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The Harte Hanks Blog

Colorful Emotions

6088690308_1439df8198_zBecause people shop emotionally, if you really want your advertising to connect with them, you need to appeal to their hearts, as well as their heads.

Creative advertising taps into emotions and helps your brand develop a connection with the buyer. And if people feel connected with you, they’re more likely to buy from you.

So what can we do to make sure our communications get people feeling as well as thinking?

Obviously there are numerous methods. But because most of them have been used by advertisers for many years, we have a lot of insight and knowledge about what works.

There are too many to include all of them here, but we’ll make a start with one of the key elements in any piece of communication – color.

Color: Conditioning and Culture

93% of people say color influences purchases. But how do we know which colors work best? Well, fortunately certain colors seem to evoke similar emotions in most people. It’s part of our conditioning. We see yellow and think of sunflowers and summer months; we see grey and think of dark wintery days.

Of course, culture affects how people react to color, too – that’s because certain colors come to be associated with certain values. In the west, white is the color of ‘purity’ and is associated with marriage. Whereas in India, red is the color of marriage. And in China, white is associated with funerals.

Cultural associations also change over time; for example, pink has come to be associated with women because it’s seen as a ‘feminine’ color. But did you know pink used to be for boys and blue for girls? It’s true – in the 19th century England, pink ribbons or decorations were often worn by boys, and while men wore red uniforms, boys wore pink. Blue was popular for girls because it’s the color the Virgin Mary is traditionally pictured in.

You probably find this very odd because pink has been internalized as the ‘natural’ color to express a certain type of femininity.

Because of this, advertisers often use pink to attract the female audience, but like most people, women are more complex, and can sometimes react against pink in advertising. In fact, when making certain purchase decisions, they may not want to be associated with a ‘girly’ femininity. Take cars: some women may like pink, fluffy cars, but research carried out by iSeeCars, and cited in Forbes, shows that women often want cars in colors that are not traditionally seen as ‘feminine’.

So, the point I’m making is that we must be careful not to leap on stereotypical color choices as they can backfire, provoking the wrong emotion and causing a disconnect.

The message is – be careful with color. It’s easy to let personal taste, pre-conceptions and stereotypes affect your judgement. But your agency creatives have been trained in using color and will be able to advise on how best to use it.

Photo credit: Vishwas Krishna

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