The Perceptual Appropriateness of Colors with Brand Selection

Research Article

Austin J Bus Adm Manage. 2017; 1(1): 1001.

The Perceptual Appropriateness of Colors with Brand Selection

Prasad S*

Department of Marketing, BijuPattnaik Institute of IT and Management Studies, India

*Corresponding author: Saraju Prasad, Associate Professor in Marketing, BijuPattnaik Institute of IT and Management Studies, Patia, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India

Received: April 11, 2017; Accepted: April 19, 2017; Published: April 26, 2017


People know how brands are attempting to position themselves by considering colors congruent with those positions. The research has investigated the ability of color to enhance a brand’s desired image and examines how color affects consumer perceptions through a series of studies. This article explores the role that color can play in building brand by marketer and the perception of the customers and also explores consumer sensory impact more on the different types of shapes, designs, sizes or colours and their association with the brand selections. Research second examines the effect of colours on perceiving same products of different brands. The results recognize the impact of color in forming consumer brand perceptions. This article reviews the literature relating to color psychology in the context of marketing, highlights inconsistencies and controversies surrounding the color psychology, and, examines the impact of colors on marketing. The research work is exploratory with both primary and secondary data and mostly young respondents (college students of age less than 25).

Executive Summary

Purpose: The purpose of the research is to know the young generation perception about the brands on the basis of colours especially done by the companies during product marketing.

Design/Methodology/Approach: This article reviews the literature relating to colour psychology in the context of marketing, highlights inconsistencies and controversies surrounding the color psychology, and, examines the impact of colors on marketing. A model of customer perception of colours about the different sector products and brands is developed theoretically and validated empirically through statistical techniques especially through regression analysis and ANOVA models, perception and attributes about the colours studied through Multi-Dimensional Scaling (MDS) and Factor Analysis (FA) respectively by using the primary data collected from a national (India) sample of 250 college students.

Research Limitations/Implications: It is a convenience sample of two smart cities of technical and non-technical students (Bhubaneswar and Cuttack smart cities of Odisha) which shares almost major characteristics of Indian students. The study with a sample from different parts of India and the representatives of diverse population can be recommended for further research.

Practical Implications: In order to develop sustainable relationships by marketers of different brands, they should leverage involvement with their customers by employing strategies such that most acceptable colours, multicolours, strong colour, weak colour perceived by the customer to retain the customer loyalty.

Originality/Value: The topic is original and the data collected mostly from the primary data sources and has passed through multi-dimensional scaling and factor analysis which has given idea regarding the importance of different colours in selection of different products and brands (Mid-priced car brands).

Keywords: MDS; Factor; Eigen; Value; Loads


Colour is a lifeline of brand as it gives different identity through the nature of the colour. There is a strong linkage between brands and colour because colour conveys the meaning and message without words. Our minds are programmed such a manner that it has different respond to different types of colour. Most recognizable brands in the world are giving more importance to color for instant recognition. Colors and shapes work in harmony with each other to communicate a great message to market. Understanding of shapes is equally essential to know the power of color in branding. Color is the visual component people remember most about a brand followed by shapes, symbols, numbers and finally words. As Noor [1] suggested “Color is the spice of life and it would be tasteless without it, as already increasing level of depression exists in the world.” As marketers mostly focused on product, price and quality but ignored color for quite a long time. This may be because of the limited extent of research on consumer about their color preferences. As suggested by Cooper [2] color has an undeniably profound effect in the business world. Innovative marketing and advertising organizations experiment color as a means for a strong brand image creation and product promotion. Companies are trying to use colours smartly and effectively to create easily identifiable, memorable, and globally positive images. Color is one of the primary factors in every companies action plans [1].

