How colour affects sales

Design Marketing

23 February 2012

Boost your sales with the right colour!

We all know that first impressions count, but did you know that a large portion of this subconscious judgement is based on colour alone? When it is your business making that impression, it could be the colours of your logo, the colours of your packaging, or even the colours of your walls in reception. That is why it is really important to make sure you are using the right colour.

Why are colours so important?

Studies have shown that colour can increase brand recognition substantially. Studies have also shown that colour can help us to process and store memories, making them easier to recall. There have also been tests that show that colour draws our attention and emphasise selected areas.

You may already be aware that different colours give people different feelings. Think, for example, of the amount of red, invoking the feeling of love, that you see around Valentine’s Day.

So what do colours mean?

The meanings of colours will differ for every single person, however people of the same culture tend to have a generalised, subconscious understanding of colour meanings.

To cover colours and their meanings, I want to start with the groups of colour feelings and then look at individual colours.

The feelings that colours give people have been broken into three groups; cool, warm, and neutral. The individual feelings of the colours in each group are similar.

Cool colours

Cool colours give people a feeling of calm and trust.

Colour Meaning Uses
Blue
  • Calm
  • Trustworthiness
  • Confidence

 

 

  • Can be an appetite suppressant.
  • Considered to safe to use internationally, because of no negative associations with any culture.
  • It is a popular colour in branding and therefore may not make your brand stand out.
Green
  • Nature
  • Growth
  • Health
  • Fresh
  • Easiest colour on the eye
  • Preferred by the elderly.
  • Great when used in health and fitness.
Dark Purple
  • Royalty
  • Spirituality
  • Wisdom
  • Can give impression of premium service
  • Great in mental care, as it helps bring clarity.
  • Induces sleep and relaxation, so great in a hotel.
  • Best target at the 18-25 year old market, as seen as sexy and rebellious.
  • Often used by creative professionals, psychics, cosmetic manufacturers, hotels, and life coaches.

Warm colours

Warm colours give feeling of speed and excitement.

Colour Meaning Uses
Red
  • Power
  • Excitement
  • Love
  • Danger
  • Speed
  • Appetite stimulate.
  • Great for restaurants.
  • Can create excitement in brands.
Pink
  • Soft
  • Innocent
  • Feminine
  • Tender
  • Youth
  • Associated with trendy products with affordable price.
  • Great for cosmetics, beauty salons and fashion businesses.
Orange
  • Creative
  • Courage
  • Playful
  • Friendly
  • Can be overwhelming alone but an orange accent can give life and energy.
Yellow
  • Happiness
  • Curiosity
  • Caution
  • Amusement
  • Great for getting attention, as it is the first colour noticed.
  • Helps people feel optimistic.
  • Too much bright yellow can cause agitation.
  • Suitable for any business that promotes fun and entertainment, e.g. fast food.

 

Neutral colours

Neutral colours give a feeling of class and dignity.

Colour Meaning Uses
White
  • Pure
  • Clean
  • Youthful
  • Simple
  • Implies sterility, so worn by people in medical industry.
  • Too much can give feeling of isolation.
Black
  • Sophisticated
  • Elegant
  • Mysterious
  • Formal
  • Classic
  • Serious
  • Favourable to businesses selling luxury and sophistication, e.g. high end products, music and photography businesses.
Grey/Silver
  • Sleek
  • Smooth
  • Modern
  • Suitable for technology related businesses, legal and finance.
Brown
  • Earthy
  • Dependable
  • Wholesome
  • Friendly
  • Often used by businesses with a connection to the outdoors, e.g. farming and earthmoving.
  • Works well with organic products.

Using colours together

As well as the meanings of individual colours, it is important to keep in mind how using colours together can give them a new meaning. For example, red and green together gives the feeling of Christmas; red and blue represent hot and cold, for example on taps; and red, amber and green together invoke thoughts of traffic signals.

Colours across cultures

As mentioned before, a large part of the meaning given to colours is through culture. This means that cultures across the world hold different meanings for different colours.

For example, we all know the traditional colour of morning in Western cultures is black. But did you know that it is red in South Africa, yellow or orange in Egypt, purple in Thailand, yellow in Ethiopia, brown in India, and white in Peru, Iran, China, and other Eastern cultures.

This means that when you are selling across cultural boarders, you need to be especially mindful of the colour you choose.

How others are using colour

Think of your favourite fast food restaurant and the colours they use in their logo. They are warm colours, right? That is because these colours give their customers a feeling of speed.

What about the local university or doctors surgery – cool colours? That’s because these colours give a feeling of trust and dependence.

How to make sure you are using the right colours

Before you even start to think about your colours, you need to think about your target market. What type of people are they and what do you want your logo/packaging/reception to make them feel (see the tables above)?

When you have the answers to these questions you should have some ideas of what colours you would like to choose. Now you need to consider what attitude your target market have to these colours. For example, it would be redundant to choose pink because it is a warm colour, when your main target market is male. This is because pink is a colour strongly associated with females.

There is a lot to consider when choosing colours, Italic Creative have been helping businesses choose and use the right colours for over 10 years. If you would like us to help you find a colour to boost your sales, contact us.