Psychology of colour and marketing

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Colour determines buyer’s choices. It can be such a powerful marketing tool that it accounts for 85% of the reason why someone decides to purchase a product. This is why, marketers should understand the psychology of colour in order to use it effectively.

Colours are associated with meanings. These associations are studied broadly in marketing research. This article presents information on how the psychology of colour influences purchasing behaviour as it relates to product design, company branding, and the consumer. Nearly all products or services sold today have colourful facades. Selecting the right colours to use has an enormous impact on product sales. While no single set of rules governs colour choices, research has established general guidelines based on the principle of associative learning, the relationship between colour and emotion.

Below is a quick overview of the meaning of basic colours in the Western Hemisphere. This information will help you decide what colours to use in your marketing projects. The psychology of colour changes with lighter or darker shades of the colours below, which are often associated with much different meanings. Also remember for the World Wide Web, that different cultures have differing views on the meaning of colour.


Black is the colour of authority and power, stability and strength. It is also the colour associated with intelligence (doctorate in black robe; black horn rimmed glasses, etc.) Black clothes make people appear thinner. It’s a sombre colour sometimes associated with evil (the cowboy in the black hat was almost always the “bad guy”). In the western hemisphere black is associated with grieving. Black is a serious colour that evokes strong emotions; it is easy to overwhelm people with too much black.


For most of the world this is the colour associated with purity (wedding dresses); cleanliness (doctors in white coats) and the safety of bright light (things go bump in the night … not the bright sunshine!). It is also used to project the absence of colour, or neutrality. In some eastern parts of the world, white is associated with mourning. White is also associated with creativity (white boards, blank slates). It is a compression of all the colours in the colour spectrum.


Gray is most associated with the practical, timeless, middle-of-the-road, solid things in life. Too much gray leads to feeling mostly nothing; but a bit of gray will add that rock solid feeling to your product. Some shades of gray are associated with old age, death, taxes, depression or a lost sense of direction.


If you want to draw attention, use red. It is often where the eye looks first. Red is the colour of energy. It’s associated with movement and excitement. People surrounded by red find their heart beating a little faster and often report feeling a bit out of breath. It’s the absolute wrong colour for a baby’s room but perfect to get people excited.


Ask people their favourite colour and a clear majority will say blue. Much of the world is blue (skies, seas). Seeing the colour blue actually causes the body to produce chemicals that are calming; but that isn’t true of all shades of blue. Some shades (or too much blue) can send a cold and uncaring message. Many bedrooms are blue because it’s a calm, restful colour. Over the ages blue has become associated with steadfastness, dependability, wisdom and loyalty (note how many uniforms are blue).


The colour of growth, nature, and money ($$$). A calming colour also that’s very pleasing to the senses. Dark forest green is associated with terms like conservative, masculine and wealth. Hospitals use light green rooms because they are found to be calming to patients.


Cheerful yellow is the colour of the sun, associated with laughter, happiness and good times. A person surrounded by yellow feels optimistic because the brain actually releases more serotonin (the feel good chemical in the brain) when around this colour. It is the colour associated with optimism but be careful with yellow; when intense, it is the colour of flames and studies show babies cry more in (bright) yellow rooms and tempers flare more around that colour too. It has the power to speed up our metabolism and bring out some creative thoughts (legal tablets are yellow for a good reason!).


The most flamboyant colour on the planet! It’s the colour tied most this fun times, happy and energetic days, warmth and organic products. It is also associated with ambition. There is nothing even remotely calm associated with this colour. Orange is associated with a new dawn in attitude.


What colour were the robes of kings and queens? Yes, they were purple, our most royal colour that is associated with wealth, prosperity, rich sophistication. This colour stimulates the brain activity used in problem solving. However, when overused in a common setting it is associated with putting on airs and being artificial.

Most Favorite Colours:

Men’s Favorite Colours

Women’s Favorite Colours

Most Disliked Colours:

Men’s Least Favorite Colours

Women’s Least Favorite Colours

Preference is the key


  • to purchase – to buy something
  • to pertain to sth – odnosić się do czegoś, wiązać się z czymś
  • to govern – to influence or control the way something happens or is done – określać, regulować
  • Western Hemisphere – Półkula zachodnia
  • shade – a colour, especially when referring to how dark or light it is – odcień
  • black horn rimmed glasses – link
  • sombre – dark and without bright colours – ciemny, ponury / or sad and serious – ponury, posępny
  • to grieve – to feel or express great sadness, especially when someone dies – być pogrążonym w smutku lub żałobie
  • to evoke – to make someone remember something or feel an emotion – przywoływać, wywoływać
  • to overwhelm – if a feeling or situation overwhelms someone, it has an effect that is too strong or extreme – przytłaczać
  • purity – the quality of being pure – czystość
  • things that go bump in the night – used to describe anything unknown that might be frightening, especially a noise – coś co „strasznie” hałasuje w nocy
  • mourning – when someone mourns the death of someone else – żałoba
  • blank slate – is the epistemological thesis that individual human beings are born with no built-in mental content – tabula rasa
  • slate – a dark grey rock that can easily be cut into thin pieces, or a small, flat piece of this used to cover a roof – łupek, płytka łupkowa
  • be surrounded by sb/sth – to have a lot of people or things near you – być otoczony kimś/czymś
  • steadfast – refusing to change your beliefs or what you are doing – niewzruszony, niezachwiany, niezłomny
    steadfastness – niezłomność
  • temper – when someone becomes angry very easily – (zły) humor, (wybuchowy) charakter
  • to flare – if something bad such as anger or pain flares or flares up, it suddenly starts or gets worse – wybuchnąć
  • flamboyant – flamboyant clothes or colours are very bright and noticeable – krzykliwy
  • new dawn – nowy dzień
  • dawn – the early morning when light first appears in the sky – świt
  • attitude – how you think or feel about something and how this makes you behave – postawa, stosunek
  • robe – a long, loose piece of clothing, often something that is worn for ceremonies or special occasions – szata
  • sophisticated – well-educated and having experience of the world or knowledge of culture – wyrobiony, obyty
    sophistication – wyrobienie, obycie
  • artificial – not sincere – sztuczny, nieszczery

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