Color is a powerful marketing tool that significantly influences consumer purchases, so much so that it accounts for 85% of the reason why someone decides to purchase a product [3]. Humans associate colors with meanings therefore marketers must understand the psychology of color in order to use it effectively. These associations are studied extensively in this paper which explores the psychology of color influences purchasing behavior as it pertains to product design, company branding, and the consumer. As almost all products sold today have colorful facades therefore selecting the right colors to use has an enormous impact on product sales. While no single set of rules governs color choices, research has established general guidelines based on the principle of associative learning, the relationship between color and emotion.

Associative learning describes the three basic principles of color, hue, saturation, and value. Hue is the wavelength of a color and determines itslabel, such as orange or green. Saturation is the intensity of a color, or, how pigmented a color is. Value is how bright a color is. Taking consideration all these three factors determine how people perceive color forms associations.


Colours play a vital role in life for taking decision for different objects that expect by the consumer. Keeping in view of the above discussion the present study has made an attempt to study the key colour attributes which are responsible for the perceptual change of Indian customers towards brands. Also the study give elaboration to know the role of students in the decision making process, factors responsible for selecting any colours of product and the customers’ high perceived value towards colours mostly during the decision about the brand.


The research design is mostly based on the students’ decision on durable products on the basis of colours. Sampling procedure used for this research is mostly convenient one (colleges mostly in the twin city Bhubaneswar and Cuttack of Odisha). Primary data are collected from the respondents (college students) through questionnaire method from the sample size 250 during the period of 2016 and 202 are validated. The attitude of students towards different colours during the selection of various products especially cars are taken through sixteen statements which are generated through pilot survey. Likert scale is used on each sixteen statements to study the attitude of customer towards different colours products. The data validated empirically through statistical techniques especially through regression analysis and ANOVA models, perception and attributes about the colours studied through Multi-Dimensional Scaling (MDS) and Factor Analysis (FA) respectively by using the primary data and analyse the data through SPSS package.

Literature Review

Colours have meaning and, as such, they are a fundamental tool in corporate/marketing strategies and communications. These underlying meanings are often used for the purpose of product and brand differentiation [4] on the basis of consumer perceptions [5]. Shapes are also an essential feature of marketing strategies, but, to our knowledge, no research has been published to date on whether or not shapes have meanings of their own or when interacted with colours in wine label design. The research that is closest to ours in the empirical literature is that of Boudreaux and Palmer [6], who also focus on selected aspects of label design (i.e., imagery, layout and colour), but emphasize their effect on consumer purchase intent and perceptions of brand personality. There is a strong emotional connection between consumers and products affect the perceived links between price and quality as a determinant of purchase intent [7].

Label design can be used as a marketing device stems from ever growing competition in world markets, as well as changing age and gender patterns in wine consumption [8]. In this setting, the assessment of quality signals that go beyond the traditional label compositions becomes increasingly important. Previous research shows that wine packaging provides a quality cue that consumers use to assess alternative products with respect to their own values following a set of subjective rules [9-11]. The shape of the bottle, the colour of the glass, the types and drawing patterns on the label should attract attention and help potential purchasers to distinguish specific wines from several competitors [12].

Colour is an integral element of corporate and marketing communications. It induces moods and emotions, influences consumers’ perceptions and behaviour and helps companies position or differentiate from the competition [13]. Colour is only one element of a brand’s projection endowed with inherent meaning and provides a valuable retrieval cue [14]. Colours play an important role as a brand’s “trade dress” and can be an influential communicative device [15]. Colour influences human emotions or feelings, in the sense that some colours may make one happy, while some colours may make one depressive. Simultaneously, colour itself has some characteristics, which can be described by semantic words such as ‘‘warm–cool,’’ ‘‘light–dark,’’ ‘‘soft–hard’’ etc. The semantic words describing the characteristics of colours and human’s emotional responses on colours are generally termed as colour emotion [16-18]. Colour is a vital part of products, services, packages, logos, displays and collateral. It is a potent cue for product and brand differentiation and for creating and sustaining corporate identities [19,20] and consumer perceptions [5]. Colour signals a product’s attributes for merchandise, thereby influencing perceptions about price and quality [21]. Colour is the least expensive way of changing the product [22]. Colour distinctiveness within a category or ‘visual branding’ allows for visual brand differentiation. Colour also facilitates ‘emotional branding’ and companies could use colours associated with specific emotions in order to target the psychogenic heterogeneity of the market [23]. Colour is an important brand attributes that covey’s different symbolic meaning, which is employed in the creation and maintenance of brand images [20], as a tool for advertising persuasiveness [15] and influence purchase decision for products [24,25]. Such studies have looked beyond the aesthetic value of colour and investigated its functional value. This functional value originates from specific meanings that colours convey in different contexts and has implications for psychological functioning; their studies demonstrate that the mere white clustered together are associated with gentle, peaceful, and calming meanings; whereas, warm colors such as yellow, gold, orange, red, and purple clustered together and are associated with vibrant, hot, active, and sharp meanings [20]. Recent research on brand personality defines the construct as “the set of human characteristics associated with a brand” and documents a stable set of personality dimensions that are thought to underlie the construct [26].

