So What Color Do You Want

Ever notice that your dentist’s waiting room is likely to be blue? That’s because this small business owner knows the secret meaning behind colors.

Color choice is more than personal preference; it’s a science. In fact, there’s even a name for it in scientific study—color psychology. Some marketers incorporate this theory into their overall branding efforts.

For example, where would Target be without their attention-getting, red bull’s eye or British Petroleum (BP) without their environmentally-conscious, green sunburst?

One study indicates that customers take only 90 seconds to form an initial impression of a product, and 62-90 percent of that judgment is based on color.1

So it’s important for small business owners to carefully consider which colors they use in their store, their website and in their promotional materials. It’s a part of your brand.

Here’s a sample of what the psychology of color can mean for businesses: 2

  • Blue – soothing and restful (which is important when your dentist gets out the drill). It can also be associated with trust and security. Might use it with professional-service businesses like financial planners
  • Orange – low cost.  Use with businesses who differentiate based on price, like a discount appliance store
  • Yellow – cheery and joyful. That’s something you want from your local coffee house. Might also use it with a party supply business
  • Purple – dignity and stateliness. Could be a good match for a local home health care business, where clients want to retain their independence by receiving care in the comfort of their home

It’s important for small businesses to consider a number of factors when developing their brand statement. But being aware that how your customers perceive color is one factor you may want to consider.

1 “Color Psychology.”  Wikipedia, Wikipedia Foundation, July 8, 2013.

2 T. Madden, K. Hewlett and M. Roth. “Managing Images in Different Cultures: A Cross-National Study of Color Meanings and Preferences,” Journal of International Marketing, Winter 2000, p.7.

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