Color in Marketing

Subliminal Messaging

Color has a significant role in Marketing, it provides additional context to words and images that can guide viewers in a specific direction. It’s widely accepted by psychologists, artists and marketing professionals that color has a psychological effect on people, though there have only been a handful of studies to prove that this is true. Colors are linked with emotions, and in every culture, there is a baseline association for specific hues. For example, white in most Western cultures is tied to purity, but in some Eastern cultures it’s associated with mourning. Listed below are the most common colors and their emotional attachments for the Oklahoma market.

First, take a little bit of time to analyze your ad copy – what’s the overall tone? Informative? Excited? Harrowing? After you determine the tone, you can narrow your color palette to enhance that tone. For example, if it’s an informative message, you wouldn’t want to use red or yellow because those associated emotions – excitement or hopeful – don’t align very well with being informative. But, blue or black would work well by accenting the message with a sense of propriety or security. 

Next, consider the image, if one is used. You should choose an image that has your color palette of choice or one that can be easily photoshopped. Color grading, or color correction, is manipulating the white balance and black point of an image to be warmer or cooler to fit the mood of the ad. It is a subtle but notable shift, that can really elevate the overall efficacy of an ad. It’s not that people notice when color grading is used – they notice when it isn’t used because it sticks out. When the entire ad is set in the same color tones – typography, images, and illustrations, the ad feels much more cohesive.

Call To Action statements, or CTA’s, should grab the viewer’s attention but they shouldn’t be read before the main message of the ad. One way to avoid this, is to give your typography hierarchy with color. Using slightly darker and lighter shades of the same color is a great way to distinguish CTA’s, without overpowering the headline. Research has proven that people are more likely to click on CTA’s or buttons when they are a cool color, versus a warm color. For example, a harrowing ad could use a warm color to reinforce a message like “Only 5 spots left!” with excitement and urgency.

Lastly, consider the accessibility of the colors used. You can use an online Contrast Checker to do this for free! All you have to do is enter the HEX codes to compare a foreground and background color for visual contrast. A ratio of 7:1 is the WCAG standard for viewers with vision loss or impairment. If your text is over an image, increasing the contrast can be difficult with color alone. There are two easy ways to fix that though – a drop shadow on the text and/or a gradient overlay on the image to darken only the area the text is in.

Instagram Post Slides

1. Cover

2. Matching the Message to a Color

3. Color Grading Images

4. Color Hierarchy in CTA’s

5. Color & Accessibility

Want to keep these helpful hints handy?