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How to Use Colors In Marketing and Advertising

Your brain uses colors to recognize traits about products and the brands that produce them. That’s why a shade of chartreuse that would feel appropriate for a PC is puke-inducing for a cupcake. In a nutshell, this is color psychology at work. Here’s a complete guide on how to use colors in marketing and advertising.

The associations our brains make with certain colors are key to bridging the gap between marketing materials and their target audiences.

When you look closely at commonly used colors in advertising for your industry, you’ll see many of the same ones popping up again and again. It’s not a coincidence, and they’re not just your competitors’ favorite colors! These are the colors that (research shows) audiences tend to connect with their needs and expectations from brands in your industry.

Choosing which colors are the ideal palette for your marketing and advertising efforts is part aesthetic, part testing and part science—much more a part than you probably realize. The science of color marketing is what we’re going to explore today to help you communicate your messages most effectively.


Colours communicate with us on an emotional level and are thus more effective at persuasion. A product’s color can convince us that it tastes fresher than the same product with a different color. It can even make medication (and placebos!) feel more effective.

Drug manufacturers lean on color associations to make sleeping pills blue due to its association with calmness, while stimulants are yellow and red because of their vibrancy and energy.

One example is this packaging design for a medical product which alleviates indigestion. Using yellow, it conveys a sense of well-being and health.

Source: Adwindesign

Although this might sound like magic, there’s data to support it. 85 percent of consumers cite color as the primary reason for choosing which products to buy. Additionally, up to 90 percent of impulse decisions about products are based solely on the products’ colors.


It’s one thing to know that colors are important in marketing and advertising, but the real challenge lies in harnessing color psychology to speak to your buyers.

For example, researchers have noted links between specific colors and behaviors, like red, royal blue, black and orange connecting easily with impulse buyers. For bargain hunters, the colors of choice are teal and navy blue.

Color psychology isn’t just about evoking certain emotions. It’s about using colors to meet consumers’ expectations for products and brands. Consider colors that are bad fits for certain products or types of services, like a bright yellow and orange logo for a bank or a brown or gray box for feminine hygiene products. These colors feel wrong to us because they don’t match our expectations.

The ways colors influence our perceptions of the world aren’t always obvious, nor are they always logical. Our associations with a color can even vary depending on our cultural backgrounds, our personal backgrounds and our individual tastes. But there are generalizations we can make based on the science of color psychology. Combine this with target audience research to get deeper insight into what your unique consumers prefer.


Here, we’ll go color-by-color to give you a breakdown of the best situations to use specific colors to meet your marketing and advertising goals.


Blue is typically regarded as a masculine color, but that’s not all blue brings to the table. A few other associations include:

  • Calmness and peace

  • Refreshing

  • Stability

  • Trustworthiness

  • Responsibility

  • Sadness

Source: Adwindesign


Lighter greens remind us of freshness, and darker greens evoke maturity. Some of the associations we tend to make with the color green are:

  • Finances

  • The environment, eco-friendliness

  • Health

  • Good luck

  • Growth

  • Harmony

Green is commonly seen in nature, economic exchange, health-based stores, and restaurants.

Still, it can be used in other contexts, such as in Spotify where green reflects the freshness and newness of the brand.

Source: Design Rush

Source: Priyo


Purple is mystical, mysterious and sensual—not a color we see often in nature. Depending on your business, these perceptions can often go hand-in-hand. Common associations we have with purple include:

  • Royalty, luxury

  • Magic

  • Mystery

  • Military honor

  • Wealth

  • Imagintion

  • Spirituality

Source: Impact


Red is an attention-grabbing, vibrant, hot color that is generally associated with:

  • Passion

  • High energy

  • Love

  • Warmth

  • Warfare

  • Anger

  • Danger

  • Confidence

Red is also known to boost viewers’ metabolisms and blood pressures, which makes it ideal for restaurant signage looking to whet the appetite of customers into coming in for a bite—especially a spicy bite.

The use of red in RedBull’s logo and branding is spot on with their message. RedBull is an energy drink and the color red evokes just that, energy and strength.

Source: Impact


Orange is a friendly and cheerful color that has a few traits in common with red, like warmth and high energy. Other associations consumers tend to make with the color orange are:

  • Youth

  • Affordability

  • Vitality, energy

  • Friendliness

  • Humor

Source: Impact


Customers associate yellow with optimism and affordability. It has the advantage of being both light and bold at the same time. Some of its basic associations are:

  • Energy

  • Happiness

  • Danger

  • Youth

  • Playfulness, fun

  • Warmth

Source: Impact


There’s a lot of psychology to unpack surrounding the color pink and its gendered associations, but here we’re just gonna cover what pink does in the marketing and advertising world. Pink can be:

  • Fun

  • Girly

  • Upbeat

  • Sweet

  • Delicate

  • Romantic

  • Peaceful

Pink is a popular color for bakeries because it’s sweet, just like the pastries they’re selling. It’s also the color for brands that are feminine and proud of it.

Source: Luz Viera


Grey stands for professionalism and practicality. You might think gray is boring, and in a lot of cases, it is. But gray doesn’t have to be boring. With the right marketing strategy, it can also be:

  • Neutral

  • Professional

  • Efficient

  • Formal

  • Corporate


Black might technically be the absence of color but it is also powerful and bold. These are some of the associations we have with black:

  • Luxury

  • Mystique

  • Power

  • Formality

  • Elegance

  • Darkness

  • Control

Couroazul utilizes black to exude affluence and a sense of exclusivity, which is important for a high-end leather company.

Source: Impact


Brown is a color you can trust. Brown has your back, brown’s been there by your side for years and it’ll still be there for years to come. For the UPS, brown gets packages to your home safely and on time and promises that anything you send with them will get to its destination unscathed. In marketing and advertising, brown tends to mean:

  • Reliable

  • Old-fashioned

  • Earthy

  • Masculine

  • Natural

  • Dependable

  • Warm

Brown also reminds people of sepia-toned photographs, making it a terrific choice for a brand that connects customers with their family histories by organizing their photos.

Source: DSKY


Hopefully, you now have a better sense of how the psychology of color works in marketing and advertising. The more you work with color in mind, the easier it will become to convey your unique branding message to your audience.

Using color strategically is more than just choosing what looks good to you. After all, there are people walking around out there today who think olive green and fuchsia are a match made in heaven—and for some businesses, maybe they are!

Looking for colours that will speak for you and your brand? We can create what you need, just drop us a message here!

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