Did you know that you are often secretly coerced into your buying decisions? We’re about to expose the techniques advertisers use on you each day.

Understanding psychology, as used in advertising, will take the control away from advertisers and put it back in your hands. Keep reading to find out how.

Psychological Persuasion in Advertising

There are two varieties of persuasion methods used in advertising. One type appeals to logic and the other to our emotions.

Research and reading reviews evoke logical persuasion. Colors, sex appeal, music, and stories persuade through our emotions. Emotional persuasion bypasses logic, and we make decisions based on emotion.

Here are some of the significant ways that advertisers use persuasion on you.


People feel obligated to give back to those that give them something. Advertisers use this method by giving away freebies. They’re banking on you buying something from them in return.

Imagine this, you’re shopping at your local grocery store, and a nice person is handing out samples. Have you ever felt like you should buy one of the products that are being sampled out?

Another example of this in action is a waitress bringing you a mint with your bill. Subconsciously, you will feel obligated in return to tip her. This simple act can increase tips by 3% to 14%.


If a person believes that they will lose out on something they value, they are more likely to buy it. The scarcity tactic used in limited-time offers, short-term sales, and one-of-a-kind items.


Perceived experts are more likely to influence.

Displaying a diploma on the wall, posting certifications, or wearing a uniform are some examples of this method at work. Stating expertise in introductions is a practical use of authority influence in marketing.


People like to stay consistent in life, doing things that they have previously done. Many sales techniques exploit this principle. By asking potential customers to do one small thing, they are more likely to say yes to a larger request next time.

Jewelry salespeople use this by asking a shopper to try on a ring. A door to door salesperson might ask the homeowner to hold something for them as the first step to a more significant request. Asking for what seems like a simple favor is psychologically the door opener to bigger requests.


We’re more likely to buy from people we like. We like people who compliment us, are similar to us, and those who are cooperative.

Asking personal questions to get to know a customer, or finding a common interest, is a great way to get people to like you. Giving a genuine compliment is another way. In marketing, this should take place before making negotiations or requests to buy.

Blogging is one way that potential customers can discover if they have common interests or can relate to you.

Consensus or Social Proof

Understanding psychology in advertising includes learning the consensus principle. On the internet, we call it social proof. It suggests that most people will follow what the majority of others do.

Consider this scenario. You go to the store to buy something that you’re vaguely familiar with. Once you get there, you have to choose between several versions of the product.

One version is almost gone, and the rest fully stocked. Would you pick the version that most people have chosen, thinking that it must be better than the others?

Online, this tactic can be applied by including relevant studies that your target market can relate to. These suggest that they should do the same. Reviews and testimonials are two more forms of social proof in advertising.

Repeated Exposure

For the public to immediately recognize a brands logo or image they must be exposed to it over and over. Thus, the need for advertising. Repeated exposure is often referred to as branding.

Studies show that we prefer recognizable brands. In fact, this was proven with MRI scans and logos. Strong recognition activates the areas of our brains associated with positive emotions.

Once you feel that you “know” a brand, you’re more likely to buy from them, even if their products are more expensive. You put more trust in brands you know as well.

Classic Conditioning

Our article on understanding psychology as it relates to advertising wouldn’t be complete without talking about conditioning. This marketing principle is widely used on and offline.

When you relate one thing to another automatically, you’re experiencing the conditioning effect. Car companies often use this technique in their advertising.

For example, they present an ad that shows a car driven by a young, successful man. Viewers come to associate that model of car with youth and success.

The same thing happens when a celebrity endorses a product. The public associates that product with celebrity status.

Understanding Psychology in Color

Color is another persuasion method. Businesses use color to influence appetite, change moods, and alter public perception.

Up to 90% of impulsive buying decisions are based on color. Who knew that color could have such a significant influence on purchases?

Men and women are persuaded by colors differently, although both prefer blue. Products that are gender specific aim for gender preferred colors.

Understanding psychology of color is easy. Here are some examples. We’ll show their subconscious meanings and the companies that use them in their logos.


Red increases blood pressure, heart rate, and appetite. It grabs attention and leads to quick buying decisions. Red makes you think of stopping and discount sales.

Some companies that take advantage of red in their logos are Coke, Netflix, and YouTube.


Pink stands for sweetness, fun, and youth. It is calming and inspires feelings of comfort. Lighter shades of pink represent romance and delicacy. It’s often associated with candy and pastries.

Mattel and T-Mobile use shades of pink in their logos.


This color is energetic and fun, although long periods of exposure to it can cause aggression.

Nickelodeon and Home Depot’s logos are orange.


Yellow is the first color processed by the human eye and draws attention. It’s no wonder that McDonalds and Denny’s use it in their logos.


The color green is relaxing. It represents health, nature, freshness, and money. Whole Foods and Starbucks use it in their branding.


Blue is a favorite among adults. It’s also liked by both men and women the same. It evokes a sense of trust and security.

Two companies successfully incorporating blue into their branding are Facebook and Wal-Mart.


Purple has always been a sign of royalty. Wisdom, luxury, creativity, and imagination are other characteristics associated with it.

Taco Bell and the Syfy Network use purple in their logos.


Black is bold and official. It signifies luxury, sophistication, and high status. It goes well with any other color.

Uber and Nike are well-known companies that have black logos.

Now What?

For consumers, knowing the secret ways that advertisers use psychology on you will help you make better buying decisions.

Understanding psychology principles for marketing could help you sell your products or services better too. If you need help with that, contact us for a consultation.