You stop at red, you go at green, yellow is your warning and the most beautiful sky is always the bluest. Color impacts your world, directs your decisions, affects your heart rate, and changes your mind. Color activates your brain. It engages, informs, and attracts – but above all – color affects emotion.

yellow subway train

This is part one of a two-part post to remind you that color decisions should be made based on the core values and personality of your brand – and with the emotional drivers of your audiences in mind.

First, color theory is not an exact science. However, studies show the undeniable impact of color. According to researchers:

  • We make a subconscious judgment about a person, environment, or product within 90 seconds and color accounts for over 60% of that acceptance or rejection
  • Color is considered your best guide to making healthier food choices
  • Color increases brand recognition by up to 80%
  • Color visuals increase the willingness to read by 80%
  • Color improves comprehension by 73%

Wonder why Post-It® notes and legal pads are usually yellow*?  Or why your “sleepy-time” pills are usually blue?

In some cases, we don’t recognize how much impact color has on us until it changes. Case in point, consider the phenomenal success Heinz® EZ Squirt Blastin’ Green ketchup has had in the marketplace. More than 10 million bottles were sold in the first seven months following its introduction. The result: $23 million in sales attributable to Heinz green ketchup – the highest sales increase in the brand’s history.

And everyone knows, that when Apple® brought color into a marketplace where it had not been seen before by introducing the colorful iMacs, they reinvigorated a brand that had suffered $1.8 billion of losses in two years prior.

Some prisons use pink for their uniforms or cells to help induce a calming effect. In studies of angry and aggressive inmates, Dr. Alexander Schauss, Ph.D., director of the American Institute for Biosocial Research, was the first to report the suppression of angry and antagonistic behavior among prisoners. He wrote, “Even if a person tries to be angry or aggressive in the presence of pink, he can’t. The heart muscles can’t race fast enough. It’s a tranquilizing color that saps your energy.” Looks like the color has your mind and your heart.

Did you choose the right colors for your brand? Hopefully so. But if you based your decision on your personal color choices, instead of those that connect with the hearts of your market, they’re probably wrong. Sorry, just email me and we’ll figure it out together.

>> Part two focuses on the emotions associated with different color sets and how you can use that info to create experiences for your customers.

* Because yellow is the first color processed by the brain and improves comprehension by 70%.

Source list:
– The Power of Color; Dr. Morton Walker; Avery Publishing Group; 1991
– Morton Walker, The Power of Color, Avery Publishing Group, 1993
– The Persuasive Properties of Color; Ronald E. Green; Marketing Communications, October 1984.
– Loyola University School of Business, Chicago, IL