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Colour in Digital Marketing: A beginner's guide

Choosing colours for your brand is a painstaking task and one that loses many company owners a lot of sleep.

Does it look professional? Is it saying the right things about the quality of your brand? Will it stand the test of time? 

Many psychologists believe that colour is intrinsically tied to emotion, so it’s worth thinking about those associations when attaching colour to your brand and marketing strategy.

Check out our tips and tricks to utilising colour and how some of the pros have nailed it.


colourful communication

Colour is one of the most powerful forms of non-verbal communication. In fact, in a study called the Impact of Colour in Marketing, researchers found that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on colour alone. Certain colours clearly align with certain perceptions and the colours you choose are what gives your brand its personality. For example:

      • Green is associated with natural or outdoorsy brands
      • Brown is associated with a rugged or traditional look
      • Purple indicates luxury
      • Pink suggests femininity
      • Red evokes excitement


Pink vs Blue

Gender and colour is sometimes a contentious issue, especially when it comes to pink and blue. That issue aside, KISSmetrics published an in-depth study into the kinds of associations we attach to colours and which colours we prefer. As a general rule, women preferred soft colours and tints, whilst men preferred bright colours and shades. You’ve only to take a walk down the male and female cosmetics aisles to spot the difference in marketing techniques with colour.

Our brains also prefer recognisable brands, and the colours that those brands use has a lot to do with their ‘recognisability’. For example, red and yellow? McDonalds. Hot hot pink? Barbie. We remember, associate with and trust memorable brands and colours.


Consumers attach generic meanings to colours:

  • Yellow: Happiness, optimism, warmth – great for shop windows
  • Orange: Friendliness, confidence, appetite – eye-catching food packaging
  • Red: Excitement, youthfulness, energetic, active – evident in clearance sales
  • Purple: Creativity, wisdom, calming, spiritual – used on beauty and anti-aging products
  • Blue: Dependability, strength, intuitive, cool – great for corporations, banks and business
  • Green: Peaceful, growth, health, soothing, natural – medical or natural products
  • Grey: Intellectual, neutral, authoritative – expensive gadgets love grey
  • Pink: Fun, vibrant, young – classically used on female centred products
  • Brown: Simplicity, seriousness, relaxed, rugged – popular for male beauty products
  • Black: Power, sleek, luxury, mysterious – on luxury brands and packaging
  • White: Purity, safety, cleanliness, mental clarity – medicinal products


How big brands use colour

– Adobe, Vodaphone and Coca Cola are all pioneers of red branding – which makes sense as they are all exciting, adventurous brands. They’ve all used red as their primary colour to make a bold statement.

– Orange and EasyJet are synonymous with orange – suggesting friendliness and, therefore, great customer service.

– Green screams nature. As do John Deere products, an iconic countryside symbol. Starbucks also use earthy greens, harking back to their bean growing days.

– Blue, as we’ve discussed, is indicative of a trustworthy and stalwart service… much like the NHS? Or even Facebook.

– Purple. Gorilla…Cadburys. Milky, chocolatey luxury. Purple used to be one of the most expensive and difficult to produce dyes, hence its association with wealth and luxury. Cadbury’s capitalised on this and differentiated themselves from other brown enrobed chocolate bars. 


How to get qualified in colour

The vast majority of marketing is online and is very visual. Branding experts and digital designers forge the face of brand across their social and virtual presence – and so could you.

Digital marketing has so many fingers in so many pies that it’s easy to find an area where you fit. If strategies, metrics and reports aren’t your style, perhaps something more artistic might be your bag?

To work in branding, colour and imagery, you need to start with a broad knowledge of digital marketing. This enables you to make informed decisions about a business’s direction and how that can be expressed through its branding package – including the colours it uses to express itself.

Just imagine – you could be the curator of the next Tiffany Blue or Selfridges Yellow.