Feb 2019

Let’s get down to the basics
The colour psychology is the persuasion of the conscious using hues- better known as colours and is one of the most interesting and controversial topics spoken about especially in marketing.

There are hundreds of infographics, images, and guides explaining how different colours affect our emotions but at the core of it usually goes around the lines of:

  • Red = Anger
  • Blue = Trust
  • Green = Health
  • Yellow = Happiness

It is not hard to find never-ending lists explaining exactly what colour creates what emotion. However, we have to ask ourselves what do colours really mean? How can hues and saturations have such an effect that it influences our mood and emotions?

It is not surprising at all that today’s conversations on colour persuasion consist of hunches, fictional evidence and advertisers blowing smoke about “colours and the mind”. Countless businesses use these so-called guides to determine the colour of their brand, the background, and images on their landing pages.

What’s wrong with this? The problem is that colour psychology doesn’t really work that way. The myth that all colours create a unique emotion for every person in the world is simply incorrect.   

“PINK VS BLUE” and other colour blues

The “blue for boys and pink for girls” rule, is one of the common colour misconceptions that many retail companies have. Studies have shown that babies and toddlers are actually attracted to the same colours. In fact, it isn’t mentioned in any study that pink has a major influence on girls. 

Another commonly misunderstood colour is white – while the Western culture perceives white to be a “pure colour’, in the Chinese culture the same colour is the colour of death- might get very awkward to mix those two up.

These are all social constructs and cultural changes. The meaning of colours are referential, not embedded, or universally experienced. So the idea that colours such as yellow or purple are able to evoke some sort of hyper-specific emotion is just as “accurate” as your road-side palm reader.

Some brands are aware of this and know how to take advantage of colour psychology to increase conversions.. They want to influence their target audiences’ decision process and make them feel the way the brands want them to feel.

Tiffany & Co. is a perfect example of how a brand took a colour and integrated it into the brand so well, that now “Tiffany Blue” is enough to remind consumers of the brand.

Their iconic shade was selected by founder Charles Lewis Tiffany for the cover of the Blue Book, Tiffany’s annual collection of exquisitely handcrafted jewels. Their distinctive shade screams vibrancy and takes us to a luxury filled world full of elegance and sophistication.

In 2001, Tiffany & Co. approached PANTONE to standardise their shade to ensure that no matter the medium in which the colour was reproduced in or no matter wherever in the world you are, “837 Blue” (The number represents 1837, the founding year of Tiffany ) would be instantly recognisable.

Our takeaways from this

With colour being a signifier, one that draws our attention and helps brands establish an identity for themselves, it is crucial that when making colour-based decisions, brands think about how the shade will portray the image and essence of the company.

Visual cues are vital to successfully getting a message across. And to end of this blog with a fact, “80% of our human experience filtered through our eyes, companies can use that as an advantage to imprint lasting impressions on their consumers.”

Roxanne Heldt