Emotion is the primary target when it comes to persuasion. And in order to create a positive or negative user experience, nothing – not even images or words – can appeal more to human emotions than colour.
The psychology of colour is, however, a subject of disagreement in the marketing industry, since colour preferences vary between individuals. For instance, while many people prefer blue over green, newly born conjoined twins might actually take precedence over contrasting t-shirt tinges.
It does not matter whether you are designing a book, developing a website or simply branding your business, colours impact everyone; defining mood and influencing responses. In fact, the colour theory is a highly complex subject.
Colour psychology: the basics
Before incorporating the current colour scheme into your business logo, design and packaging, it would be advisable to realize that psychology is quite different from chemistry. It is not an exact science because it studies human behaviour and not the conduct of inanimate objects without thoughts or feelings. Upon deciding to change your work-scheme colours, based on the theory of colour psychology, it is suggested that you do it methodically and test every minor change against conversion improvement.
Nonetheless, mentioned below is a list of basic moods, generally ascribed to specific colours. There may also be implications for design tinctures based upon the customer being courted.
Generally, black connotes sophistication and luxury. Dyson Vacuum uses a lot of black to peculiarly showcase their high-end packaging. The product is, indeed, a symbol of sophistication and A1 quality.
Blue is a varying but popular colour amongst consumers. Retailers, such as banks, who want clients to trust them, usually use a lot of blue. On the contrary, if you’re developing a product or service that requires trust on the part of the customers, using blue in your design will definitely help promote it.
- Purples and Burgundies
These usually connote a sense of royalty and refinement, especially in darker shades. However, lighter shades that move towards pink and violet have a more feminine appeal and are often used when promoting products to female consumers.
According to some psychologists, green evokes a number of, or individual, perceptions such as wealth, feelings of calmness, and is more recently being used by companies who want to be recognized as eco-friendly. Greenworks displays the products on its website under a similar ‘green’ tinge.
In contrast with pink or violet, brown is often associated with masculinity and is used to maintain the focus of men. An engagement towards this feeling can work to convert male shoppers; consider whether your product or service lends itself to this colour just like Dollar Shave Club.
These colours tend to evoke emotions of urgency and energy; often used as contrast colours for CTA buttons to compel users to subscribe or buy.
The colour wheel
Top brands, businesses and entrepreneurs are constantly working towards improving their knowledge about the colour wheel and how it can lead to increased sales and lead generation. According to NeuroMarketing, “if a good color sells, the right color sells better”. The colour must pertain to the text, button or the overall product theme.
Understanding colour psychology for what it is, does not relate to manipulating or deceiving customers into buying what they don’t want or need. The colour theory, instead, suggests meeting needs of the target audience and building your brand.
The role of colour in customer buying decisions
Up to 90% of subconscious judgment is based on colour. We are not being just judgmental when claiming so because there is substantial research that backs up this audacious claim.
A study conducted by the analytics company Loyalty Square found that 84.7% of the total respondents think of colour being more important than many other factors, while choosing products for buying.
Further research by QuickSprout found that 85% of shoppers consider colour to be the primary reason for buying a product. In short, when it comes to consumer transactions, colour is, indeed, a big deal.
The power of colour to catapult conversion rates
Now as we dig more into the exciting stuff, what colours do you think can improve your conversion rates and boost the bottom line? How can you use the psychological colour theory to get people to click on a button?
Many conversion rate optimization experts claim that a bold, eye-catching red is the best colour for a button, while others prefer green to be aptly suited because green means ‘go’.
Plenty of A/B test results show that a change in the colour of a CTA button makes a significant impact on signups. Here is a famous test shared by Hubspot, from their early days, when they were still known as Performable:
Even though it was originally predicted that the green button would perform better, the red button resulted in 21% more clicks. In the end, they warned their readers that this test result alone should not have every business marketer run out and change their buttons to red. It is possible that their audience simply prefers red over any other colour.
While there isn’t a magical colour that would consistently perform best for all websites, there are certain rules of thumb that can help you use colours to your advantage.
When it comes to which colours increase conversion rates, there are, unfortunately, no established universal rules. The colour changes that lead to an increase in conversions, for your e-Commerce website, rely mainly on the industry your company is in, as well as the target audience’s demographic profile (age, gender, occupation etc.).
Therefore, in order to find out which colours work most effectively for your business, you will have to carry out a series of tests to see which settings improve results and which ones don’t. The A/B testing method is strongly suggested to all companies that are heavily inclined towards reputation management and experimenting with colours on their product blogs.
2. The contrast-key: make it stand out
If you want users to click on something, make it stand out! If your app or site uses a lot of orange, customers probably won’t notice an orange button right away, no matter how well the colour performs in a company’s A/B test.
Contrast is not only about complementary colours on the colour wheel, it is also about value. A dark button would stand out more against a light background compared to a lighter shade.
In a study conducted by usertesting, users were asked to show the first thing they would click on each website. Unsurprisingly, browsers were more likely to click on a CTA button that strongly contrasted with the background.
3. Bright is easy to remember
In the 50-person study conducted by usertesting, the final question asked of the users was on the sites they had recently visited. 50 percent of the audience chose one of the bright sites as the ‘most memorable’.
The other half, who chose one of the lighter platforms, did so because of something unrelated to the design. For instance, one user thought Dropbox was easier to remember, since she had an account associated with it.
4. Listen to your users
You are highly advised to keep in mind factors such as different perception of colour schemes, traditional associations and accessibility concerns when you’re creating a new online design.
The decision in the end is the one that your users think is right. This is why it is extremely important to get feedback from your target audience early in the process. Find out if your colour choices are affecting your users in the exact same way you expected them to.
Colour psychology is a must-know field for office managers, architects, chefs, gardeners, packaging designers, store owners and even the expectant parents painting the nursery for the new arrival!
The idea itself, however, isn’t magic. By incorporating it into your personal design and CTA’s, do not always expect it to boost your conversions by huge amounts. Use it as one of the many tools you have in your box to entice potential clients. And when you do make changes, be sure to test those colour schemes for efficacy.
Audrey Throne is a mother and a professional blogger by choice. She has completed her masters in English literature from the University of Birmingham. As a blogger she wrote quite a few posts on health, technology as well as management. Currently, she is an associate of Brain Test with Team.
Find her on Twitter: @audrey_throne.