Digital marketing has completely altered the way companies promote their products and services. With so many features, strategies, and audiences to choose from, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and overlook some of the most basic elements, like the colors you choose for your website. This is the reason why knowing what color makes people want to buy things is so important.
Have you ever wondered why most insurance companies use blue in their logo? Or why so many sports teams like to include red and other warm colors in their logos?
The reason is simple: they are using color psychology to their advantage.
Using Colors That Entice a Sale or Influence an Action the Most
It’s no secret that colors like red and blue have a deep psychological effect on humans, so the different tones you implement in your marketing materials can influence how well your product performs. The colors on your website design, social profiles, and logo directly impact the way customers perceive your brand, which influences the results you get from your marketing materials.
While important, learning the meaning of colors and the effect each one produces is not enough to choose the right tones. To increase your chances of success, you should understand the color wheel, find sound combinations that help attract potential customers, and experiment with a few different options before making a final decision.
Business owners. Product designers, and marketing managers that take the time to learn about the psychology of color can use this knowledge to develop more engaging solutions. That said, it’s important to understand the individual effects of the different hues, how to implement these on your site, and the impact they have on your conversion rates.
Below, we’ll go over everything you need to know about color psychology.
Overview of Color Psychology
The effects of color on human behavior have been studied profoundly for the last few decades through a practice called color psychology. With this in mind, testing theories about the color and how it affects customer psychology is challenging, so finding the ideal combination may require a bit of extra work. This means that in most cases you need to run a few tests in order to determine what hues make people want to buy your products.
Research suggests that it takes potential customers one-and-a-half minutes to think about a product and determine whether or not they like it. About 90% of this entire decision is attributed to the color combination, which has the ability to influence the way customers feel at that specific moment. And, while this doesn’t necessarily prove that employing a specific combination will automatically boost your sales, it’s enough evidence to keep colors in mind when creating your marketing materials.
The truth is that colors like blue and their meanings influence almost all aspects of our daily lives. From the tones inside of a house to the hues found in a stop sign or an office, color is a key variable that can affect how people behave. So, implementing the right color schemes on your site and promotional materials may be exactly what you need to get more customers online.
More helpful reading: What is Personalized Marketing for Websites
What is the Best Color Combination?
Top web design experts often debate over the best tones and combinations for websites – and for good reason.
After all, the hues in place will affect not only the mood of your visitors, but also functional elements like navigation and readability. If you’re trying to develop a website design that delivers a great experience to your target audience, you need to think ahead and look at the color theory wheel to make the right choice.
First off, you need to ensure a good contrast for your text and background, so you want to choose colors like black and white to make sure they’re legible. If you place white letters on a light gray background, potential customers won’t be able to read the text on your site. To avoid this issue, you should choose colors that have high contrast, for example black and white.
Additionally, you should think about the effect you want to have on your customers. For instance, if your website sells travel packages and vacation rentals, you’ll want to use calming colors like green or blue to put customers in the right state of mind. Or, if you’re selling home security accessories, you may want to use red and other intense colors that put customers in a state of alert.
If you’re still not sure what colors you want to use as a base, you can always think outside of the box and draw inspiration from your logo, branding, or products. In case these colors don’t work or match your intent, consider using these same hues but in lighter shades, but remember that this also minimizes the psychological effect it has on customers.
When Do You Need to Use Color?
From that stop sign you walk by every day on your way to work to the buttons on your TV remote, color is everywhere.
But, in the context of this article, we’re talking about hues on your website and other promotional materials.
In terms of your website, there’s no set of specific colors you should use. Instead, look at your industry and figure out what type of scheme would work best. For example, if you manage a crematorium you should avoid using bright colors like pink or orange that are often associated with positive thoughts. Likewise, companies that publish children’s books want to avoid black and other cold tones because these are often associated with negative emotions.
As a rule of thumb, you want to have a white or light background and include color in the headline, hero image, sub-headers, call-to-action (CTA) buttons, pop-ups, as well as the footer. Even if you have a user-friendly layout, the wrong color affects navigation and often produces the appearance of clutter. This is the reason why having a light background usually works better than red, blue, green, or similar colors.
When it comes to infographics, ebooks, and other promotional materials, you have a lot more flexibility in terms of color schemes. Warm colors like red, orange, and pink always perform well because they are associated with taking action, but you should always make sure that the text and background have a good contrast. Cool colors like blue and purple also have their place, but you have to implement them according to your goals.
You can also get away with adding more color than you would on a website, but remember that too many hues may end up overwhelming potential customers and make them think about the wrong things.
The Importance of Implementing Colors in the Right Way
What is the most depressing color? Which colors make us think about sad thoughts? And what about the best colors for advertising signs? What colors are associated with other negative feelings? Is it possible to find images of colors for your site or do you need to develop your own?
