Color Theory in Marketing

Questioning marketing decisions can give you a lot of insight into how you get trapped, or at least attracted, to products that you buy. Why do magazines all have titles in yellow type? Why are Apple computers completely white? Why do advertisements have so much red? When you ask these questions, the answer is simple. Color theory. The explanation of that answer is not quite as simple. How colors interact with the human eye. A lot of colors are chosen because they are appealing to the designer, however, an equal— or even larger— amount of those colors are chosen to bait and reel you in.

One of the main elements of marketing color theory is high contrast. Monochrome, in most cases, is a dull shine in comparison to contrasting colors. To effectively design media, maximizing contrast is more than a suggestion— it’s a rule of thumb. White on black, dark blue and bright orange, maybe even neon yellow and a dark muddy yellow. With high contrast, it gives every cover for a magazine, sign for a restaurant, and social media ad to make you stop and read, no matter how far you are.

While contrast is incredibly important, there is an equal importance on the temperature of a color. “Wait a minute. We don’t feel colors, we see them!” You’re absolutely right. When classifying colors by temperature, we have warm, cool, and neutral. Neutral are the monochrome colors we were talking about earlier, and the others are likely just as easy to guess. The red warmth of a flickering orange and yellow flame represent one side of the spectrum, while the blue chill of the purple mountains slide down the green trees of the mountains represent the other end. Each temperature is powerful in their own aspect. In culinary marketing, you will often see warm colors to attract the eye, they’re just a little more daring and attractive. Cool colors are more calming and advertise a more peaceful and quiet (or maybe comfortingly bustling) cafe, like a certain buck from the stars we all know.

Beyond contrast and temperatures, each business can create a sort of branding with certain colors. In-N-Out is always a bright yellow and red, and I can practically see the glowing Edwards theater sign in front of me right now— And who could forget the colors of your favorite sports team? Think about Apple and their signature, clean white. Creating a color is impossible, but a combination that is unique to you is no doubt going to make a difference in your marketing.

Now, the next time you’re walking down the street— look at how marketing is everywhere. Look at the genius of it all. Then, take it for your own and make a difference in your own way with your own business! (Or get enough cash on the side to score a great vacation.)

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