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The Use of Colors in Advertising


All good marketers know that there are subtle psychological cues that can help seal the deal. Aside from the testimony of trustworthy sources, visual cues tend to be the most persuasive tools available to the advertiser in selling his product. Attractive women. Beautiful scenery. Speed. Action. Mouthwatering images of food.

Credit card companies know this well. If there’s any industry that manages to motivate action through subtle psychological cues, it’s the credit card industry. Consider the fact that they attempt and succeed at exploiting the human instinct towards tribalism. “Become a member of an elite club and raise your social status in the process.”

One of the most common tactics used by credit card companies is the use of color branding. Take for example the new Visa Black card that we discussed earlier in the year. In this case, black creates mystique and allure: the Johnny Cash effect.

Then there is the Blue from American Express credit card. American Express has had gold cards, platinum cards, black (the centurion), the clear card, etc. Now they have blue. What cues does this send? It says things like “wide open” “freedom” “fresh air” “new beginnings” – not to mention the fact that most marketers agree that blue is the most universal calming and pleasant color. With this card, AMEX is trying to say “come on in, credit cards can be nice, pleasant things that are good for your health.”

The fact of the matter is that human beings are influenced by subtle, sub-conscious cues. The biggest industries in the world know this well. And they exploit it. Such simplistic concepts have such big effects. So the next time you develop your marketing campaign, pay attention to the colors.