Emotional Reaction To Colour


As we alluded to in our previous blogpost, there’s no denying that the application of colour in advertising is hugely instrumental in connecting with and influencing the consumer through emotional reaction. In fact a study called the ‘’Impact of Color on Marketing’’ found that up to 90% of buyer’s decision-making was solely linked to colour.  

Unsurprisingly, given its symmetry with respect to natural phenomena, the relationship between colour and emotion has been universally acknowledged for a very long time.

Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, considered by many to be the founder of abstract art, was one of the early proponents of colour theory. His belief was that the following colours portrayed the following traits.

  • Blue – deep, peaceful, supernatural
  • Green – peace, stillness, nature
  • White – harmony, silence, cleanliness
  • Black – grief, dark, unknown
  • Red – glowing, confidence, alive
  • Yellow – warm, exciting, happy
  • Orange – radiant, healthy, serious

At the crux of Kandinsky’s thesis was the notion of colour as a non-verbal language, capable of communicating how we’re feeling in ways that words alone cannot.

In social media terms, when consumers share quotes or images with a certain colour scheme this can reveal their emotional reaction.

A person may choose to wear a red dress to indicate that they’re passionate or ready to act and in the same vein a consumer may select a red backdrop for their image to express similar sentiments, either on a conscious or subconscious level.

Beautifeye recently conducted a study for a customer and performed a qualitative analysis of motivational quotes on Instagram in various colour schemes. Here is what we found:

  • Red is often used for quotes about love and passion, positive/motivational quotes
  • Black is often used for quotes that convey negativity, fear, and seriousness
  • Pink is often used for quotes about friendship and love, quotes about stereotypically feminine things like make-up and shopping, and quotes that convey an upbeat, happy mood
  • Yellow is often used for quotes about rejection and loneliness
Colours of motivational quotes that we found in our study

Equally though, it’s worth noting that the significance that a colour holds can be highly subjective, shifting according to everyone’s personal experiences. The world goes on for aeons and aeons and it would take that amount of time to begin to comprehend the ramifications that each colour strand has on our brains.

As such, conclusions cannot be drawn via colour analysis alone - during our study we observed that people will post quotes without strong emotional content in all colour schemes. Likewise, just as schools tend to paint their walls with bright schemes to appeal to children, users will employ tones such as pink and yellow to attract attention. On an even simpler level they will just select their favourite colour.

In spite of this, by stopping to consider what each colour represents and how it pertains to your target audience, you can make smarter more informed marketing decisions. It may not be the perfect barometer, but it can convey the prevailing mood across a large spectrum of customers, especially when complemented by textual sentiment analysis.

Colour theorist and American author Faber Birren performed many studies on the differing effects of colour as humans aged, and in his book ‘’Color Psychology and Color Therapy’’, he discovered that yellow was popular with children but amongst adults its popularity waned. Birren states that “with maturity comes a greater liking for hues of shorter wave length (blue, green, purple) than for hues of longer wave length (red, orange, and yellow)”.

Furthermore it’s wise to take stock of the fact that colours mean different things in different places. Red in the west represents danger, love, passion. In India it is a colour of purity, in China it is a colour of good luck and in South Africa it’s a colour of mourning. Being aware of these cultural variables is important in order to relate to customers in foreign markets.

In China red culturally symbolises good luck and good fortune

In China red culturally symbolises good luck and good fortune

At Beautifeye we can identify the visual trends reflected in the images, particularly quotes, that those engaged with your brand are sharing. This acts as a window into the emotional states of your customer base. For example, are they largely posting uplifting and inspirational quotes, or do they regularly express sentiments of thoughtfulness or even negativity?

Using our proprietary Computer Vision and Machine Learning technology, Beautifeye can analyse how these differences translate to social media. In turn we can pinpoint the patterns in your customers’ posts and help you to tailor your marketing strategy so that it emotionally engages with your customers.

co-written by James Vickery.