Naz and Epps [27] suggested that green is primarily associated with nature and elicits positive feelings such as relaxation and calmness. Blue is associated with water, eliciting positive responses including comfort and peace. Red is associated with love and is considered to be a color of dominance. Black is associated with power, whereas yellow and orange are associated with happiness. Marketers establish brand recognition by using a specific formula of colors and shapes to form a brand mark [28]. Brand recognition has a large impact on consumer purchasing behavior. Aside from impulse shoppers, many shoppers seek out products of brands they recognize. Successful color manipulation enables shoppers to quickly and easily identify the brand they are looking for amongst a sea of similar products. The consumers react to colours and shapes used in wine labeling and there is widespread recognition that the front label is the first line of communication between a winemaker and consumers; therefore, considerable marketing and branding effort is placed on designing visually attractive, risk-reducing labels [29-32]. The literature is silent on how individuals respond to shape variations and compositions. There is nevertheless a rich body of research on reactions to colours, which can be innate/instinctive [33] or learned/ associative [34]. If they are instinctive, colour signals trigger affective reactions in the brain. But, if they are learned, preferences over colours are “accumulated” over time as shared affective meanings or as a result of past experiences and/or conscious associations in language, literature and myths [35].

Results and Interpretation

Demographic profile

The data collected mostly from the students of professional institutes and universities of age group 20-25yrs. The profile in exhibit-1 available in appendix reflects highest percentage of Hindu students of 92.57%, followed by 9% Muslim, 1.98% Christian finally almost 1% of others and 57.92% male and 42.08% female. Income level of Rs.5 Lac above are mostly 60% and family of two to three sibling comprises of 85%.


This exhibit-2 in appendix provides the R and R2 values. The R value represents the simple correlation and is 0.898 (the “R” Column), which indicates a high degree of correlation. The R2 value is 0.807 (the “R Square” column) indicates how much of the total variation in the dependent variable like selection of the products FMCG, FMCD, CD, Bike and Car on the basis of colour can be explained by the independent variable, statements for factor analysis of all sixteen statements. In this case, 80.7% can be explained, which is very large. The next table is the ANOVA table, which reports how well the regression equation fits the data (i.e., predicts the dependent variable).

The exhibit-3 in appendix shows the output of the ANOVA analysis and whether there is a statistically significant difference between our group means. We can see that the significance value is 0.00 (i.e., p = .000), which is below 0.05 and therefore it is a statistically significant difference in the mean length of time to complete the spreadsheet problem between the different courses taken.

From the exhibit-4 in appendix shows16 predictors out of which five are not significant and eleven are statistically significant as p<=0.5. Out of eleven statistically significant statements four statements coefficient are negative which would indicate that unique mirror colours (s13), unique body colour (s15) and body colour bumper (s16), interior meter display colour (s4) has negative impact on decision for any car models and seven statements coefficients are positive which would indicate that multi body colour (s1), unique indicator position and colour (s2), steel colour of door handle (s5), colour of wheel is metallic alloy (s7), contrast body colour (s9), innovative interior colour (s10), different backlight colour (s12) are the area where consumer gives highest attention to take decision for any models of cars.

