The Psychology Behind Different Colours Used in Advertising

Marketers have spent a huge amount of time and money trying to figure out just how colour affects people’s perceptions of brands and products. While the results of this research are not clear cut, one thing is certain: Effective choice of colours in your advertising and marketing campaigns can make a huge difference to how your product is perceived.

This article looks at some of the most common colours and teases out the psychological message they convey to consumers. This is for general information only and when crafting your brand image it will probably be useful to use the services of a professional design company such as 4040 Creative.


White can be used to signify purity, safety, simplicity, coolness, innocence and cleanliness. White is commonly used in advertising and marketing of health products, healthy foods, and beauty and spa treatments. Like many colours, white has different meanings in different cultures, so keep this in mind when deciding on marketing materials for different countries – in China and many Asian cultures, the colour white is associated with mourning and death.


The colour black is often to represent power, elegance, formality, luxury, death, evil, and mystery.
Many luxury brands such as Chanel and Jaguar use black in combination with other solid colours such as gold and silver to create and image of sophistication and exclusiveness. Using black also helps add a feeling of seriousness and formality in your marketing campaign.


The colour red is associated with action, passion, excitement, intensity and love and it is also often used by fast food companies as it is said to increase appetite. Red is considered an emotionally intense colour and has very high visibility, helping your message to stand out in a crowded marketplace. Red encourages action from the consumer, so it is perfect for action commands such as on “click here” and “buy now” buttons on your website. It is also often used to evoke erotic feelings and can help users associate your product with virility, arousal, desire and physical activity.


In studies of people’s favourite colours, blue frequently emerges as the colour most favoured by men, but also strongly favoured by women. Blue represents loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, stability and security. Blue is often used by large corporations to convey a feeling of reliability and trustworthiness.


Yellow is often associated with feelings of joy, happiness, intellect, energy, excitement, and fun. While yellow can be very eye-catching, too much yellow can be overwhelming and is best used in combination with other colours.


The colour green can be used to signify growth, nature, peace, harmony, freshness, and fertility. It is also commonly associated with money and feelings of safety. Eco-friendly and healthy products often use green to convey their message. Also financial and investment services can use it to create an image of money, wealth and financial safety.

As you can see, various colours can convey subtle meaning and evoke sub-conscious responses when used effectively in advertising. Do you agree with this article? Do you think colours are powerful? Share your thoughts below.

Image credit: Roman Iakoubtchik  on Flickr.