Back in the day, an executive at Campbell’s Soup reportedly chose the red and white iconic can because he liked the colors of Cornell’s football uniform. Today we know that color choices can’t be made so casually.
For example, researchers report that colors influence our emotions in profound ways. Evidence suggests that some colors (particularly red) create feelings of arousal and stimulate appetite, and others (such as blue) create more relaxing feelings (American Express launched its Blue card after its research found that people describe the color as “providing a sense of limitlessness and peace.”). Advertisements of products presented against a backdrop of blue are better liked than when shown against a red background, and cross-cultural research indicates a consistent preference for blue whether people live in Canada or Hong Kong.
People who complete tasks when the words or images appear on red backgrounds perform better when they have to remember details, while they excel at tasks that require an imaginative response when these are displayed on blue backgrounds. Olympic athletes who wear red uniforms are more likely to defeat competitors in blue uniforms, and men rate women who wear red as more attractive than those who wear blue. In one study, interior designers created bars decorated primarily in red, yellow or blue and people were invited to choose one to hang out in. More people chose the yellow and red rooms, and these guests were more social and active – and ate more. But, partygoers in the blue room stayed longer. For marketers, color choices go well beyond aesthetics or nostalgia for college uniforms.