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using color psychology to boost your marketing efforts


using color psychology to boost your marketing efforts

find out which colors will influence your customer’s behavior

We are in the color business. We can’t get enough of our cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK) ink and how adding just a few colors together can get you every imaginable color in the wheel. We are also in the marketing business. We love how a scratch off card can influence someone’s buying behavior and their experience with a business.

So what happens when you combine colors and marketing? You get color psychology. It’s the study of how different colors stimulate the brain, affect our emotions, and influence our decision making. We know that first impressions and subconscious judgments can be everything to a marketing campaign. Color psychology can make those first impressions even stronger.

So let’s dive into the meaning of colors. By looking at the personality traits and what behaviors it drives, you can find the best colors to use for your business to positively influence your customer’s behavior.

color psychology meanings

power + passion + energetic

Red attracts the most attention, more than any other color. It creates a sense of urgency and gets people to act. That makes it a great color choice for a flash sale or your call-to-action button on an email or website. It’s also popular in the food and beverage industries because it can increase thirst and appetite. Not sure about you, but I’m all the sudden craving a Coke.

On the other hand, red can also signify danger or a warning. So you want to be careful with how you are using the color to avoid any negative reactions.

This Target ad is a great example of using red to influence customers. It brings in both excitement of shopping and the urgency of a good deal in just three words for their Black Friday sales.

Target ad ready set save


optimism + happiness + creativity

Yellow portrays sunshine and youthfulness. Taxi cabs are painted bright yellow because it’s an attention-getter. Yellow can be a good motivator and powerful when combined with a darker color. However, when designing with yellow, make sure you find the right shade of yellow as some can look dirty. You should also avoid it as a font color since it can be more difficult to read.

Fun fact: Yellow is the color babies respond to first, though often crying when they see it.

It’s no wonder why Snapchat chose yellow when it was founded as their primary color. Yellow is playful and reminds people immediately that it’s youthful and fun.

warmth + motivation + competition

Orange combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. It’s a very bright and fun color which can be great for a non-traditional brand. Because of its association with the sun, it gives you a warm feeling providing comfort in tough times and a sense of joy in the good times.

Orange is known for being cautious, but also for being cheap or inexpensive. This is why you may see it used for companies like Amazon or Payless Shoes who are wanting to convey that they are the source for low-cost brands.

This ad by Southwest, a low-cost airline, uses orange to bring out a sense of joy when thinking about how your travels could improve flying with them. It also gives you the motivation to purchase a business select ticket.

southewest ad with yellow background


harmony + health + prosperity

Green is synonymous with all things nature, health, and wellness. It is relaxing and stress-reducing as it provides us a clear sense of right and wrong (i.e. a stoplight). It is linked to prosperity and money so benefits the financial industry, but be careful in its use as it can also bring out feelings of envy and greed.

We appreciate how Starbucks uses green in their marketing. It immediately wants us to relax in their cafe with a tea or coffee.

trust + dependability + social

Blue is the most universally liked color across the world which isn’t surprising given the calming effect it has on the mind. It brings a sense of trust when building relationships, especially in marketing. It promotes communications and is the color of choice for most social media logos.

There are potential negatives of blue to watch out for. When used with other colors, it’s the last one the brain registers so you want to be careful of how and where you use the color in your marketing. Additionally, it can suppress appetite since there aren’t any natural bright blue foods found in nature so would be a good color to avoid for the food industry.

American Express uses blue to promote their small business tools because it provides a sense of trust and stability in a stressful situation.

american express small business ad_color_psychology


royalty + imagination + spirituality

Purple combines the energy and power of red with the stability and trust of blue. It’s a color that rarely appears in nature and if it does, only in small amounts, leading it to feel royal, precious, and prestigious. Purple can be seen as overly extravagant so don’t go overboard if that isn’t your intention. It also represents wisdom, spirituality, and often the supernatural. Since more women prefer purple than men, it lends itself to be more feminine.

Synonymous with royalty, the Hallmark brands use both purple and a crown in their logo. Purple is a great color choice as it plays off the wisdom in their greeting cards and the appeal to women with movies on the Hallmark Channel.

hallmark make your mark


compassion + imaginative + femininity

Pink is the color for breast cancer awareness month for a reason: it is a sign of hope and carries feelings of empathy and sensitivity. It’s also feminine, making it a very romantic color. Lesser-known qualities are that it can bring out confidence and an imaginative side. However, be careful in its use because if too much pink is used, it can be seen as immature or show a lack of power.

We love this Ikea ad for its appeal to women, the understanding of their storage needs, and the creative way they show that there are many sides to a woman and it’s not always frills and high heels.

Ikea ad pink heel and converse shoe


putting color psychology to work

When approaching what colors to use in your marketing and advertisements, start with your customer and what actions you want them to take. Answering these questions, along with the color descriptions above will set you on the right path to choosing the best color for your message:

  1. Who is your ideal customer for this ad, breaking them down into different demographics?
  2. How do you want them to feel when seeing your ad?
  3. What action do you want them to take after seeing it?

At Mr. Scratch Off, we understand just how important color psychology is when it comes to your printing and marketing. That’s why we’ve invested in the latest technology to bring your scratch off cards to life with full color. Learn more about that and how to design your next scratch off card using all the colors of the rainbow here.

What color will you use in your next marketing piece?