Use Color to Positively Influence Your Business

color psychology

Color is an integral part of life, we can’t avoid color in life as it is everywhere. The more we embrace it and consciously become color savvy, aware of its affects and transformational abilities, the more we can readily accept how it can positively influence our decisions.

Take red for example.

To demonstrate the dramatic effect of red: it takes 0.02 seconds to register red, yet 0.25 seconds to register 3 words of this text.

Red is the Olympic winner of the spectrum, the smash hit of the color realm—the in-your-face, bring-it-on, erotic, wonderful, and exasperating red.

With its tremendous emotional impact, red affects us on every level of our being—a boost for the metabolism, promotes adrenalin release, and produces feelings of warmth in the body. Red stands out from the crowd!

A number of iconic brands use red for their branding, one of the major players being Coca-Cola, the most well known and valuable brand in the world. Coca-Cola sells more than one and a half billion servings in a day, and rising, in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Yet red is not the all-singing, all-dancing color to use exclusively across the board, as red has its limitations. Red used unwisely is the most ghastly and unforgiving.

Each color of the spectrum has its place of usage, and when the correct color, appropriate for the environment, product, branding, and design is chosen correctly by a color professional who knows their onions, color then reigns supreme and is fit for purpose.

Success depends upon the abilities and expertise of the person or team allocated the task of choosing the color palette, as color is only as good as the person choosing it.

Color is an area that demands perfection. One shade out will leave the whole project lacking. The way color is used has evolved internationally. The country, culture, and religion all have a part to play.

Shades of color must be tweaked and changed, dependant upon the audience, product, design brand and environment. A one-color-suits-all approach cannot work with international business. The associations we make with every color are dependent upon where we have been raised in the world. Color provides the most effective non-verbal communication, the most powerful and, in my opinion, underused business tool available.

Color associations can be historical, national, cultural, personal and linguistic, but one thing we can’t deny is that color is also visual.

Color has impact and, for that reason, the way we use it can create either the right blend for the intended use or not. Color associations for each culture are interesting to note and important for business. We may be familiar with our own culture symbolism for a given color and know how people will interpret it here, but if that color held a different meaning in another country or culture, there is a high risk of giving offence.

To know the deeper meaning of color is an effective way to show that you have learnt something about their heritage. It is a way to show courtesy and respect. It is a means to bridge the difference between people and cultures, to show willingness and to meet them halfway.

color in different cultures

With more and more business conducted beyond national and continental boundaries, this understanding can make the difference between you and a competitor who doesn’t appreciate the importance of cultural diversity.

An example – here is what red means in different cultures:

  • Western – energy, passion, warning, danger, excitement
  • Eastern – good fortune, fire, prosperity, worn by brides
  • China – ceremonial, vitality, happiness, good fortune
  • India – power, opulence, fear, fire, fertility
  • Thailand – fire, Sunday, day of rest, procreation
  • Japan – danger, frustration, life, blood, anger, death
  • Cherokee – honour, triumph, success, virility
  • South Africa – mourning, life, blood, danger
  • Russia – communism, marriage, ceremonies, beauty, Bolsheviks
  • Nigeria – worn by Chiefs, ceremonial color of the highest order
  • Aborigines – the land and earth color from the red dust, ceremonial color
  • Christian – love, passion, sacrifice, blood, death, birth
  • Hebrew – sacrifice, sin, death, blood

And here we were thinking colors were just colors..!

Color can attract and magnetise a target audience or alienate them, it is that simple.

Color can attract and magnetise a target audience or alienate them. Click To Tweet

With the best marketing strategy and advertising in the world, if the color choice is not fit for purpose, spot on and exact, then expect sales not to reach nor sustain targets, or worse, offend.

When immersed in international trading it is vital to be color savvy to survive. Color can be incredibly powerful and transformational in business.


june mcleodJune McLeod is a color consultant, color trends forecaster, motivational trainer, and author. Excerpts from her latest book Colour Psychology Today are now available on her website  




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