Color Me Retail

Last week I wrote a blog detailing an apparent obsession with purple and teal in the world of professional American sports during the 1990’s. (That, or I’m a graphic design conspiracy theorist.) While the color schemes of our favorite sports teams are very important to us fans, they can and do change; most of the time they are what they are solely out of tradition.

Color can play a very important, if only subconscious role in your retail behaviors, though. You may not ever notice it, but people have spent a lot of time figuring out how different colors affect people and their actions when it comes to shopping, whether it’s online on in the store.

You’ve probably heard a few ‘color characteristics’ before without really considering them.

Green, for example is associated with wealth and luxury, as it is the color of our money. Partly because green is the easiest color for the eye to see, it is also used mainly to relax consumers. This is the same reason many hospitals use green in their interiors.

Blue is a color that implies trust, security and loyalty. Along with green, blue is extremely popular in the banking and financial industries.

Purple is also soothing but often times associated with royalty or status. Together with pink, they are romantic, ‘feminine’ colors, and are often used to market products (like makeup and other beauty products) to women and girls.

The ‘warm’ colors–yellow, orange and red–produce more energetic feelings than the calming ‘cool’ colors. You’ll often see them used to encourage speed and actions, rather than trust or security.

Yellow is an optimistic, attention grabbing color. Because it is so bright, it is harder on the eyes so it can prove overpowering if used too heavily which is why it is often used sparingly in buttons and calls to action online, and window or other displays in stores.

Orange is an aggressive but cheerful color. Like yellow, it is common to see orange used as a call-out, such as ‘subscribe’ or ‘sign up’ buttons.

Red is a very emotional color and can actually cause an increase in heart rate. It is for this reason that red is often used for sales, as it creates a sense of urgency. It is also extremely attention grabbing – there are many studies that suggest red cars are often targeted more by thieves and pulled over for speeding by law enforcement.

Black is an authoritative color that is commonly used to market high-end and luxury products. Even just the addition of black can achieve this goal, as darker ‘rich’ colors are used to symbolize opulence.

Obviously these are just some of the meanings of colors, and only based on our culture–color uses and meanings vary throughout the world. There are also many other elements that affect our decisions on a daily basis (like buzzwords… Epic!) but colors do play a large role.

The next time you’re shopping online or walking past a store, take notice of their branding, signage and decor. It can be interesting to consider how much time was spent defining which color scheme was best for the situation and the reasoning behind it.

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