When it comes to increasing conversion rates, there is a myriad of things to consider. Email subject lines, call-to-action messages, and using the right imagery. But sometimes, just changing the colors of your website and other marketing assets can do the trick.
In this article, we touch on color psychology and how you can use it to your advantage.
What is Color Psychology and How Does It Work?
In the marketing field, color psychology refers to the study of colors in relation to human behavior. It’s used to identify how it affects day-to-day decisions such as what brands we trust and what nudges us to purchase decisions. While it may not be obvious to some, there’s a reason why the major social media platforms, for example, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn use blue for their branding color schemes (more on this later). And why McDonald’s mix of red and yellow has become so universally known that you can put a different text under the logo and people would still think of the colossal fast-food chain.
But before we proceed, it’s important to note that while colors can impact our impressions and feelings, it’s effects are largely dependent on factors like upbringing, gender, location, values, among others. For example, there are regions where black is a color of mourning, while it is white for others.
As you can see above, color psychology has identified what certain colors generally mean to most people. Blue, as alluded to earlier, imbues trust and reliability, which is why social the previously mentioned social platforms choose it for their brand.
As such, when conceptualizing your branding, it’s important to pay attention to the colors you use – for your website, emails, and other marketing assets. As noted by Oberlo, by strategically using colors in your branding and marketing campaigns, you can get your audience to see what you want them to see and help them perceive your brand the way you want it to be perceived.
Conversely, poor color choices can damage your brand image. It could also lead to your messages being unreadable, or turn people’s eyeballs away altogether.
Not only can colors influence how people think and feel toward a brand, but they could also help/hinder how they consume and process information. This is why marketers need to understand what different colors generally mean.
Colors of The Mind
Red is often associated with excitement, energy, and action. As the most intense color, it can evoke the strongest emotions. In the world of business, it’s often referred to as a call-to-action color.
As Impact points out, there are a number of prevalent uses of red to match specific emotions. Red hearts often mean love, while the cross in the Red Cross logo (and hospitals) symbolizes aid and support. In school, a teacher often marks incorrect answers with a red pen, and it’s also a universal signal for “Stop.”
Frequently, colors come with an emotional spectrum. Understanding this will allow you to utilize it to your advantage by using it properly and tugging at the right emotion at the right time.
As a color that’s often associated with sunshine, yellow evokes feelings of happiness, positivity, and summer. Conversely, it’s also used as a warning. For websites, it’s an easy tool to use on borders to give a cheery feel. It’s also great for messages like “Free Shipping,” which tends to catch users’ attention.
It’s important to note, though, that you need to be careful if you choose to use yellow as the primary color of your website. There’s a fine line between uplifting the mood of your visitors and annoying them with fake cheer.
Orange has been known to signify creativity, enthusiasm, adventure, and success. In marketing, it’s been used to add a sense of fun to any marketing material it’s on. It’s also commonly used for CTAs and areas of the website marketers want to draw attention to.
As a combination of red and yellow, orange combines the former’s power and energy with the latter’s friendliness and fun. It can also even stimulate the appetite. As noted by Coschedule, orange is great for bringing comfort in tough times, and overall, lends a positive attitude and general enthusiasm for life.
You might notice that color psychology is often tied up with nature. And when it comes to blue, because it’s closely associated with the sea and the sky, it’s been used to symbolize stability, calm, and trust. However, under a different light, it can also bring a sense of coldness and depression.
But more often than not, it’s used in web design for guarantees and trust certifications in order to imbue reliability and trustworthiness. Some of the biggest brands like Facebook, Walmart, and to a lesser extent, Oral B use it as their main color palette.
Growth, fertility, and generosity are some of the traits associated with green, whilst also being highly associated with nature and money. This is why brands that want to evoke a healthy lifestyle often use it. Similarly, brands like John Deere, which revolve around nature have been known to use green as their main color.
Innocence, goodness, and cleanliness are some of the things associated with white. But as alluded to earlier, this is mostly true for the western world. In some cultures, it could serve a different meaning. This is something you need to keep in mind when thinking of your web design and your audience.
Hue Profit: How to Make Color Psychology Work for your Business
Before we kick this section off, it’s important to keep in mind that in order to be effective, you need to use colors in the right way, with the right audience, at the right time, and for the right purpose. For example, if you want to promote something fun, it would be best to use vibrant colors. Or if you want to sell to women, brown and orange might not be the best choices.
Below, we dive into how to use color psychology to drive conversions.
What women want
As noted by Neil Patel, a survey on color and gender showed that 35% of women said blue was their favorite color. Meanwhile, 33% said that orange was their least favorite, followed by brown (33%). This has both been corroborated by other studies and real life. If you try and look at websites whose primary audience is women, you’re less likely to see orange, brown, or gray.
Instead, women prefer primary colors with tints as opposed to earthy tones.
Now, for the men
As it turns out, men are also averse to orange and brown (and purple). If you have a male-dominated audience, use blue, green, and black instead. It’s important to note that while studies have shown these to be the preferred male colors, it’s not as black and white (pun intended). However, it is a great starting point for A/B testing.
It’s not all bad for orange, though. While both men and women rank it as one of their least favorite colors, orange can be used to create a sense of haste or impulse. It also helps stimulate physical activity, competition, and confidence (as Austrian motorcycle manufacturer KTM uses to the full extent).
But even if it’s not in one of your brand’s color palettes, you can utilize orange for CTAs and other info that you want to stand out. Amazon is a perfect example of this.
Keep in mind, though, that orange should be used sparingly, as it could overwhelm the actual message.
Back to black
Patel also points out that according to their internal color psychology, the darker the tone, the more sense of lux it imbues. As such, black has been used to symbolize elegance, sophistication, and power.
Louis Vuitton does away with all the fun colors for their website. Luxury handbags are serious business and their website expresses that. The same theory is also applied by Lamborghini as you can see below:
Orange isn’t the only color you can use for your CTAs. Bright, primary colors are also effective choices for them.
It may be counterintuitive, but some of the best conversion colors are often viewed as anti-aesthetic as it does well to capture attention.
The use of white can serve as a powerful design feature. That’s why it features so much on the most popular website on the planet.
Giving your website ample white space gives it a sense of spaciousness and breathability, making it calming to visitors as they navigate it and find the information they need.
Don’t resist change
As mentioned earlier, while there are studies to support color psychology, it’s not always cut and dry. If you find that your audience isn’t responding as desired, consider changing things up.
Even if your main colors are working, when it comes to your CTAs and special messages, consider A/B testing different color options to find the ones that convert optimally.
Remember, there’s a difference between color combinations that are aesthetically pleasing and color psychology. A web designer may come up with an awesome-looking design, but if it doesn’t convert and visitors don’t perform the actions you want them to, then what good is it for?
As well, don’t think you can’t shake things up. The bottom line is the business bottom line. If reaching that requires changing even the most primary colors on your branding, take the time to consider its potential effects.