Colour Your World

rainbow coloured spiral colour in advertising production

Colour Your World

Decoding the Emotional Power of Colour in Video Advertising

A few months ago VMP did a green-screen shoot for a bubbly, energetic client. The first thing he noticed when given the final product was the background we’d chosen, a late sky blue; which happened to be the exact colour that his company’s stylist had chosen specifically for him.  This conversation got us thinking about the importance of colour in video advertising and how it can affect the way we feel about an advertisement. So here’s a quick breakdown of colours and the buttons they push.


Red is one of the most versatile and vigorous colours in the advertising spectrum. It’s a colour that bursts and catches your eyes in an advert; it creates energy and symbolises power, vitality, danger, excitement, blood, violence and eroticism. The colour red is the first colour babies see and has the ability to physically affect humans unconsciously by increasing their heart rate and breathing. It is a favourite in power products such as the motor industry, (because we all know red goes faster) cosmetics and perfume (what’s more alluring than a rich red lipstick?) and an appetite stimulant (McDonald’s golden arches on a rich red background… hungry now?). This powerful colour represents strong emotion (love and hate), is a favourite amongst children and generally well received by adults as well. Overall, it’s a pretty useful colour.


Sticking with the warmer half of the colour spectrum is reds neutral cousin orange. Again it creates enthusiastic energy, proven to increase oxygen supply to the brain, but orange doesn’t carry reds negative emotions. Rather, it is a colour of courage and the symbol of fall and harvest. Orange is a great colour for power shot products like energy drinks, candy and so on. The negative side of orange is that it cannot be used for high priced or luxury items as it created an impression of cheapness. It is an appetite stimulant, but if you are going to use orange, stick to the bargains and the quick fixes.


Much like red, yellow has the ability to be a two-faced colour. On the positive side, it is a happy colour, the colour of sunshine that radiates energy, optimism and spontaneity. It can symbolise regeneration when used in beauty products, cheerfulness and play in children products and when partnered with buttery food creates a scrumptious disposition. The negative is that as attractive as yellow can be, it can also be overbearing and tiring to the eye. Some people find the colour distasteful as it can share oranges trait of looking cheap. Dull yellow can represent sickness jealousy and decay. Like the other warm colours yellow is a good advertising tool and depending on your angle, yellow can enhance or degrade a product.


Hands down, pink is the number one feminine colour in the world; associated with sweetness, calm and anything girl-related.  Pink is a prime colour for sweets, women and young girl products. Hotter pinks demand attention and inspire flair while softer pastel pinks are associated with babies products like lotions and powders or a silky smoothness for products like shampoo and conditioner. At times it can become too obnoxiously feminine, but there’s no denying that pink is a colour that is very strongly received in its own stereotype.


Moving onto a cooler palate, green represents nature, youth, harmony, fortune and vigour. Green is toned-down energy of the warmer palates. It is the easiest colour for the eye to see and is one of the only colours known to not cause depression in any person. In today’s world green has a very strong association with the environment and ‘green’ movements. As a result, green portrays nature, good health and the ‘right thing’ – just think of getting a green tick rather than a red cross on a high school assignment, a green traffic light or the Greenies fighting to save the environment. Lighter shades symbolise freshness and vitality, think women’s face creams and ice tea; while darker shades generally are associated with money and can be used in investment and planning schemes. On the downside, green can imply inexperience (a greenhorn) and feelings of envy and jealousy. Again, like yellow, the wrong colour can suggest sickness.


Blue is a strong, formal colour; promoting serenity and clarity, depth and stability, intellect and precision. Known to help improve concentration, blue can be subtly used to give credibility to a product. While being labelled a ‘masculine’ colour, its deeper shades are associated with opulence. Think ads with dark blue luxury cars, navy blue suits and elegant blue dresses. The cooler shades of blue suggest a refreshing and pure quality, which is why products like window cleaners and spring water are shot with a bluish tinge. One of the only products blue will not add value to is food as it suppresses the appetite.


Purple is the feminine luxury colour, higher in elegance than blue, purple ads a sense of quality. Symbolizing royalty, nobility, wealth and extravagance, it is also the symbol of wisdom and magic. Being the combination of red and blue (the hot and cold colours) purple is thought to be the perfect colour. Lighter colours like lavender inspire calmness and romance, bright purple playfulness and dark royalty. Negatives of purple include its association with arrogance and mourning. Print media is where purple really shines and it is a choice colour for website developers as it is not as harsh as red and is attractive to a larger audience. When used with cheaper products, purple can add a sense of quality. Its most popular audience is teenage girls who tend to prefer purple over all other colours.


Brown is associated with Earth, home, simplicity, comfort and material security. Products associated with brown include natural and organic produce and many outdoor related products. Darker shades suggest quality and sturdiness or elegance and sophistication, although its lack of brightness sees it sitting low on the popularity scale. As a less competitive colour, brown is best for products that do not need to stand out from the crowd.


Grey is associated with the secure and solid and connotes maturity, dignity and wisdom. Sitting between black and white, grey is the perfect neutral, which is why it is such a popular background colour amongst designers. Grey can also be seen as the colour of compromise and boredom and is definitely not for energetic products.  Like brown, its introverted energy doesn’t make a great eye-catching tool; although this can be used effectively when creating a darker or sombre mood for your project.


White is the colour of purity and cleanliness; often used in cleaning advertisements such as sparkling white tiles or in work rooms to create modern, simplistic atmospheres.  Although advertisers must be careful not to let white make adverts seem clinical. White remains a favourite as a contrast or where clear-cuts lines play a role.


Keeping with the trend of darker colours signifying luxury, black creates a sense of exclusivity. Its associations include power, mystery, fear and grief. As one of the more traditional colours in advertising, black can give a product elegance and class. Shiny black is a mark of excellence (think premium black credit cards) while matte is more formal with a corporate touch. Black has always been the hallmark of advertising and is, and probably always will be, a favourite in advertising.


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“Color in Advertising : Colors.”ThinkQuest : Library. The Colours Team, n.d. Web. 29 Aug. 2013.

“Effective Advertising.” ThinkQuest : Library. N.p., 8 Oct. 2012. Web. 29 Aug. 2013.


Thu, 29/08/2013 – 4:54pm