Market With Color

During the recent APRO Conference in Memphis (Association of Progressive Rental Organizations) I attended a session about the importance of color in advertising. The speaker was Denise Turner of Color Turners.

All of the factors that contribute to the design of a promotional piece are important, of course—but be sure you don’t neglect the color choices.

Compared with black and white, color ads

  • Attract much more attention.
  • Are much more easily understood.
  • Are much more persuasive.
  • Increase the number of conversions.

The effective use of color can improve sales and visibility by as much as 50%.

The right colors will increase (or undermine) the results of your marketing because color carries emotional associations that are both personal and cultural. The appreciation of colors also reflects current fashion.

Color palettes

Colors today tend to be uplifting and nostalgic. Colors are apt to be conventional and comforting with accents that are bright and positive (but not unnatural). This establishes a tone of authenticity and optimism that makes the message more persuasive.

Expressive Color

Color stimulates the senses of viewers. Warm colors like red, orange and yellow seem energetic, passionate, adventurous, and creative. The cooler colors, blue, green, and purple, are calming, peaceful, relaxed, and soothing. Mood associations in countries around the world often include colors. (“I’m blue today,” or “Wear a power tie (red)” ).

Color and Diversity

For the first time in history, cultural minorities (blacks, Asians, and Spanish speakers) comprise the majority of births in the United States. Good marketers must be aware of the changing demographics and target subgroups as they plan and implement their brand strategies.

Asian Americans attach subtle traditional symbolisms to the uses of color. To avoid triggering negative associations, businesses must be aware of the symbolic meanings of color. For instance, the Chinese traditionally write obituaries in red ink so messages that include red text can be associated with death.

Just like Asians, Spanish speakers come from many different cultures. The stereotype is that they like bright colors, but who doesn’t? Looking at traditional clothing and artworks can be helpful if this is the community your business wants to target.

African Americans do not have common cultural associations, but the majority of them like warm saturated colors. As with Asians, when making color selections, it is helpful to look at examples from art and marketing.

Be aware of the influence of ethnicity in the reading of color, but also consider the goal of the message as you choose the color palette.

What’s your favorite color?

Temperament also impacts the response to color. Do you prefer red, or blue, or green? Some colors, especially in specific contexts, will strike a negative or positive chord. It is difficult to avoid these personal responses, but groups can be somewhat consistent among their members. For instance, studies show that light neutral green walls can be soothing to the patients in a hospital.

Choose Colors Carefully

As you select your colors ask yourself:

  • Who is your audience?  Describe them in terms of age, gender, culture, interests, personality, etc.
  • What do you want your audience to do?  Determine the desired outcome in terms of increased awareness, traffic, or sales.
  • What mood are you trying to project?  Establish the emotional response you intend to convey.
  • How does the color palette support the mood and the message?  Limit the number of colors you include in order to have harmony with a bit of contrast. Warm vs. cool, dark vs. light, neutral vs. bright will all contribute to the way the mood is communicated.

Once you have made those selections, test the way representatives of your target audience respond to the design. You can avoid unwelcome surprises if you ask a few people what they think. Their opinions will not be universal but could indicate potential problems you may not notice otherwise.

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