In marketing, as in life, first impressions matter. Research shows it only takes about 90 seconds for a customer to form an opinion about a product—and a surprising percentage of his or her assessment (62-90%) is based on colors association with the product.
When it comes to healthcare branding and marketing, color psychology is an important part of defining and communicating your brand identity. Pink is often used to represent breast cancer awareness, while red signifies immediate danger or emergency response. Blue represents loyalty and trustworthiness, making it a popular color for many corporate logos in the healthcare space (think Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Healthcare and Aetna). But should your healthcare organization choose blue as your primary color just because it is “safe” and universally accepted? Not if you want to differentiate yourself and stand out from the crowd.
So, what color(s) should you choose? Unfortunately, there is no universal textbook answer when it comes to choosing the right color palette for your health organization. Different colors evoke unique emotions in everyone, but a deep dive into factors like which customer segments you want to attract and what you want to convey to them can help you land on the right colors for your corporate identity. Just as physicians ask questions of patients when trying to diagnose a condition, healthcare marketers and designers must ask the right questions to determine the appropriate color palette:
- Who is your target audience?
Healthcare marketers must consider the audience they are targeting—men or women, upper class or middle class, traditionalists or millennials. Different colors speak to different groups. Choose a color that resonates favorably with the people you want to reach, and make sure your color palette is culturally friendly—meaning, if you are promoting your services or products to different ethnic groups, it’s important to understand what colors mean in their cultures, which can vary. As a health organization, you don’t want to unintentionally offend or scare away potential customers by using a color that signifies death or mourning, for example.
- What colors are your competitors using?
What do your competitors look like, and how can you stand out from the crowd? Avoid confusion with other brands by staying away from your competitors’ colors. This will make it easier for your audience to identify your brand.
- Are you using colors that work well across all platforms?
Consistency improves audience recall of your brand. The trick, of course, is to maintain a uniform look and feel across all messaging platforms. What works well on a billboard might not replicate well in newsprint, for example. Choose a color that can be adapted for multiple mediums. Your audience will be better able to recognize your presence and more inclined to engage with your company.
- Are you portraying the right personality with the colors you have chosen?
Purple may be seen as an acceptable color in healthcare, but does its association with royalty and sophistication best lend itself to a health system located in an area that’s heavily populated with low-income families? Consider the core purpose of your health organization and business model, and use colors that align with those qualities.
When it comes to selecting colors for your corporate identity, a strong understanding of color theory should be at play. Remember, color has meaning, and it should add to your message—not deflect or detract from it.