The Psychology of Colour for Business

There are many factors that influence how and what consumers buy.  A large part of every decision is based on visual cues and the strongest and most persuasive is colour.  An understanding of color meanings in business gives us an invaluable tool to get the best response to our marketing and promotional efforts and ultimately to create a successful business.

~  85% of shoppers will place colour as a primary reason for why they buy a particular product.
~  Colour increases brand recognition by 80% (we all know who we are talking about when we mention yellow arches!) and brand recognition directly links to consumer confidence.

The meanings of colour

Colour is not entirely universal and differs between male and females, young and old, between cultures and religions.  In Western countries the way colours effect us are outlined below.


Yellow – optimistic and youthful.  Used to grab attention of window shoppers.  An illuminating and uplifting color which stimulates our analytical processes and assists with mental clarity.


Red – Energy, increases heart rate, creates urgency and generally used in sales.  A color which calls for action to be taken.  Its high energy and strength draws attention to itself and demands to be noticed.



Blue – Creates the sensation of trust and security, often seen with banks and businesses.  Blue is the safest color to use in most applications, implying honesty, trust and dependability.



Green – associated with wealth, the easiest colour for the eye to process.  Used in stores to relax customers.  Green is associated with nature, health and healing. It balances the emotions and inspires compassion.



Orange – Aggressive, creates a call to action: subscribe, buy or sell.  Orange is a color of adventure which inspires and creates enthusiasm. It is optimistic and sociable and suggests affordability.

Pink – Romantic and feminine, used to market products to young girls and women.  Pink inspires compassion and nurturing. It is a non-threatening color used most often in feminine businesses.



Black –  Powerful and sleek, used to market luxury items.  Black is the color of power and authority but in excess it can be intimidating and unfriendly.



Purple –  used to sooth and calm, often seen in beauty and anti-aging products.  Purple implies wealth, quality, fantasy and creativity. It world well with many other colors.

Interesting colour facts

  • Yellow is psychologically the happiest colour on the colour spectrum
  • The comic book character Green Lantern was afraid of the colour yellow
  • Germany’s racing color is silver because in 1934, one of their cars was barely overweight, so they just scrapped the paint off leaving the silver body. The car won and the color stuck.
  • In 2001, scientists studied nearly 200,000 galaxies.  The average colour was called  “cosmic latte”.  According to research by astronomers of our universe is beige and white in color.
  • Feel the aggression and anxiety? Surround yourself with pink things. Pink has the property to calm the nerves.
  • Pencils have been painted yellow ever since the 1890s. The world’s best pencil graphite came from China. In China, the color yellow is associated with royalty, so American pencil manufacturers started painting their pencils yellow to indicate they contained high-quality Chinese graphite.
  • The matador’s red cape does not need to be red to provoke the bull. The bull is color blind. The red color hides splatters of blood from the audience during the finale stabbing.

Sources. Colour meaning in business.  KISSmetrics, How do colours effect purchases.

Jane Cluff

Jane Cluff

Senior digital strategist

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