It’s remarkable how heavily humans are influenced by color. Certain shades and tones can affect everything from our blood pressure and appetite to our emotional responses and buying intentions. And this subconscious reaction to color continues online, which is why color psychology is such a crucial part of designing or revising a website.
Even though our eyes can process ten million colors, we tend to categorize them in primary blocks that influence our emotions in subtly different ways. We grow up viewing red dresses as alluring and seductive, while red sports cars infer power and aggression. Red is the color of danger and passion, so an environmental website is unlikely to adopt a scarlet or ruby backdrop. Green is the obvious color for a site championing environmental matters, since a bright shade of green suggests organic growth and a connection with the world.
Color psychology is a fascinating topic, with particular relevance for web designers and marketing managers. If used correctly within a digital marketing campaign, it can subconsciously bring audiences onboard without them even realizing…
Here are our top tips on how to apply color psychology to your brand:
Think about Greenpeace for a moment. Combining the name of nature’s most common color with a word used to describe tranquility, it’s instantly clear what this global charity focuses on. Companies wanting to launch an environmentally friendly product or service could do worse than incorporate the word ‘green’ into a title or advertising strapline, in the same way the letter ‘i’ is used to prefix product names to suggest technical excellence.
The use of Pantone color 363U in Greenpeace’s logo delivers an obvious and effective summary of the brand’s intentions. The Ferrari logo takes a very different tack, with a prancing black horse dominating a yellow heraldic badge against a red backdrop. Combining black’s authority with yellow’s arresting nature and red’s sense of danger, this logo perfectly encapsulates the flamboyant and slightly risqué nature of Italian supercars.
Since most websites have a monochrome backdrop, color psychology is particularly relevant to web designers. White is a default option, with black text nodding to the authority of newspapers or books. Dark text on a light background tends to be easier to read, though some digital marketing campaigns opt for colored text on black. Generally speaking, bright or unusual colors represent poor choices for background shades.
The use of particular colors in a digital marketing campaign can strongly influence the message being conveyed. These are some of the connotations and inferences that can be carried with a carefully selected shade or tone:
Some colors act as subliminal shorthand for creativity and risk-taking. Purple is particularly associated with imagination and originality, which is why brands like Yahoo and Wonka have adopted it into their branding. As well as suggesting creativity, orange projects a friendliness that has seen it adopted by youth-oriented brands such as Penguin Books and Nickelodeon.
The clear market leader here is black, perhaps dating back to a time when monochrome newspapers and books provided us with our news and knowledge. Black email backgrounds may be inadvisable, but black text and logos project supreme confidence and power. Black has also become the logo color of choice for 18 of the world’s top 100 companies. It’s used by brands who want to be seen as market leaders, from Nike and Sony to Apple and Chanel.
Scientifically proven to be the most arresting of all visible spectrum colors, yellow implies sunshine and brightness. Despite obvious gender connotations, pink is closely associated with optimism and love. From cotton candy to Cadillacs, it’s difficult to think of anything negative or downbeat involving pink. Landing pages or logos in these vibrant shades will catch the eye, though their playfulness may not sit well with authoritative brands or serious messages.
Snow, wedding dresses, icing…your mind has probably already identified the common attribute here. Color psychology is unambiguous regarding white, the favored tone for website and email backgrounds. Advertisers love white space on a page because it suggests simplicity and purity, while brands champion white for its positive connotations. This is also the color of cleanliness, making it ideal for health-related marketing campaigns.
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