Let us be up-front on one point: colors and marketing is not settled science. While some basics are considered conventional wisdom, there are many variables. Culture and life experience can affect your opinion on a given color.
However there is a body of evidence to support the idea that we respond to some colors. We will start with red because it is documented and seems the least controversial. Throughout nature and even in your car, bright red means danger or action.
You need to act now - be alert and ready to move. In the example below, we see that most fast-food restaurants pick red and yellow for their colors. These are all multi-billion dollar companies. They have serious experts and phycologist involved in every aspect of marketing; and yet they all seem to arrive at the same conclusion.
Several articles suggest that when a subject is placed in an MRI machine and shown the color red, his brain will light-up. We seem to be wired to act fast when we see the color red.
Staying with our restaurant example, we see if we move up the food chain a bit, red almost disappears. We purposely selected Applebee’s and Red Lobster in this illustration because they had no choice but to use red. Both decided to limit the amount used.
There are also articles that suggest red must be used with caution. A car buyer will negotiate harder and take a tougher line when purchasing a red car than he will a black one. Sometimes we don’t want our customers to move quickly or be decisive. Black cars are more profitable for dealers.
So perhaps we should use red sparingly and only when we need the client to take action, now. Have a special price and want the customer to act this second? Put the price in red.
Another example can be found right on this website: when the site was first created there was a stylish blue button that matched the rest of the buttons that read “Get Tips” on the Home Page. The button had the very best spot on the entire site yet didn’t get the expected clicks.
Simply changing the button to red and adding the words “Click Now” quadrupled the click-through rate for the button. In fact, the difference was so pronounced that it lowered the bounce rate for the entire site by almost 20%! Yes, red is powerful.
Another color that appears to find favor at the highest levels of expert marketing is blue. It is considered the color of competence and trust. Blue is on many national flags to signify truth. It has also been adopted by many big banks for the same reason.
Let’s turn our attention to the car. You need your car to work, it must work. At highway speeds, a failure could be fatal. The breaks must function and the tires cannot suddenly turn in a new direction. An automotive manufacture needs you trust. Even auto-makers with no blue in their logos, like Toyota, will slip some in.
Here is a quick list for a few other colors: