The psychology of color is an interesting thing. It’s the real deal – grad students all over the world subject themselves to thousands of dollars of debt in order to study the way human behavior is affected by color. They write books, visit talk shows and speak on NPR. You can access detailed information about color-related perception easily and with almost no effort. There are wonderful info-graphics like this one floating around on Pinterest, free for the taking. And what do most businesses do with this wealth of information? Absolutely nothing. It’s true. See, we humans are creatures of habit. The average person likes that with which they are comfortable. Business owners and executives are no different. If you ask the typical executive what colors their company’s logo should be, they will answer with one of two things. They might choose the colors of the logo of the company they most admire and respect, or they might choose the color pallet that was most popular during their formative years. This is a problem because this method of selecting colors misses the opportunity to communicate with your audience about your company’s product, mission and style. In fact, you are accidentally communicating the WRONG ideas about your company, and you don’t even know it. Mimicking a well-known logo may feel safe, but it’s really not a good idea.
Here’s a good example:
The Scharf Financial Services specializes in retirement investment planning and asset preservation. Their logo features blue, a color that inspires trust and calm. It’s the most gender neutral color, equally appealing to men and women. It feels safe, staid, traditional. In addition, their accent color is gray, the international symbol for serious and institutional. Scharf is doing it right for their product and their audience. Nobody wants to risk their losing their retirement funds. They want a BLUE and GRAY company to invest for them. But what if your business is skydiving? Skydivers want a certain amount of risk. Yes, they absolutely want to feel safe, but they are certainly NOT looking for staid and traditional.
Here’s a great example of correct color choice:
Green is the color of nature, stable and calm. It represents the outdoors, activity and wildlife – all things that may appeal to a skydiving client. In addition, they’ve chosen a bright and currently stylish shade of green. Skydiving is hip. Any marketing representing skydiving needs to be in a very “now” color pallet. Their mascot is a great shade of orange, a color known for excitement, fun and vibrancy. But you’ll notice there is a lot more green (physical safety) than orange (excitement and risk). Skydivers do want to live to see another jump! All of this is subconscious, happening deep in the client’s mind. But it is happening, make no mistake.
The takeaway is this: when designing logos, website color pallets and any marketing materials, make sure you take color choice into account. It can be the deciding factor between your company and another in the mind of your client.
Lezli Goodwin is Creative Director for Mad Science Consulting. She finds extreme joy in helping clients find their footing in the nebulous areas of social media, blogging and small business marketing. Follow her on Twitter @madscienceinc www.madscienceconsulting.com