Color-Emotion in Ads: Beginner’s Guide

June 15, 2017
Ad Design

Color Emotion Advertising Guide

From messaging and font choice to graphics and layout, there are several layers to making an ad successful. Color plays an important role from a design perspective, but it’s also a handy tool in your kit to help you add emotion and personal connection to your advertising. In fact, several studies show that colors can have an impressive impact on our emotions and decision making.

In a perfect advertising world, all color-emotion comparisons would be straightforward and universal. Red would always convey excitement and blue would always feel calm. But the fact is that the relationship between our emotions and colors is nuanced. Cultural and personal experiences, as well as specific industry standards, can change how your customers perceive color in your ads.

That’s why we’ve created this beginner’s guide to help you start thinking about colors and how to best use them for your ads in the context of your industry, brand, and customer base.

Focus on Message

You’ll be pleased to learn that you already know most of what you need to know about choosing colors for ads because you know your industry, brand, and customer base. Understanding your customer and what message or feeling you’re trying to convey with each ad will help you add context and clarity to your color choices. Here are a few things to consider about your business as you think about your color.

What feeling do I want to create with this ad?

  • Do these colors connect with my customer demographic?
  • Do my color choices support my brand?
  • Do companies in my industry have any common color usage?

Knowing the answers to these questions, and coming back to them if you feel lost, will be a tremendous help as you create your ads.

Know Basic Color-Emotion Associations

When you start choosing colors, remember that you don’t have to worry about picking the “right” color palette. There is no perfect choice. The key is to know color basics then make choices that support the messaging in your ad and your brand.

Even though our individual and cultural experiences can skew our reactions to colors, general color associations are still incredibly useful and a great place to start as you think about color for your ads.

When choosing colors for an advertisement, think about the feelings you want to convey in the context of your brand. This chart shows general color-emotion as well as some simple suggestions for color use based on ad types. However, there are no hard and fast rules, so think outside the box and do what makes the most sense for your brand and ad.

Consider Shades and Tones

Now that you understand a bit of the psychology behind basic colors, it’s time to mix it up. The basics still apply, but you can add more nuance when you understand shades, tints, and tones.

Every color can be manipulated into hundreds of different shades, but you don’t need to learn every shade to pick the right colors for your advertisement. All you need to know is the different emotional subtleties you can invoke. This occurs when you use and combine neutral, cool, warm, bright, or dark colors.


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