The impact of colour for digital marketing

Design is a vital part of any marketing campaign, and digital marketing is no exception. For a successful campaign, many elements need to be considered – but what about colour? There’s various studies that attribute colour to a psychological response in the viewer. Can this be adapted to support a digital marketing campaign?

We explore below the influence of colour on emotional response, and how this can be useful in a digital marketing campaign.

Colour and purchases

Using colour within marketing is a fairly new discussion, despite colour psychology being a long-time research topic. However, there have been many scientific studies into the connection between shades and sales that appear to show a strong correlation. According to a Canadian experiment, nearly 90% of snap decisions regarding consumer products are based solely on colour.

Gender also has an effect on the response colour draws, some studies suggest, so it’s worth keeping in mind if your audience is majority male or majority female. For example, a study published in the Journal of Retailing found that men believed savings were much greater in value if they was advertised in red rather than black, while the difference was much smaller among women. The imbalance of colour psychology between males and females was also apparent in the study, Colour Assignment. Although blue was popular across the board, this study found that purple was a second-favourite colour for women but the second-least favourite among men. Similarly, other studies on colour attractiveness found that softer hues are preferred by women, while bold shades were liked by men. Are you using the right hues for your main consumer?

Depending on your marketing targets, different colours can be used to achieve that purpose. For example, studies have shown that yellow is utilised to grab attention and should perhaps be the colour of choice in store windows, while red is most people’s key indicator of discount prices and ‘urgency’ and should be used on clearance sales posters for optimum effect. Also, both these shades are warm colours. According to an experiment, these are better at sticking in a viewer’s memory than cool colours (like blue and green). So, it might be good to use them on promotional ads to keep consumers thinking about your offer for longer, as well as your brand logo itself to ensure you come to mind when they next need a product or service you offer.

Of course, you aren’t restricted to just one colour. Another study found that contrasting shades also improved readability — essential if you want your outdoor banner to be seen by more people from a greater distance.

Unique experiences and culture obviously have an influence on how colour is perceived on an emotional level, but you can still use general connotations from colour to suit your marketing needs in the precious few seconds you have to create a first impression.

Logos and colour meaning

From a brand perspective, how effective is colour? According to research compiled by Kissmetrics, 85% of shoppers surveyed say colour is a primary reason for buying something. Also, it was found that colour boosts brand recognition by around 80%.

Different colours are attributed to different responses. Here are the emotions associated with each colour and examples of the successful brands that use them:





Optimism and youth

Chupa Chups and McDonalds


Growth and relaxation

Starbucks and Asda


Romance and femininity

Barbie and Very


Creative and wise

Cadbury and Hallmark


Power and luxury

Chanel and Adidas


Confidence and happiness

Nickelodeon and Fanta


Energy and excitement

Coca Cola and Virgin Holidays


Trust and security

Barclays and the NHS

From the above, we can see how brands are matching colour psychology to their purpose. For example, inciting trust for a bank is important, which may be why Barclays chose blue, while Starbucks wants you to relax at their coffee shops and Virgin Holidays wants you to get excited about booking a trip.  According to June Mcleod, author of Colour Psychology Today: “One of the greatest assets and one of the easiest ways to sway decision or attract an emotive response — or alienate a consumer — is through colour. Purple with Cadbury; Shell with Yellow; National Trust with Green — they all work and work wonderfully well.”

Of course, you can interpret colour messages different ways, so there’s no right or wrong answer per sector; for example, Halifax and Santander use contrasting colours of blue and red respectively, despite both being in the same business. Consider the statistic that 80% of clients think a colour is accountable for brand recognition. If you want your customers to gain a sense of loyalty and familiarity with your brand, the colour should reflect your brand’s products, services and character.   

Colour in advertising campaigns

Colour psychology can help a brand at any stage of its campaign. Take beer company, Carlsberg, for example. The marketing team here worked to rebrand using colour with great success. Using white for its Carlberg Export packaging and changing its formerly green bottles to brown; the company achieved 10,000 new distribution points and a sales increase of 10% in the 12 weeks leading to summer in 2017.

Here are some ways that you can use colour within marketing:

  • Capitalise on the advantages of red and yellow: use these on your large print ads to increase the chances of catching the eyes of passers-by. 
  • Contrast your colours: as we discovered, using opposite shades (e.g. red and green) can improve text clarity — essential considering you have just seven seconds to make a bold first impression and get your point across.
  • Consider your demographic: there are clearly some difference in how men and women perceive colour. Who do you mainly sell to? If it’s men, perhaps take these gender studies on board and avoid purple…
  • Work out your brand’s ‘personality’: studies clearly show an affiliation between colour and emotion. Determine what you want consumers to think about your brand and choose a colour that reflects this ethos — whether it’s opulent (black) or fun (orange).

Boost your digital marketing with an influx of colour marketing and see how it changes your results.

This article was researched and created by Where The Trade Buys, who are UK experts of roll up banners and printing.


1 thought on “The impact of colour for digital marketing”

  1. Hi Klaus,

    Great article. You have shared such a nice piece of information. It is worth taking note of. I guess now I know the reason why Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft have blue color on their site. It gives visitors a feeling of security. Shopping sites have orange, yellow and red on them.

    Thanks for sharing, have a good day. 🙂


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