How Do Colors Influence What We Buy?

James Logie
Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

Do you subconsciously decide that you’ll buy something based on its color?

This may seem ridiculous, but color has more purchase influence than you realize.

It turns out that most of us have been reaching for specific brands without even realizing it was because of the color.

Certain colors used by different brands have had an enormous influence on our connection to those products.

Research from Journal Management Decision found that people can make 62% to 90% of their snap decisions about products just based on color.

For any entrepreneurs, brands, or business; how much attention have you paid to the color of your logos, products, and designs?

It may have a bigger impact than you realize.

Have you given this thought, or just thrown together a few colors you like?

Some say you shouldn’t spend that much time on them, but there’s a lot of significant information that says it’s worth paying some attention to.

Let’s break down how certain colors can influence people to make decisions and buy.

1. Red

Red is a strong, powerful color often associated with confidence. It also is connected to appetite and the desire to consume.

Red is famous for products like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s.

McDonald’s also uses smartly uses yellow — which will get to in a moment — but red is the primary color. And red is a powerful color when it comes to food companies.

Other big food companies that use red include:

  • KFC
  • Pizza Hut
  • Dairy Queen
  • Door Dash
  • Arby's
  • Chipotle
  • Burger King
  • Wendy’s

That’s just a small sampling, but ultimately, red is a key color in the food world.

Red doesn’t always mean hunger, but it seems to work for food-related products and companies.

If you sell anything to do with food, you may want to go with red in your logos and designs.

You also may want to use it if you’re selling anything adventurous.

The research shows that red is stimulating, exciting, and associated with activity.

This is why red is almost always used for sale signs as it conveys that sense of excitement.

2. Yellow

Yellow is big for communication. You will see it used in logos for companies like Best Buy, Nikon, UPS, and Sprint.

Yellow works well when you are selling a product that creates a positive emotion.

Yellow can stimulate passion within us. It can cause an emotional reaction as we often associate it with the sun.

This sense of warmth makes it an ideal choice for service-based companies. It may help to get a customer's guard down a bit as we associate yellow with happiness.

You can see why McDonald’s uses the perfect combination of red and yellow in their logos and branding. It triggers both desire, emotion, happiness, and possibly hunger.

There is also information that yellow makes us feel:

  • courage
  • fun
  • frugality
  • quality
  • reliability

If you are in a service-based business, you may want to consider yellow for your logo and branding.

Customers may associate it — and your products — as being pleasurable, fast, and accessible.

Side note: yellow and red are also interesting colors used by some businesses to fool workers and customers into thinking their buildings are warmer than they really are.

If you live in a cold environment, painting your walls red, yellow, or orange can make people think your place is a few degrees warmer than it actually is and can save money on heating bills.

3. Blue

We often associate blue with a cool feeling that doesn’t have much warmth and emotion.

You may think of it as a corporate color, and you’d be correct as blue is used in logos for American Express, IBM, Walmart, GE, Ford, HP, Dell, Facebook, etc.

Honestly, the list of companies like this that use blue in their logo is endless. Why do so many of them use blue?

Well, blue is often associated with dependability and trustworthiness.

These brands want to establish those things right off the bat, so if you work in a business that requires people to trust and depend on you — blue may be the way to go for your colors.

Blue is interesting as it is most people’s favorite color. One survey found that blue was the favorite color of 42% of the American public.

It is thought that we like blue the best as it’s based on our ancestors who connected it with clear skies and watering holes.

We also associate clear skies and water with tranquility and security, so blue is never a terrible choice for your business.

4. Orange

Another warm color, orange, is often connected with enthusiasm.

It is also associated with creativity. Some big companies with orange in their logos include:

  • amazon
  • Soundcloud
  • Nickelodeon
  • Orangetheory Fitness
  • Fanta

Nike has often used an orange logo because of its connection to enthusiasm, as does Hooters — take that any way you want.

Besides enthusiasm and warmth, orange is associated with clarity. Orange is pretty versatile and gives off a youthful vibe.

Orange makes an excellent choice for your brand or logo, as its warmth helps to push people to make decisions.

There’s some research behind this too, as orange has been seen to create an energetic effect, increase oxygen supply to the brain, and increases brain activity.

If you run a business that is based around creativity, music, or fitness — orange could be a superb choice for your brand and logos.

5. Black

Black is associated with power and authority. It is also associated with luxury and high-fashion brands.

Just think of logos for companies like Calvin Klein, Gucci, Chanel, Puma, Prada, Yves Saint Laurent, and Louis Vuitton.

If you are in the business of clothing, black will always be a simple and sleek way to get your brand and message across.

Even for an inferior product, the use of black on a design, logo, or product can make it seem more stylish and luxurious.

Black also works really well with anything to do with art and music — so this is always a great choice if this is your business.

Ultimately, black shows the confidence you have in your company or brand. It shows that you don't need excessive frills and exotic colors to get your point across.

It conveys stability and power. If you’re looking to make a statement with your brand and business — go with black.

6. Green

Green may be the simplest color to define as we easily associate it with nature, peace, and health. But it’s actually a bit more complicated.

When it comes to nature and health, you will see green used in logos for Whole Foods, Tropicana, John Deere, and Animal Planet.

Businesses that are health-related--or environmentally conscious--often use green.

Green is also used by companies like Starbucks and Spotify. In the case of Spotify, just a simple change in the shade of green caused a public backlash.

They started with a more yellow-green logo and then switched to a brighter shade.

The seemingly minor change upset a lot of people, but it was thought that this rebranding would help appeal to millennials.

But what about the other side of the green coin? This is a color also associated with wealth and money.

Green — like blue — is a cool color, which can help people feel less anxious.

This may be beneficial if you are working in a business that deals with money and finances, aka things that stress people out.

When it comes to money, you want people to trust you — and therefore green may be the best choice for your business colors.

Research shows that green is regarded as a color associated with trust and security.

Green also works well for kids, so it’s a color that’s not as straightforward as it seems.

7. Pink

In the corporate world, pink is the choice for companies trying to convey “femininity.”

You see pink used in logos for Cosmopolitan, Pink Victoria’s Secret, La Senza, Roxy, Barbie, and it’s the color used for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

The idea here is that pink is associated with:

  • playfulness
  • sensitivity
  • charm
  • romance
  • childhood

But it goes beyond this, as pink is still seen as a powerful color. You see it used by companies like T-Mobile, Baskin Robins, Pepto-Bismol, and Lyft among many others.

Yes, pink has a soft and gentle side, but ultimately — it’s an eye-catching color.

If your brand or business is based around treats or sweet things; pink is a straightforward decision.

Pink also works well for anything revolving around friendship, harmony, and approachability.

Ultimately — pink is about fun.

Final Thoughts

No matter the type of business you’re in: color does matter.

Research shows that color can increase brand recognition by 80%, so it’s worth taking some time to get it right.

No, business success will not depend on just its colors.

However, for entrepreneurs, it’s worth taking the time to consider which ones are best for you as they can still make a substantial impact.

It's also interesting to see how colors can really influence many of our purchasing decisions.

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Personal trainer, podcaster, Amazon best-selling author. Writing about some health, a little marketing, and a whole lot of 1980s.


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