Perception of dimensions of products

In order to know the perception of respondents about the colour, shape, design and size multi-dimensional scaling techniques used from the sample of ordinal data. The dispersion accounted for is 0.83 and Truckers Coefficient of congruence is 0.91 which is highly acceptable for the perceptual map. It is not possible to represent all the dimensions considered by the customers for giving different priorities to the colour, shape, design and size. The perceptual map designed by considering only two dimensions.

Turning more closely to the link between colour and packaging, Rocchi and Stefani [12] found that individuals respond to wine packaging around two fundamental dimensions. In the first dimension, consumers seem to be affected by the bottle’s shape, size and colour, while in the second dimension they consider the dress of the bottle on the basis of other packaging elements, such as labels and capsules. The authors show that colour is the most basic level of perception and is used by respondents both to stress differences of opinion and to express preferences. The shape and size of the bottle are also often cited by consumers as important features to be considered in comparisons between alternative products. The exhibit-5 in appendix shows the perceptual image which gives the pictorial representation of the colour, shape, design and size. Here respondents have given high favoritism to size and design with comparison to colour and shape.

Perception about colours

Perception of respondents about the different colour multidimensional scaling techniques used from the sample of ordinal data where the dispersion accounted for is 0.97 and Truckers Coefficient of congruence is 0.98 which is highly acceptable for the perceptual map. Colours can be associated with objects on different dimensions. Osgood, et al. [35] shows empirically that there is an association between colour and objects at least on the basis of an evaluative scale of preferences. On an activity scale, on the other hand, the ordering of colours generally follows the hue dimension: “hot” colours, such as red and yellow, lean towards activity, black and white are by and large neutral, and “cold” colours, such as green and blue, are closer to the passive end of the spectrum. Colours can also be ordered on potency scales: the more saturated the colour, the more potent the object being judged is perceived to be. It appears that the evaluative effect of colour interacts with the nature of an object, whereas the effects of colour on the perceived activity and potency of objects with which they are associated are systematic and consistent with the hue and saturation dimensions, respectively. Because of its powerful underlying interpretations, colour is an important marketing tool, including for the creation of brand images [20]. There appear to be universal patterns in reactions to colours, which makes it possible to construct international colour codes. The exhibit-6 in appendix shows the perceptual image which gives the pictorial representation of the different colours perceived by the respondents. Here respondents have given high favoritism to white, blue, purple, red and black with comparison to green and brown.

Perception about brands on colours

Colours are said to have emotional and psychological properties [36]. The meanings linked with different colours are vital to marketers as they communicate brand image to the consumers [13,37]. The intrinsic meaning of colour, if appropriately selected may bring, ‘inherent and immediate value to the brand’ [38], like a carefully chosen name. Logo colour is also very important due to its mnemonic quality in the areas of recognition and recall [39]. Colour may play a role in imparting information, creating lasting identity and suggesting imagery and symbolic value [39]. Colour is sometimes referred to as the ‘silent salesperson’ as it exerts persuasive power at a subliminal level. Therefore, it is necessary to address the need to examine how people perceive the colour, design and meaning of logos to examine how these interlink to and affect the identity of the organisation [39]. In this research the dispersion accounted for is 0.92 and Truckers Coefficient of congruence is 0.95 which is highly acceptable for the perceptual map. Clarke and Cotsall [40], show that some colors have stronger associations with products than others which are important when designing the package of a product. The exhibit-7 in appendix shows the perceptual image which gives the pictorial representation of the different brands of colours perceived by the respondents. Here respondents have given high favoritism to Hyundai, Toyota, Honda, Maruti with comparison to Chevrolet and Nissan.