According to color theory, each one of these questions has multiple answers depending on who you ask and what your goal is. Remember, there is no perfect formula to identify the best color scheme, so you’ll need to evaluate your audience and keep your final purpose in mind when choosing a combination for your promotion strategy.
The key to implementing colors the right way is to match the intent that a user has when he or she sees your promotional content. Think about the colors like a tag or sign that helps your customers find the right business.
This is the reason why almost all insurance companies use blue as part of their color scheme. Blue is known to have a soothing effect, inspire trustworthiness, and make people feel safe, so these businesses capitalize on these triggered feelings to create a stronger bond with their audiences.
In addition to the hues you use, you also have to watch the color rates and make sure that the distribution of tones is well-balanced. If the ratio is not right, the primary color will not have the same impact, so there’s a lower chance you’ll get the results you’re looking for. Instead, focus on finding a balance and create promotional materials that draw positive attention to your products, like an innovative website or specific social media materials.
Color Tips to Improve Conversion Rates
We know that certain colors can affect the body and have effects like increased heart rate and have other physiological indicators. But, one of the most interesting things about color psychology is the different meanings according to distinct cultures. While black is regarded as the color of mourning in North America, gold, purple, red, and white are all used to grieve for loved ones in different parts of the world.
Similarly, you have to understand what different hues and color combinations represent to avoid giving customers the wrong impression. The psychology of the colors you use will directly impact how your audience feels about you, so you don’t want to be associated with hues that have a negative connotation.
Keep in mind that certain colors and color combinations may have opposing effects. Take colors like red for example, a hue that’s associated with passion, leadership, and perseverance. However, red is also the color of blood and it’s associated with aggression. If you overload your page with red elements, you run the risk of creating the wrong emotions and deterring customers from absorbing your promotional message.
Although it’s not a definitive guide, the color psychology chart below can help you understand the positive and negative emotions that each individual hue may invoke.
Here are a few tips to help you choose the best colors for your promotional materials.
Sociological Color Preferences
When analyzed objectively, there are sociological factors that influence how people perceive colors, so you need to find the combination that allows you to prompt the right action according to your goals. Some of these factors vary depending on things like the audience you want to target as well as your area, but these are almost always out of your control. Your best bet is to take them into consideration and adjust the color scheme you use to avoid creating a negative impression.
A good example would be the notion that women are not attracted to brown, orange, or gray. In other words, female consumers are not attracted to earthy tones, but prefer lighter hues. And, even though it’s associated with femininity, different surveys suggest that women are not particularly attracted to pink, so using this color in a female-oriented industry doesn’t guarantee much in terms of performance.
Potential female customers are more drawn to green, blue, and purple. So, brands that want to target this segment of the market can use this information to build more attractive products as well as promotional content. If a color scheme is already in place, these companies can always implement these hues in seasonal promotions as well as other materials.
Like women, men aren’t attracted to brown or orange, but they don’t link purple either. Green, blue, and black tend to be the most attractive colors for male consumers.
Analyzing What Different Colors Mean
Like other advanced fields, the study of color psychology is in a relatively early stage of development, so there is no absolute information available about the effects different hues may have. In order to find the color combination that makes people want to buy your products, you have to analyze the information that’s available and evaluate if it’s applicable to your specific case.
Despite the fact that there is no definitive data, there are many peer-reviewed reports that show a strong correlation between color and psychology. Research suggests that elements like the colors in university residence halls can affect the psychological function of students. Moreover, there’s also evidence that there is a link between the color red and dominance, which is one of the reasons it’s the most common hue for a stop sign. Although neither of these proves that a certain color affects behavior in a certain way, it does show that there is an undeniable link between colors and the way humans behave.
Business managers and marketers also need to conduct competitor research and assess the color schemes these companies are using. You should try to find similarities in the color schemes in place and figure out if you can use these to your advantage. Using the right colors can produce spectacular results, but you also have to stay original, find a scheme your audience members like, and make sure to create a unique identity for your company.
Based on the research we’ve compiled and analyzed, we’ve put together a list of the most important colors for promoting a product and what emotions they may potentially create in the audience.
Blue is for Trust
What does the color blue mean? As we’ve mentioned before, the color blue is often employed by companies that want to make people feel safe and protected. From a psychological perspective, the different tones of blue make people feel lighter and clear-headed. Blue color may help improve concentration and has a potentially soothing effect on people, which creates a sensation of safety.
The color blue is also associated with things like calmness, order, and friendship. Even though it doesn’t have the powerful physiological effects that other colors on this list may boast of, the subtle messages transmitted through blue revolve around peace and serenity, so it encourages your audience to relax, stay open to your message, and fulfill the action you want to carry out.
Some examples of companies that have adopted blue as a sign of reliability are PayPal, AT&T, Chase Bank, and of course Facebook. While these companies operate in different industries, they have leveraged the power of blue to help their customers feel safe and protected.
