Color Me Purple!
Color Me Purple!


Anyone working in marketing knows that every detail counts, no matter how tiny or insignificant they may seem at first glance.  Small factors of which a consumer may not even be aware can drastically impact their psychology, and ultimately their decision-making process. This applies to almost all industries.  One of the strongest examples of this is signs and graphics and their use of color.

The psychology of color in marketing, specifically in your trade show exhibit has become a popular topic in the industry.  In fact, companies have even gone as far as to attempt rebranding using certain colors in order to result in different emotional responses from consumers.  Businesses build their strategy based on these emotions depending on the different responses they may or may not desire for a specific product.  They can convey positive or negative messages, encourage sales, or even entice/calm a crowd. Reports show that 93% of customers and visitors focus on visual appearance and almost 85% claim color to be their primary reason for purchase.

Color Theory

Color plays a large part in the daily lives of every individual. It helps us know which food is acceptable to eat, what areas are safe to drive down, and even what buttons are OK to press!  In fact, it is important that signs themselves convey a universal message and are understood by those who do not even speak the language. Children who cannot read know that a red octagonal sign means STOP and that a skull and crossbones means poison.  They could even tell if you drive by their favorite amusement park even if it only appears in the periphery.  Connections to this type of signage have become part of our instinct, and there is a reason why.

Originally developed by Leone Battista Alberti and of Leonardo da Vinci, Color Theory is the idea that there is a logical structure to the organization of color and provides a context for the way in which color is used.  It also addresses such ideas as primary and secondary colors, warm vs. cool colors, tints, shades, and complimentary colors, in turn establishing a multi-level relationship between them all (as opposed to living in isolation from one another).  A good way of understanding this is to look at colors in nature and how they relate to one another when compared.

As it stands, the common belief for the emotional responses that certain colors dictate is:

  • Red – Creates a sense of urgency, stimulates the body, raises heart rate, associated with movement, excitement, and passion
  • Blue – Preferred by men, it’s associated with peace, water, tranquility, and reliability, a sense of security, and productivity
  • Green – Associated with health, tranquility, power, relaxation, harmony, balance, decisiveness, and nature
  • Purple – Commonly connected to royalty, wisdom, problem-solving, creativity, and respect
  • Yellow – Encourages optimism
  • Orange – Sense of caution and anxiety
  • Black – Associated with authority, power, stability, intelligence, and strength
  • Grey – Represents feelings of practicality, age, and solidarity but also potentially feelings of nothingness and depression
  • White – Associated with feelings of purity, cleanliness, safety, and neutrality

Having said that, emotional responses can be unpredictable.  While these are the most common responses research shows that elements including, but not limited to, personal preference, experiences, upbringing, culture, geographical location, and context can alter the emotional responses people may have to colors.

How To Use Colors

While the selection of the actual color is very important for marketing and signage purposes, the use and color scheme are another layer that can be just as crucial. Below are 3 examples of different ways that colors can be used in this context.

  1. Monochromatic Color Scheme – Using a single color but in varying shades. This can still be a very interesting style for a sign while keeping it looking clean. Greens and blues are common colors for this as the soothing emotions they provoke can draw people in.
  2. Complimentary Color Scheme – On the other side of the coin, this color scheme uses the high contrasting colors as a tool by selecting colors that are directly opposite from one another. It has been shown that putting a warm color with a cool color is pleasing to the eye.
  3. Multiple Color Scheme – This scheme uses many colors (generally three) equally spaced from one another around a color wheel. It increases the ease of providing harmony within a color scheme and is intended to have the same results with consumers.

Final Word

Something as simple as an individual’s feelings about a color can be the deciding factor between if they want to approach your exhibit, or if they want to keep walking to something a bit more familiar and/or appealing.  Not only should a company have the appropriate colors, but they should also provide a sense of unity across platforms. Regardless, color choice is something that should be in the forefront of any company’s mind throughout the development of their marketing and exhibit properties. Contact us to learn about all of the ways we can use color to take your exhibit to the next level.

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