White paper looks at influence of color in advertising
March 21, 2022

White paper looks at influence of color in advertising

LONDON — Saddington Baynes (www.saddingtonbaynes.com) has released the results of a research-based white paper the creative studio put together that looks at the influence and effects of color in advertising. Inspired by the common knowledge that different colors evoke specific emotional responses, the white paper details how far people’s perception of the world is intrinsically tied to the colors it is painted in, and how brands can take advantage of this insight. 

Using the studio’s Engagement Insights visual optimization tool, Saddington Baynes was able to explore how color and tone impact the way consumers respond to advertising. Focusing on five key marketing metrics - progressive, distinctive, quality, emotional pull and sector value - they measured the non-conscious responses to images from 300 campaigns from 50 different brands, across 30,000 consumers in the United States and the United Kingdom. 

Through testing sector-specific attributes, such as gender and region, the white paper encourages brands to work with color in a new way to increase overall engagement of their campaign. The results were analyzed, using both the dominant color and the overall average color, identifying correlations between how light or dark an image was and its emotional resonance. 

The study shows the intuitive use of color is tool for marketers can take advantage of, as it helps drive emotional resonance and triggers associations. Knowing how to manipulate color gives brands an advantage and helps minimize the risk when making creative choices.


Overall, lighter tones drive more positive emotional responses (98 percent confidence). Context is linked to changes in emotional responses with sectors seeing different correlations. Beverage imagery, for example, is the only sector where darker content is perceived as less premium.

Lighter and brighter wins when trying to create a feminine feeling. The color of feminine, however, is perceived differently in women vs. men. Men associate lighter tones with being significantly more feminine than women do. 

High contrast between product and background evokes more positive emotions in consumers. For example, imagery with light backgrounds and light products did not perform well in the automotive sector. Brands can now understand what the optimal background/car color combination is.
“A scientific way to understand imagery and the emotional responses in relation to it is the dream, not only from a researcher's perspective, but also for a creative,” says Callum Gould, head of insights at Saddington Baynes. “Understanding the impact tonality has and effectively relating colors to specific emotions gives our creative teams a massive advantage. It means they can have greater confidence in the decisions they make. This white paper offers some amazing insights in an area which is not well understood and we are thrilled to be sharing it with the world!”

You can view the white paper HERE.