, calm|
|Black (Uber)||Luxury, sophistication|
|Pink (Instagram)||Feminine, assertive|
Of course these associations are not set in stone. In fact, most research in colour theory finds our reactions are based on personal experience which is what makes it so complicated. For example, if purple is your mother’s favourite colour you may find it evokes a sense of love and safety for you as opposed to the traditional expectation of creativity.
Generally speaking however, these are the most commonly reported links between colour and emotion.
Enticing Your Target Demographic
Who is that you most want to reach? Taking your target demographic into account is the most important step in formulating an effective marketing strategy.
If you want to reach women:
Women rate blue, purple and green as their favourite colours. But sometimes it’s more about what colours don’t appear than those that do. Their least favourite are typically orange, brown and grey. Take a look at some female-centric websites and it might strike you how none of them use the lesser preferred colours.
If you want to reach men:
Men are partial to anything including blue, green and black. Think of popular sneaker and active brands and you’ll notice a trend toward black in their logos. Colours to avoid for men are brown, orange and purple.
If you want to reach younger generations:
For younger generations the optimal choices are the exciting colours. Where possible use more than one as it conveys lightheartedness and fun. Red, pink and yellow are bright and exciting to younger consumers. Yellow in particular is believed to stimulate the brain’s excitement centres.
If you want to reach older generations:
The fewer colours you use the more serious your brand will appear. To work with older audiences choosing just one feature colour will be beneficial. It should come as no surprise by this point that blue is a popular choice with older brands as it creates a sense of calm and trust.
Using More Than One Colour
Is it ever wise to use more than one colour? Yes and no. The more colours you use the more difficult it is for a person to understand what message you are wanting to convey. But choosing 1-3 main feature colours can be effective. For example, Mastercard uses both red and orange for their logo. Since these are complementary colours it’s still pleasing to the eye and offers them a bold and friendly brand identity.
If you choose to use multiple colours it’s important that they appear in different ratios. There should be one clear main colour followed by the others, such as the 7-Eleven logo which features mostly green followed by red and then orange.
When you want to use just one colour but are afraid it will become boring try working with different tones and depths of the same. And remember white is your friend. As a background colour it helps the other colours pop and provides a blank canvas to help your brain process the other messages faster.
Creating A Lasting Impression
A colourful logo or web design is only the first step. If you want an instant association between certain colours and your brand then you should employ it in all your design features. Large companies focus on perpetuating their colour identities, such as ANZ bank frequently using blue furniture in their branch design. Marketing events, such as trade shows or conferences, are another opportunity to solidify your brand’s colour association. For example, setting up a green gazebo and including natural elements in your stall design.
So let’s apply this to our social media example from earlier. Instagram users are mostly female so choosing colours that evoke femininity and appeal to this demographic seems obvious. Facebook however, is more widely used by all ages and genders. Therefore a blue logo will universally offer trust. Finally, Snapchat is dominated by a user base under the age of 25. Hence why a yellow logo is going to offer youthful optimism and excitement.
There are very few coincidences in marketing. So don’t leave your strategies to chance. Speak with your web designer and change up your colour scheme to better associate the feelings you want your brand to evoke, or better yet to reach the right demographic.
The psychology of colour is actually rather complicated. But it has some simple uses when it comes to choosing the right colour for your brand.