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Color and Marketing

Colored-Pencils-graphic_v1If you’ve been following my Twitter stream, Facebook page or Linked In profile, you may have noticed I often write about how color fits into marketing. Maybe it’s because as the days get grayer and all the beautiful fall leaves have disappeared, I just need something to brighten my days. In any case, it’s pretty cool stuff. Whether you are in psychology or marketing, this topic has some good research behind it, and if you are on the design or art side of business, lucky you…you get to work with colors more than most of us. So here is a quick primer on what colors might mean to customers and audiences of your marketing messages.

  • Blue – conservative, trustworthy, honest (think of how many banks use blue)
  • Red – passion, excitement (plenty of car ads but also associated with money in some Asian countries)
  • Black – quality, elegance, sophistication (think of high end car ads, costly vodka or perfume)
  • Green – eco-friendly, safe and peaceful, oddly not usually associated with money (many spas use a light green)
  • Yellow – energetic and playful but hard to take and hard to see (and so not used too much in marketing)
  • Purple – usually associated with royalty but popular with youth (especially marketing to young girls)
  • Orange – energy and enthusiasm (supposedly the best color for “buy” buttons on the web…think Amazon!)

And of course, no matter what colors you use, be advised that there are different color systems for print and digital use. So if you are printing, you will want to set up your design in CMYK, which stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (the “K” is actually for key which refers to black). If you are only designing for web or digital use, then RGB is the appropriate system. RGB stands for Red, Green and Black. In short, for RGB systems, colors get “added” together to make most of the colors that we will need to use. CMYK is a bit more complicated and colors are “subtracted” from natural white and converted to inks or pigments and then printed. I know my printing friends can give you a better explanation, but that’s the basic idea.

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