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In places, people, products and paintings.
In daylight and moonlight and white light and yellow light.
Everything we look at, feel, touch, create, design, are moved, appalled and perplexed by has at its essence some fragment of this illusion called color.
Though inherently technical and explicitly conscious, color has the power to go beyond the surface of the retina to alter moods and inspire decisions.
Underpinning the soft yellows and tepid blues that make up our surroundings is an unspoken power. A power that, when used in marketing and website design, can tell a story about your brand without needing to use words at all.
When a user visits your website, they’re immediately bombarded with visual stimuli. Photos and videos and headlines and ads that are all processed consciously by our working memory, a place where opinions are made openly and decisions delicately.
However, with color theory, you target the subconscious part of people’s minds to foster more subliminal guiding forces.
Hormones are released throughout the body, triggering emotions and, in turn, decisions. If executed right, you can smoothly use this phenomenon to increase your conversions.
One thing to consider when cultivating your brand’s digital image: how do I want people to feel? What personality should my page possess? Will it be fun, airy, light and free? Will it be strong, rugged, powerful and coarse? Colors are like the fingerprints of different human emotions, so handpick these emotions carefully.
Consider your audience, particularly their gender. If women, then you should focus on softer colors. Muted colors, no matter the scheme, tend to speak to women more than stronger ones. Women also tend to dislike greys and browns, and prefer purples and greens.
Meanwhile, men prefer brighter, more prominent colors that reach out of the screen. They also tend to hold an aversion to browns, oranges and purples. If you want a solid, gender-neutral color, your safest bet is blue.
Colors’ organizational components are also important. When you’re making a Call to Action (CTA), make sure that the words don’t blend in with the background button. For example, light blue text set on a dark blue background might dissuade a customer from clicking. However, a color combination with more contrast – say dark blue and white – is more likely to draw the eye and then the mouse. Make sure to also focus on symmetry and accents in all your navigation tools, so that they’re clear and easy to find.
According to a peer-reviewed article on the impact of color on marketing, a customer forms an opinion about a product after only 90 seconds, and 60-90% of that decision is rooted in color.
That means you have a minute and a half to make your case, and a majority of that case revolves around color.
If you’re a kid’s brand, focus on vibrant yellows, reds and greens. Be playful with your palette.
Beauty brands tend to splatter their home pages with pink and purple, which emphasize femininity and sophistication.
Health companies can use greens to talk about authenticity and freshness. Of course, these things can be said through other methods, but color is one effective way to communicate them.
These are some specific color associations to focus on:
Red: Imagine a world where the bright red of a stop sign was replaced with the dull sheen of indigo. Hard to picture, right? That’s because red usually represents alertness and attention. It can signal danger. It can signal strength. Campaigns emphasizing love and passion use red to narrate their stories. Red prompts action, making it perfectly suited for a CTA. Red can also increase breathing and pulse rates, so use it sparingly.
Orange: If red is the bold exclamation point, then orange is the softer period. It is warm and inviting without being overpowering. Perfect for designs that thrive off of energy and creativity, orange can present an amiable greeting and create a cozy layout. It’s playful and positive. Confident in a soft-spoken way. Orange also represents cheapness, so you can use it to communicate affordability.
Yellow: There are two sides to yellow. On the one hand, it’s cheerful and bright and brimming with energy. On the other, less desirable hand, yellow is sometimes slightly sickly, especially when seen by men. Generally, yellow evokes a healthy mind and positive attitude. Restaurants use it to trigger appetites, toy stores use it to portray joy. However, yellow can be too in-your-face, so be cautious when using it.
Green: Green blossoms best in brands focused on freshness. It recalls nature, wildlife and the great outdoors. Use it to promote rejuvenation and calmness. Use a darker shade when talking about money and wealth. Green also means growth, and works wonderfully for any form of health-focused or ethical cause.
Blue: There’s a reason Facebook and PayPal choose blue. Blue asks for trust, demands dependence. If that’s what you need from users, then blue accents are certainly useful. Blue is also links to coolness and serenity, so use it if you want to promote peace. However, since most blue foods in the wild are poisonous (think berries) blue can suppress appetites, meaning you shouldn’t use it for any food ads.
Purple: Purple is synonymous with royalty and aristocracy. In classical paintings, it fills the lines of kings’ robes, and it holds that same prestige today. A brand focusing on luxury products can build their base with it, especially by using darker shades of purple. Lighter shades ooze elegance, so you’ll find feminine brands painting their pages with purple.
Pink: If you’re reaching out to a largely female audience, apply pink to your website While pink is the most feminine color, be wary that not all women are fans. Use it to foster romantic moods or youthful vibes.
Black: Black is the classic shine of a retro car, the sleekness of a leather jacket. It’s timeless. Find it bracing the pages of fashion editorials, or setting up the foundation of a corporate website. Black cooperates well with other colors to provide contrast, or on its own to capture conventionalism and sophistication.