Thursday, 17 November 2016

Colour Psychology and Anatomy of an Advert

I’m quite good at knuckling down and churning out words, but when it comes to marketing, the other side of writing (which involves 1% of the time but is as important as the 99% spent writing), I’m a bit less fluent.

This time, I decided to try and make a bit of use of the old psychology. A few years ago now but I do have a degree in it, and have vague memories of colour psychology (McDonalds has red and yellow in its advertising because the colours influence you to feel hungry and want to impulse buy). It’s worth noting that colours can and do mean different things in different cultures. Red is not always bad. Green is not always good.

In addition to considering colour, there’s the contrast versus complementary aspect to consider. Colours close to one another on the spectrum (yellow and red, for example) often go smoothly together. However, a stark contrast (black and white’s the most obvious) can create a stronger visual impression. The most important thing is to avoid clashing colours. Purple and green are not your friends. And don’t festoon the screen with every colour of the rainbow. Clarity is useful because the reader’s eye gets drawn the way you want it to, and the reader won’t get annoyed with having a face full of rainbow vomit.

For impulse buying, which books generally are, it’s better to use warmer colours. There is a notable exception, which is blue. I have no idea why the coldest of cold colours might encourage impulse buying, but there we are. If you’re selling a car, I’m not sure why you’re reading this for advice, but you want to take a more functional approach (green or blue, and black might work).

It’s also important to avoid the bullshit factor. I saw an ad a couple of years ago for one of those card games that are based on a TV series. “It is a life-altering experience!” the narrator enthused. Now, for a five year old, maybe it would be. And that’s the target demographic. Someone with the power to nag their parents to buy something. But if it were aimed at me, my response would be concise and Anglo-Saxon, and would not involve me spending money.

Use language that fits your book. Try and use a font that either fits well or at least doesn’t clash (using military style fonts for a romance or sci-fi lettering for an alternative history of the Roman Empire would just look wrong).

Anyway, I’ve wibbled about this for quite some time. But the point of an ad is to be seen, the information digested easily and (if it’s a low cost impulse buy) attract someone into buying it in short order. Below I’ve got the advert for Kingdom Asunder, currently up for pre-order on Amazon, with annotations explaining why I included each element.

I also did a smaller banner with some of the same elements (because slapping a whacking great advert in the middle of every blog would be obnoxious). I went for red rather than blue because I felt it stands out more (I considered red for the large banner but blue seemed a better fit for it. The two ads take a different time to read, and whilst the red is more arresting the blue feels a little easier on the eyes).

So there you are, a basic guide to making a banner ad. Remember, focus on colours, have no bullshit, include a call to buy and, most important of all, click and pre-order Kingdom Asunder.


PS If you’re a chap going on a date, try a red shirt. As well as ruining your life expectancy in Star Trek, red shirts make men more attractive to women (to a statistically significant degree). Unfortunately, ladies, the colours you wear make no difference to how attractive gentlemen find you.

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