Colors elicit different emotions in people and can be the deciding factor on whether you buy a product or have a positive user experience on a brand’s website. Color psychology has become an important consideration in a company's marketing and branding activities, but still remains a complex subject with some misconceptions. How can brands use color in their marketing to influence purchasing behavior and maximize conversion rates and sales?
On the internet, just like in our everyday lives, colors have an important impact on how we behave and how we feel. Colors trigger emotional cues - they can evoke various emotions in people and can even make the difference on which phone or car you choose to buy, or on the experience and impression you have on a company’s website, with their marketing content, or in their physical store. In fact, 85% of shoppers say that color is the primary reason for buying a product.
Color has a powerful psychological effect on an individual, so when it comes to marketing and branding, companies need to carefully choose the right colors for their logos, elements of their websites, visuals and marketing messages. Doing so makes their content more attractive and visible, but can also influence the decisions their customers make. Colors and color combinations impact where we look, and how we connect with and interpret what we are looking at. Color can ultimately impact a company’s brand recognition - it can increase brand recognition by 80% - as well as the customer experiences it offers, and thus its conversion rates.
Color impacts everyone, but can also affect people differently. Still, color psychology, which studies the effects - sometimes even subconscious ones - various colors have on people’s emotions, gives a pretty good idea of how to best associate colors and emotions. So which colors make us feel happy or sad, and which ones communicate excitement versus reliability?
Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the most common colors and their general effects:
Typically, the color red is associated with excitement. It’s an energizing and attention-grabbing color, and can create a sense of urgency and even feelings of hunger. For these reasons, it is often used for call-to-action buttons on a website and is often associated with brands like Coca-Cola, Ferrari or McDonald’s.
Blue on the other hand is often associated with tranquility and trust. Blue happens to be the most preferred color of both men and women. It’s not surprising that many brands employ blue on their e-Commerce stores and in their marketing content to stimulate a sense of security and promote trust in their products. A study of the world’s top 100 brands found that 33% of them use the color blue.
The color green is often associated with nature and the environment. It evokes feelings of health, peace and growth. Green is often used to “relax” customers in stores and is used by brands that sell environmentally-related, eco-friendly or health-based products like gardening retailer Leroy Merlin and organic supermarket chain Whole Foods. In Europe, McDonald’s even replaced its signature red background color with green in order to reflect its commitment to the environment.
Yellow, the signature color of smiley faces, is unsurprisingly linked with cheerfulness, fun and a positive attitude. Meanwhile, orange combines the friendliness of yellow with the energy of red to create feelings of adventure, originality and warmth. It is a color that is widely used by sports teams and by motorcycle brand Harley-Davidson, and has even become the name and color adopted by French Telecom provider, Orange. Purple is commonly linked to royalty and spirituality, while black is the color of exclusivity and power, and the list goes on...
As you can see, colors reflect the personality of brands. Your primary color selection will define your brand’s identity, but can allow you to convey your core values and messages, and bring you closer to your target audience. But using color in your marketing goes far beyond the one or two colors you’ve chosen for your logo and website design - which are of course important for brand consistency. Colors should be implemented in all types of marketing and advertising channels to drive traffic and clicks - on your websites and landing pages of course, but also in your packaging and in-store signage, or on your social media posts and banner ads.
Based on color psychology, colors and color contrasts can help make your content more inviting to your readers and viewers. They affect the usability and user experience of your content and help persuade a customer to click on “add to cart,” “book a demo” or “subscribe now.”
On the other hand, the effects colors have on the performance of your content can vary depending on different contexts. For example, on a channel like Facebook which is predominantly blue, you may want to use other contrasting colors to help your content stand out more. Color perception also varies by gender, location and context. Women may prefer purple while men prefer green. Some colors, like white, may have different meanings and associations across countries or cultures. And let's not forget the seasonal palette - using specific colors for holidays, or warm and cold colors depending on the season.
The way we react to color is also dependent on our personal preferences and experiences. We can make general judgments and classifications regarding colors, but it is a field that is not as clear cut and rigid as marketers would hope. Color psychology is personal, and context will always play a role in how we respond - or don’t respond, to a specific marketing content. For example, just because red is often regarded as the best color for a call-to-action, doesn’t mean it always is.
Brands need to take into account various contextual factors and A/B test their marketing content to determine which color combinations work best and generate the most traffic and leads or customers.
That all being said, how can companies use color to ensure they maximize the effectiveness of their content? A relatively new field of Digital Asset Management (DAM) called Digital Experience Management (DXM), sometimes referred to as Digital Experience Platforms, answers this question. It allows companies to dynamically alter the content of a marketing material in order to match better with the specific context of their target audience.
Digital Experience Management makes your content more relevant and impactful because it provides a high level of personalization: it can automatically detect and change colors of your assets to fit better with the context. Companies that use this type of solution are able to identify which color, or shade of a color increases efficiency of the visual based on metadata like asset type, product category, localization or device etc. And then, among different photos of the same product, you can automatically choose a specific shade for a specific context, or automatically apply a color filter to adapt a photo.
For example, you can automatically change the background color, the landscape, or color temperature of an image so that it is most appropriate to the time, the geolocation, the weather or the likes of the consumer. By making your content ‘atomic’ - layering various visual elements to create a new piece of marketing content - Digital eXperience Management allows you to create multiple combinations of the same marketing content in order to find the one that will improve the user experience, your conversion rate and thus drive revenue.
Color can bring your business many opportunities. It is an important factor in your branding efforts, and in your marketing and advertising materials, but it is also one that works alongside other variables. We may buy consumer products based on factors like smell or taste, but color is always going to be a subtle, yet powerful variable that influences our everyday purchases. And just like in the physical world, using color psychology successfully in your digital marketing will rely on taking into account other considerations, like the quality of your content or product, its creative design and placement, a user’s specific tastes and context, and of course, the willingness to constantly test.