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The Color of Money: Choosing Hues for Your Marketing Collateral

February 12, 2014 Jeff Bradford

color infographicColor choices for marketing collateral are often the most subjective decisions clients make. We have learned to simply ask what people like and go with it, because this decision is often not subject to a reasoned approach.

I’m the same way. I have an unnatural attraction to yellow – all shades of it, but particularly ochre, which I associate with Robert Motherwell and Mark Rothko, two of my favorite artists, as well as with hundred-year-old plaster walls in Italy. And, of course, I am especially partial to PMS 123, the Bradford Group’s corporate color, which plays a prominent role in the interior design of our new offices in Fifth & Main that we will move into this weekend

But, according to the information below from the (unfortunately, no longer published) American Demographic magazine, yellow is America’s least favorite color. So, does that make me special or stupid in choosing it for our company color?

What if we led with our head instead of our heart? Might we create more effective brochures, booklets, posters, annual reports, flyers, mailer, websites and infographics?

Maybe. There is a science to color, which the late, great magazine, American Demographics, did a good job of putting forth a dozen years ago in its Feb. 2002 issue. Below is the skinny on color choices. It might come in handy for your next marketing collateral project.

Red

  • Attributes: exciting, daring, dynamic, sexy, intense, impulsive, active, aggressive, passionate
  • Associated with: blood, fire, competition, heat, emotion, optimism, violence, communism
  • Effect: arousal, stimulation, increases heart and respiratory rate
  • Preferred by: achievers, high-powered, active women, most economically stable, most secure

Orange

  • Attributes: in your face, vibrant, warm
  • Associated with: extroversion, adventure, celebration
  • Effect: stimulating but less than red, triggers alert
  • Preferred by: influentials, adolescents, second least favorite color overall

Yellow

  • Attributes: the warmest color, cheerful, happy
  • Associated with: sunshine, creativity, imagination, optimism, futuristic, spirituality, newness, low prices
  • Effect: warming, cheering
  • Preferred by: the first color kids reach for, but the least preferred color overall

Green

  • Attributes: fresh, clean, restful
  • Associated with: ecology, nature, balance, envy, fertility, spring
  • Effect: stabilizing, nurturing, healing, revitalizing
  • Preferred by: popular among influentials, opinion leaders, trendsetters, second most favorite color overall

Blue

  • Attributes: calm, tranquil, holy
  • Associated with: constancy, dependability, water, sky, holiness, protection, purity, peace, trust, loyalty, patience, hope, perseverance
  • Effect: calming, cleansing, cooling
  • Preferred by: No. 1 favorite color in America, No. 1 for casual clothes, No. 2 for business clothes

Purple

  • Attributes: exciting, mysterious, complex, intriguing
  • Associated with: passion, spirituality, art, creativity, wit, sensitivity, vanity, moodiness, royalty, superiority, homosexuality, richness
  • Effect: inspiring, thought-provoking, polarizing
  • Preferred by: No. 3 favorite color overall, popular among 18- 29-year-olds,, artists, more androgynous than other colors, loved or hated more than any other color

Brown

  • Attributes: comfortable, reliable, steady, simple
  • Associated with: earth, substance, stability, harmony, hearth, home, neutrality
  • Effect: comforting, soothing
  • Preferred by: practical people, down-to-earth people, Midwesterners, non-coastals

Black

  • Attributes: mysterious, elegant, sophisticated, worldly, sexy, powerful
  • Associated with: sophistication, simplicity, death and mourning, bad luck, night, power, evil
  • Effect: empowering
  • Preferred by: intellectuals, rebels, fashion industry, increasingly broad in appeal

White

  • Attributes: clean, fresh, pure, modern, neat
  • Associated with: purity, sterility, calm, brides
  • Effect: eyestrain, headaches, attention-getting
  • Preferred by: intellectuals, modern types, limited appeal overall
One comment on “The Color of Money: Choosing Hues for Your Marketing Collateral
  1. michael heard says:

    Like your posting. Don’t know if you are familiar with the Luscher Color Test, studied it in college. Here is a link to a quick personality quiz based on it. http://colorquiz.com/about.php

    Wonder how it would work with clients? Some companies use it for hiring decisions and also some universities use it for admission decisions.

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