Effects of Color on Behavior, Part 2

Which color to choose

Specifically, what are the effects of color on behavior for business?

In our post about the effects of color on behavior, Part 1, we discussed how different colors elicit different responses. Red is the color that creates energy. Orange is color of the tropics and joy (of course). The scientific basis for the physiological response to color is psychoneuroimmunology, or PNI. For your convenience, if you’d like to review Part 1 of our discussion on color here’s a link. http://wp.me/p4tQDL-vm.

It’s important to note that the effect of color on behavior is subtle. Subliminal. Subconscious. Your reader will not hum, “I’m feeling calm” if you use the color blue. Nor will he/she stand up and shout, “I’m feeling energized” when seeing your website in red. But color will affect behavior, providing impetus to the reaction you intended. Of course, if your design and copy is blah, blah, blah, nothing is going to help…not even color.

The winner is—Black and White with a splash of red.

Years ago the Direct Marketing Association conducted research to find out which were the most powerful direct mail creatives: black and white, two color or four-color. They discovered the direct mail that received the highest response was produced in black and white with red accents. It was the use of red, sparingly, that appeared to have energized readers to respond. As far as I know the DMA has not conducted follow-up research to determine if this still holds true. Regardless, the important point is the research demonstrated that “red” did energize the readers.

The last in the series in the color palette

In Part 1, we reviewed four colors and their meanings: red, orange, yellow and green. In this part, we will describe the  final four: blue, purple, white and black.

The meaning of the color blue

The color of the sky and sea

Blue is often associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven.

Blue is considered beneficial to the mind and body. It slows human metabolism and produces a calming effect. Blue is strongly associated with tranquility and calmness. In heraldry, blue is used to symbolize piety and sincerity.

You can use blue to promote products and services related to cleanliness (water purification filters, cleaning liquids, vodka), air and sky (airlines, airports, air conditioners), water and sea (sea voyages, mineral water). As opposed to emotionally warm colors like red, orange, and yellow; blue is linked to consciousness and intellect. Use blue to suggest precision when promoting high-tech products.

Blue is a masculine color; according to studies, it is highly accepted among males. Dark blue is associated with depth, expertise, and stability; it is a preferred color for corporate America.

Avoid using blue when promoting food and cooking, because blue suppresses appetite. When used together with warm colors like yellow or red, blue can create high-impact, vibrant designs; for example, blue-yellow-red is a perfect color scheme for a superhero.

Light blue is associated with health, healing, tranquility, understanding, and softness.
Dark blue represents knowledge, power, integrity, and seriousness.

Word purple in a speech bubble

Combines the stability of blue

and the energy of red

Purple is associated with royalty. It symbolizes power, nobility, luxury, and ambition. It conveys wealth and extravagance. Purple is associated with wisdom, dignity, independence, creativity, mystery, and magic.

According to surveys, almost 75 percent of pre-adolescent children prefer purple to all other colors. Purple is a very rare color in nature; some people consider it to be artificial.

Light purple is a good choice for a feminine design. You can use bright purple when promoting children’s products.

Light purple evokes romantic and nostalgic feelings.

Dark purple evokes gloom and sad feelings. It can cause frustration.

Speech bubble with the word white inside

Associated with light, goodness, innocence, purity, virginity and perfection

White means safety, purity, and cleanliness. As opposed to black, white usually has a positive connotation. White can represent a successful beginning. In heraldry, white depicts faith and purity.

In advertising, white is associated with coolness and cleanliness because it’s the color of snow. You can use white to suggest simplicity in high-tech products. White is an appropriate color for charitable organizations; angels are usually imagined wearing white clothes. White is associated with hospitals, doctors, and sterility, so you can use white to suggest safety when promoting medical products. White is often associated with low weight, low-fat food, and dairy products.

Speech bubble with word black inside

Associated with power, elegance, formality, death, evil, and mystery.

Black is a mysterious color associated with fear and the unknown (black holes). It usually has a negative connotation (blacklist, black humor, ‘black death’). Black denotes strength and authority; it is considered to be a very formal, elegant, and prestigious color (black tie, black Mercedes). In heraldry, black is the symbol of grief.

Black gives the feeling of perspective and depth, but a black background diminishes readability. A black suit or dress can make you look thinner. When designing for a gallery of art or photography, you can use a black or gray background to make the other colors stand out. Black contrasts well with bright colors. Combined with red or orange – other very powerful colors – black gives a very aggressive color scheme.

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References: 

If you would like to learn more about color and its impact on behavior, here are three resources I think most valuable:

Color & Human Response by Faber Birren

Pantone Guide to Communication with Color

http://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/business-color.html

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If you would like to design marketing materials using words, design and colors for maximum impact, please contact Rochelle Sollish at rsollish@themarketinggarage.com. She would be happy to assist you get your business engine into high gear.

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Effects of Color on Behavior, Part 2

  1. Thanks Rochelle for these two articles. I found them interesting and authentic.
    I hope your business is going well. Miss you though.

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