Psychology + Design = Colour Your Way to Successful Marketing

December 9, 2021

Many times our decisions to finalise a design is based on “What looks good?” when a rational question would be “What feels right?” 90% of our buying decision is impacted by what we see in the first 90 seconds. Our brain approximately takes 13 milliseconds to process an image and interpret its colours.

The use of colour is pervasive in visual communication. When harnessed in the service of marketing and website designing, colour can wield profound and far-reaching influence on users through its ability to please the senses and at the same time communicate effectively. Humans respond to not just the perception of colour, but to emotions and thoughts evoked in the presence of it. Hence, harnessing colour psychology to get higher conversion rates is the key to effective marketing.

In this article, we’ll explore:

  • Colour and Consumer Behaviour
  • Colour and Branding
  • When to use which colour?

Colour and Consumer Behaviour

Many marketers understand the importance of selecting the right colour for their brand. For example, a company that sells organic products would stay away from using red or blue on their packaging and instead use shades of green.


Because many consumers make purchases on a subconscious level, it is vital to select colours that are somewhat obvious and in alignment with the product.

Colours affect consumer behaviour in various ways, from impulse purchasing to budget-friendly investments. In an article by the Daily Mail, researchers found that the use of the colour red stimulated impulsive buying while navy blue provoked a more thoughtful and budget-conscious buying response.

Colours are one of our basic neurological needs for stimulation. And while this is substantial from a transactional perspective, the impact of colour on marketing has a deeper impact on brand-customer relationships.

In a research study conducted by Qualitative Research agency, brands need to incorporate proper usage of colours to appeal to consumers on an even deeper level, impacting their mood and emotions. For example, the combination of red evokes feelings of attention and urgency, and the colour yellow creates a sense of optimism. The blend of these two creates a sense of happiness, excitement, and grabs the user’s attention.


Although consumer preferences change with trends, their perception and response to basic colour families rarely varies. Memory retention studies concluded that a word or phrase printed in colour is 78% more likely to be remembered by consumers than when it is in black and white. Printed words activate the left hemisphere of the brain and colour activates the right hemisphere of the brain. This combination influences the recall, recognition, and attention of the consumer better. Choosing the right colour can not only attract consumers but also affect their decision making skills.

Colour and Conversions

With the advancement of neuromarketing, researchers have found a connection between the colour of products and the urge to purchase. In a research study published by Moz, an online slot machine, changed their ‘call to action’ button from green to yellow. This resulted in a massive 187.4% rise in conversion rate.

Everytime we see a colour, a chain reaction takes place in the hypothalamus -part of the forebrain responsible for recognising and expressing emotions. Neurons are released that trigger emotions thus impacting your behaviour. Nearly 92% of users indicated that the first influencing factor that impacts their purchasing decision is visual features. Colour plays an important role in shaping a brand’s perception and can surge conversions by 80%.

Colour and Branding

Colour is used as a strategic tool to establish effective communication. Some products have been re-energized and organisations have been revamped because of colour. For example, Instagram reconstructed its logo in 2016 and changed it to a lens with a gradient using pink, purple and yellow colour. As a part of the process, a research was conducted where participants were exposed to a few shortlisted logos. After exposure to those for a brief period of time, participants were asked to recall and draw a logo in 5 seconds. Almost all of them remembered and drew the current logo. With this conclusion, the logo for the app was finalised that strikes a balance between recognition and design.


Brands have adopted a certain colour/s as a part of their identity, and their simplest of the icons take on a persona. They get identified with colours that may be recognized even though the brand name is not visible.

Brand identity is done to imprint a brand’s name and logo in the minds of users; colour plays a significant role in driving it. For instance, the logo of Coca-Cola is white over red; the bottle caps, merchandise, and even the trucks are red. Consumers have associated the colour ‘red’ with Coca Cola.


Brands like these form colour perceptions in the minds of users. Since they have grown up seeing the Coca-Cola brand around them, they will always recognize it.

When eating a meal, the person will instantly look for a red fridge in the restaurant to ask for a soft drink; or when buying a can of coke, the buyer would look for a red can to distinguish it from many other cans of different colours. The colour red of Coca-Cola is the essence of brand loyalty. This goes deep into human behaviour, and how we perceive and interact with our perception of colour.

When to use which colour?

It’s not a coincidence that so many popular social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Tumblr; and other tech brands like HP, Dell, IBM, and Intel have blue logos. This is because the colour blue encourages communication and interaction.


A logo’s colour can say a lot about its brand. One reason why organisations create a logo in the first place is to help the customers visually recall and retain the organisation. Bright colour research

Let’s take a look at colour meaning as it applies to marketing and evaluate the meaning of colour with examples of branding colours.

  • Red

The colour red creates a sense of urgency which makes it suitable for clearance sales or call-to-action buttons. It also kindles appetite and has been frequently used by fast-food chains like, KFC, McDonalds, Dominoes etc. It physically stimulates the body and has been associated with movement and action.


McDonald’s chooses the energetic colour which appeals to children, triggers appetite and creates excitement. Further, it also drives home the message to the users by its tagline- “Lovin’ it.”


  • Green

The colour green has been associated with health, power, tranquility and nature. It is usually used in stores to relax the customers and promote eco-friendly and organic products. It stimulates harmony and encourages a balance leading to decisiveness.

Starbucks is one of the major global brands that employs green in their logo. It attempts to promote a sense of relaxation in its cafe, thus inviting customers for a coffee break during stressful days at work.


  • Orange

Orange is a combination of red and yellow. It tends to evoke welcoming emotions to website users. It is ideal for designs that need movement, action and energy. Organizations that want to showcase their creativity, especially tech companies or websites that deal with gadgets often choose orange.

Harley Davidson uses orange to communicate physical activity in terms of adventure, excitement and vitality.

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Colour is at the centre of marketing. Right from choosing a tone to create a logo to utilising the right hue to create brand awareness and loyalty and inspire action, colour psychology can help one to maximize the subconscious effects of marketing.

Other than being an important part of design it’s also an essential part of the overall brand. The colours employed in a logo must match the brand personality and communicate the underlying vision of the organization.

Hence, leveraging the colour psychology principles will give a designer a stronger idea of how colours influence human beings and help them to drive the right reaction in the majority of the target audience. Once incorporated, the designer can use colour strategically in web design to boost conversions.

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