This article was researched and created by Where The Trade Buys, a leading UK supplier of roll up banners for businesses.
There’s more to colour than simply being an eye-catching or pleasing element to a design or website.
Colour can be used to put across all kinds of messages and emotions, so it’s crucial that you understand the effects of your colour choices. For example, certain colour choices can conjure feelings of trust or calm. It can completely change the tone of a design.
In this article, we explore what ways colour can impact a design.
Messages with colour
Colour psychology is well documented and studied, but its use in effective design is relatively recent. However, there have been many scientific studies into the connection between shades and sales that appear to show a strong correlation. According to a Canadian experiment, nearly 90% of snap decisions regarding consumer products are based solely on colour.
If your website is geared towards mainly men or mainly women, this might change which colours are best for you to use. For example, a study published in the Journal of Retailing found that men believed savings were much greater in value if they was advertised in red rather than black, while the difference was much smaller among women. The imbalance of colour psychology between males and females was also apparent in the study, Colour Assignment. Although blue was popular across the board, this study found that purple was a second-favourite colour for women but the second-least favourite among men. Similarly, other studies on colour attractiveness found that softer hues are preferred by women, while bold shades were liked by men. Are you using the right hues for your main consumer?
Colour can also be used to achieve certain aims in marketing or advertising on a website. For example, studies have shown that yellow is utilised to grab attention and should perhaps be the colour of choice in store windows, while red is most people’s key indicator of discount prices and ‘urgency’ and should be used on clearance sales posters for optimum effect. Also, both these shades are warm colours. According to an experiment, these are better at sticking in a viewer’s memory than cool colours (like blue and green). So, it might be good to use them on promotional ads to keep consumers thinking about your offer for longer, as well as your brand logo itself to ensure you come to mind when they next need a product or service you offer.
Consider colour combinations too. Another study found that contrasting shades also improved readability — essential if you want your outdoor banner to be seen by more people from a greater distance. Although research suggests that personal experiences and cultural backgrounds can affect how we perceive colour, it’s clear that it plays a role in our cognitive process, which makes it worth your consideration when it comes to the few second you have to catch a consumer’s eye and attract them to your brand.
Logos and branding: colour changes
How does colour psychology effect a brand’s image? According to research compiled by Kissmetrics, 85% of shoppers surveyed say colour is a primary reason for buying something. Also, it was found that colour boosts brand recognition by around 80%.
You can achieve different messages and emotions depending on your choice of colour. Here are the emotions associated with each colour and examples of the successful brands that use them:
|Yellow||Optimism and youth||Chupa Chups and McDonalds|
|Green||Growth and relaxation||Starbucks and Asda|
|Pink||Romance and femininity||Barbie and Very|
|Purple||Creative and wise||Cadbury and Hallmark|
|Black||Power and luxury||Chanel and Adidas|
|Orange||Confidence and happiness||Nickelodeon and Fanta|
|Red||Energy and excitement||Coca Cola and Virgin Holidays|
|Blue||Trust and security||Barclays and the NHS|
We can argue that certain brands are using the correct shade in their logo to create the ideal ‘personality’ for their company. For example, inciting trust for a bank is important, which may be why Barclays chose blue, while Starbucks wants you to relax at their coffee shops and Virgin Holidays wants you to get excited about booking a trip. According to June Mcleod, author of Colour Psychology Today: “One of the greatest assets and one of the easiest ways to sway decision or attract an emotive response — or alienate a consumer — is through colour. Purple with Cadbury; Shell with Yellow; National Trust with Green — they all work and work wonderfully well.”
Some colours lend themselves better to some aims, but there’s no right or wrong answer; consider how Halifax and Santander use totally different colours, despite both being banks. Consider the statistic that 80% of clients think a colour is accountable for brand recognition. If you want your customers to gain a sense of loyalty and familiarity with your brand, the colour should reflect your brand’s products, services and character.
Colour in advertising
When designing or redesigning a website, you have a perfect chance to use colour to represent the brand or service in the way you want. Take beer company, Carlsberg, for example. The marketing team here worked to rebrand using colour with great success. Using white for its Carlberg Export packaging and changing its formerly green bottles to brown; the company achieved 10,000 new distribution points and a sales increase of 10% in the 12 weeks leading to summer in 2017.
The below lists a few colour tactics you can consider in your designs:
- Capitalise on the advantages of red and yellow: use these on your large print ads to increase the chances of catching the eyes of passers-by.
- Contrast your colours: as we discovered, using opposite shades (e.g. red and green) can improve text clarity — essential considering you have just seven seconds to make a bold first impression and get your point across.
- Consider your demographic: there are clearly some difference in how men and women perceive colour. Who do you mainly sell to? If it’s men, perhaps take these gender studies on board and avoid purple…
- Work out your brand’s ‘personality’: studies clearly show an affiliation between colour and emotion. Determine what you want consumers to think about your brand and choose a colour that reflects this ethos — whether it’s opulent (black) or fun (orange).
Colour is obviously very important in a website design as well as how a brand is marketed. Make sure you are aware of the impact it can have on your viewers.