Brand selection attributes

The study has been made to know the attitude of Indian customers towards different colurs of cars and the brands. In exhibit-8 in appendix shows the Cronbach’s alpha for the reliability test of all the variables is 0.929 which has high acceptability for the factor analysis. The total variance accounted for by all the five factors is 83.43% which is quite high and it establishes the validity of the study in exhibit-9 in appendix. Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin Measure of Sampling Adequacy is 0.878 and Bartlett’s Test of sphericity is significant shown in exhibit-10 available in appendix.

The exhibit-11in appendix depicts the variables under each of the four desired factors. The first factor ‘cues’ which consists the variables like door handle colour, steel grill in front, metallic wheel alloy and mirror colours which affects the decision of respondents during car selection. The second factor ‘aesthetic’ explains the role of dashboard colour, meter display colour, innovative interior colour and contrast interior colour has tremendous impact on consumers’ decision. The third factor ‘uniqueness’ explains the unique indicator position, unique number plate light colour and unique backlight colour changes the consumer perception. The fourth factor ‘physical appearance’ comprises of multi body colour, contrast body colour, head light colour, unique body colour and body colour bumper has given a great look in totality and has a greatest impact as per the customer priority followed by ‘aesthetic’, ‘cues’ and ‘uniqueness’ which is available in exhibit-12 available in appendix.

Concluding Observation

Labels are more complex and provide important extrinsic cues (i.e., attributes that are not part of the physical product) to be used by consumers to assess quality [12,29,31,41]. Labels are assessed with respect to their location on the bottle, their shape and size, and the motifs depicted on them. They are also assessed together with the size of the bottle and on the basis of their capacity to provide information to consumers and to evoke more abstract functions assigned to the consumption of wine. Through the factor analysis it can be observed that the major factor responsible for selecting any brand of cars are “physical appearance” followed by “aesthetic” followed by “cues” and finally by “uniqueness ”. Majority of the respondents are considering size and design with comparison to colour and shape and the colour which mostly preferred by the respondents are white, blue, purple, red and black and least to green and brown [8,42]. Moreover, Boudreaux and Palmer [6] show on the basis of survey data with wine drinkers that colour and imagery are strongly associated with purchase intent and brand personality. The more colourful the label, the stronger its effect was found to be on perceived quality and willingness to pay. Dark, rich colours are associated with high quality, whereas colourful labels tend to be perceived as indicative of less “serious”, more “frivolous” tasting [43].

When we considered the colours connectivity with the brands a great result came. Majority of customers have given high degree of likingness towards colours during the selection cars of different brands. They are strongly inclined towards the specific brand because of colours associated with them. Their selection is Hyundai, Toyota, Honda, Maruti whose variants are more with respect to colours with comparison to Chevrolet and Nissan. This research gives an idea about the youth inclination for cars is based on the number of variants having high perceived colours.

Limitations and Directions for Future Research

The sample which has taken is mostly young of age group 20- 25 years may not be the replica of the population of India. It is a convenience sample of young minds both students and executives of Bhubaneswar state capital of Odisha (Eastern State of India) and prediction is on the basis of this limited territory. The dimensions considered here for the factor analysis are limited to the pilot survey conducted in Bhubaneswar only. The research mostly highlighted the quantitative part of the survey not the qualitative one. A study with a bigger sample from different parts of India can be recommended for further research. Color is ubiquitous and is a source of information. People make up their minds with initial exposure with either people or products. Majority percentages of the assessment done by the customers for bigger products are based on colours alone. So, prudent use of colors can contribute not only to differentiating products from competitors but also the colours of products influencing moods and feelings-positively or negatively to attitude towards certain products of companies. Customers’ moods and feelings are unstable and that colors play roles in forming attitude and it is important that managers understand the importance of colors in marketing. The study is designed to contribute few areas of colour aspects and other areas can be studied with more dimensions.


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Citation: Prasad S. The Perceptual Appropriateness of Colors with Brand Selection. Austin J Bus Adm Manage. 2017; 1(1): 1001.

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