Colors Resonate With Consumers on a Subconscious Level. Here’s How Brands Can Leverage This in Strategies

They need to fit your audience and also your niche market

Different colors can have unique subconscious reactions for consumers. Getty Images
Headshot of Ross Kimbarovsky

How you use color in your business can amplify or ruin your brand strategy. That’s because color strongly influences human emotion and behavior.

In the CCI: Institute for Color Research’s study, 92.6 percent of people surveyed said that color was the most important factor when purchasing products. In fact, people’s subconscious judgment about products is influenced in 62 percent–90 percent of cases by color alone.

Here are three ways you can leverage color to strengthen your brand strategy and increase sales.

Make sure the colors fit your audience

Marketers use specific colors because those colors are known to lead to certain emotions. And while people perceive colors differently, most react in a similar way to various colors. For example, black conveys sophistication, intelligence and seriousness.

Many brands mistakenly focus solely on the general traits of certain colors. For example, financial brands often choose the color blue because it implies certain qualities such as trust and reliability.

But research shows that anticipating your audience’s reaction to a color and its relationship to your brand is more important than the actual color you use.

You must understand how design, including color, influences consumer behavior. Your customers and prospects will respond favorably and strongly to a color only if that color “fits” your brand and your business. For instance, the color pink doesn’t fit with a brand like Harley-Davidson, and black would be the wrong color for an organic health food store. It’s less important what color you choose and more important that you choose colors that highlight or accentuate the personality of your brand and products.

People’s subconscious judgment about products is influenced in 62 percent–90 percent of cases by color alone.

This is one reason why, today, Apple offers limited color choices for most of its products, despite Apple’s history of selling products like the colorful iMac. Apple knows that using the wrong color can ruin a brand’s strategy.

Heinz learned this lesson by experimenting with the color of its ketchup. Heinz’s “EZ Squirt” product was an attempt to rebrand ketchup and make it more attractive to kids. Heinz created a more attractive packaging design for the bottle and offered several new ketchup colors, including green, blue, purple, orange and teal. The product was initially a success, but consumers quickly lost interest and Heinz discontinued the product within six years.

Make sure the colors fit your marketing channel

While it’s important that you use colors that resonate with your audience, you also must know how those colors amplify or obscure your marketing.

Research shows that 42 percent more signs and advertisements are read when color (such as red) is used, versus black and white. Comprehension is boosted as well.

How can your company leverage this information to increase sales?

Let’s say that you have a fashion brand and your core brand color is orange. You want to use orange liberally inside your store. Should you? Research on the use of color in retail fashion stores shows that customers are more likely to return and make purchases in a store that uses a blue color scheme compared to orange. Therefore, you could make a hue of blue the dominant color in your fashion store and use orange to emphasize your brand.

In fact, certain colors cause a chemical reaction inside our bodies, and you can use this psychology to drive sales. Researchers found that viewing the color pink causes people’s endocrine system to slow down and their muscles to relax. If you’ve wondered why so many products connected to soothing problems (painkillers, stomach aids and female hygiene products) include pink in their packaging, now you know.

Leverage colors to increase conversions

Smart marketers use colors to increase conversions and click-through rates on their landing pages. They do this by differentiating call-to-action buttons or links in ways that prompt visitors to take actions. However, what works effectively for one company can be a disaster for another. Only A/B testing can uncover whether color changes to call-to-action buttons and links on your site can improve conversions.

For example, apparel company RIPT had a subtle arrow pointing to their monochrome Buy Now call-to-action button. RIPT ran an A/B test against a new green button and another test using yellow and emphasizing in the call-to-action button that special pricing was available only for 24 hours. RIPT increased sales by 6.3 percent, proving again that color can be a powerful marketing tool that amplifies your brand and marketing or it can ruin your brand strategy.

The most important takeaway is to be more intentional about how you choose colors for your business. And above all, don’t be boring.

@crowdspring Ross Kimbarovsky is founder and CEO at crowdspring and Startup Foundry.