Color use in Advertising. How color theory helps brand marketing, advertising and promotion to be more effective?

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The best practices of color theory

Use of color

It’s a well-known fact that color ‘red’ inspires impulsive buying. Red is color of love and passion, red is dramatic even on a modest non-creative use. Our eyes are instantly drawn to the color like ducks to water when they see red in any form, be it print, outdoor, inside supermarkets, on Internet or TV. Just walk into any neighborhood or downtown supermarket and roll your eyes over products and merchandising. And you will realize that red is THE most often used color. After red its yellow. Both colors tend to raise your blood pressure just a tad and dilate your pupils. They cause excitement, which goes to prove one thing: color affects us.

The Science of Color

ince the time immemorial we consumers have been exposed to strategic set of color/s by the advertisers and the marketers. These colors enticed us to behave in a certain way that they want us to do. Colors not only encourage the consumers to take action to purchase a product or service, it also helps a brand build a long lasting impression on consumer’s mind. We may not buy a can of coke every time we see its ad, but we certainly remember that coke is red and while we are in a mood to gulp some drink, at the point of action, even if we see something in red (not Coke ad) we may sub consciously pick up the Coke can. In fact, over the years, the use of color in advertising and merchandising has gone up to something like pure science.

Though every time it’s not long term branding that plays on advertiser’s mind. A lot of times the exercise is done to spruce up the sales figures for the company’s services or products instantly.

Sometimes a color is solely chosen for the sole purpose of attracting instantaneous attention to the product or ad. On those occasions red and/or yellow are used. However, to break the monotony, because everyone else is doing that, visualizers blend of soft/hard colors to attract attention. For instance, Stagg Chili (image above) has been using black background with gold letters for long, given the subject that they are dealing with (ie chili) it would be quite appropriate if they had used a mesh of red in their advertising and marketing mix. But thoughtfully, they avoided red and no one can argue that they have not been able to create a strong brand at the end of the exercise. There can be innumerable examples for and against this.

Psychologist and Stanford professor Jennifer Aaker has conducted studies on this very topic via research on Dimensions of Brand Personality and color connect, and her studies have found five core dimensions that play a role in a brand’s personality:


The right colors depict and show off the true personality of the brand

What are the 10 commandments of color theory? And how to effectively use them in projects? These 10 commandments are a good place to begin, explains Sarah in Medium

01. Thou shall know thy color wheel
02. Thou shall match thy colors
03. Thou shall not be afraid to clash thy colors
04. Thou shall be mindful of contrast
05. Thou shall not be afraid of variation
06. Thou shall know what triadic means
07. Thou shall know when to go achromatic
08. Thou shall know thine hues, tints and shades
09. Thou shall know the difference between RGB, CMYK, and Pantone
10. Thou shall know when to go monochrome

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