The Psychology Of Color

Posted by Hannah Bailey on August 13, 2013

I’m a color fanatic. How color works, the manner in which it influences our decisions and the ways in which it communicates a message are fascinating to me.

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Picture a can of 7 Up. (Can you see that yellow green packaging?) Louis Cheskin, a scientist, color psychologist and insightful marketer, experimented with the packaging and found that if he changed the color just a bit by adding 15 percent more yellow to the lime green, people reported that the 7 Up had a more intense lime flavor. Adding more yellow to the packaging of 7 Up is like writing “MORE LIME!” across the can.

Studies like this show that we don’t just loosely associate meaning with color, but that color often has a direct and sometimes physical impact on our senses.

Since color has such a powerful ability to communicate moods and ideas, knowing what a color means to your audience is crucial when designing a brand or a brochure, or even when painting a room. Industries have gone so far as to adopt certain color palettes because they communicate positive ideas and feelings about the product or brand.

Take toothpaste, for example: Since blue communicates freshness and cleanliness, light blue and white are almost the only colors found on the toothpaste aisle.

To hear more about the use of color in successful branding, or to experiment with creating your own color palettes, check out the following links:

  • Why is Facebook Blue? This is a great post by Leo Widrich on the use of color in some of the most recognizable brands.
  • web.colorotate.org. This is a fun site that allows you to create color palettes. It also has some great material on the “Learn about Color” page.
  • kuler.adobe.com. Another great color palette site that lets you experiment with color theory rules.

Has color made a difference in your marketing campaigns? Tell us in the comments below, or tweet your responses using the hashtag #mcgblog.