All of the above said, there are some industries that don’t bode well with the color blue. Restaurants and other food-related businesses should avoid using blue because this color may discourage people from eating more. This may be due to evolutionary reasons, but you’ll want to skip this one if you’re developing materials for a food-based business.
Use Yellow with Caution
What does the color yellow mean? And why is it employed for different types of caution signage?
In addition to red, yellow is the next most common color for a warning or stop sign. But, just because it attracts attention it doesn’t mean that it’s a good call for your promotional materials.
Some researchers have found that yellow promotes feelings of happiness and joy. Thousands of companies across the globe have used the color yellow to show their fun and playful side. But, it’s important to note that yellow prompts the part of the brain in charge of excitement. This has led some people to believe that yellow doesn’t produce true joy, but it may have a physiological effect due to heightened emotion.
One of the reasons why colors like yellow create a certain feeling is due to the experiences we often associated with these hues. Yellow is one of the colors of spring and fall seasons, which many people celebrate by spending time outdoors and by organizing family gatherings. Furthermore, yellow is also a common house color, so it’s normal to associate this color with things like happy experiences and childhood memories.
Some reports indicate that intense yellow may cause negative emotions. But, the majority of colors with an intense tone tend to cause negative effects, so this may be due to the intensity of the color rather than the yellow itself. And, even though it may be true that yellow can generate some anxiety, some industries benefit from having an audience that’s feeling more aware of their environment.
Green is a popular color for outdoor and garden supply stores because we relative it to nature, sustainability, and respect for the environment. Whether it’s in the form of a leaf or a completely unrelated symbol, green logos remind us of the natural resources we have available, and like blue, these can also produce a soothing sensation.
Besides being a color, the word “green” is also a term used to imply ecological friendliness and awareness. The same goes for the color green itself, it instantly reminds potential customers of growth, protection, and security. As a matter of fact, many small banks have adopted the color green and use it in combination with a nature-related logo to give their customers a feeling of safety and protection.
Moreover, people may also experience a burst of creative inspiration when exposed to the green color, meaning it could potentially stimulate the brain in unique ways. This is commonly called the “green effect” and some creative companies use it as a strategy during team building exercises.
When used for promotional purposes, the color green becomes a symbol for positive action. In this context, the color green takes on the same meaning as it does in a traffic light. Green means go, red means stop. This is the reason why many companies use it in the CTA buttons for newsletter signups, form requests, and even to entice people to buy a product.
Illicit a Response with Orange
Even though the color orange may not be a favorite in the female realm, this doesn’t mean you should discard this option right away. Orange is a happy, fun, and energetic color that may prompt customers to take action. In addition, orange may also help boost confidence, which is the reason it’s commonly found in team logos across the NFL, NBA, and other major sports leagues.
Orange is also an eye-catching color, so it’s a good choice if you want to convey a sense of urgency. Having limited offer banners and CTAs with orange elements is a good way to attract attention and make people want to take action. Just remember to use blue or similar colors to create contrast, especially if you’re using orange as the background color.
Although orange is a warm and fun color, choosing an unattractive tone may portray the wrong message. As with pink and red, the orange color meaning may vary depending on the exact shade you use, not to mention the effect it can potentially have on your customers.
In the vast majority of cases, orange is better left as an accent color. While there are some exceptions like Hubspot, having completely orange color schemes may overwhelm potential customers and make them anxious. Because it contains red, orange is more intense than yellow, so you should be careful with how you implement this color.
Also, keep in mind that some customers associate orange with more affordable options. If you specialize in selling a product or service at a low price, implementing orange color schemes may be a good way to attract more customers.
Back in Black
When talking about pigments, black is a combination of all colors and a powerful one at that. There are countless songs, movies, and other pieces of art inspired by the color black, not to mention a myriad of brands that use it as the base for their entire product identity. It’s an extremely versatile color because it can be used as a backdrop or as the main color in your logo and promotional materials. Furthermore, black can help accentuate other colors and improve visibility, making it a great choice for a variety of product manufacturers and retailers.
Black may be the color of mourning for some people, but everyone relates this color to things like luxury, elegance, and exclusivity. This doesn’t mean it can’t be used in other industries, but black is one of the most common colors in the realm of high-priced goods, including designer fashion, makeup, jewelry, and luxury vehicles. Some banks have even developed special “black cards” that have incredibly high spending limits, but are only available to an exclusive set of customers.
As always, the only way to implement black color schemes is to keep contrast in mind at all times. Even if you use warm colors like red, yellow, pink, or orange, customers may still find it difficult to read the content on your website, so always choose white and other light hues to ensure user-friendliness. Plus, using a black backdrop and colors like green, purple, or orange for the letters often makes people associate these materials to Halloween and other seasonal celebrations, so be careful with the combinations you choose.
White is the default color found in a large portion of websites because it’s easy to make sure there’s positive contrast and it can help highlight the quality of your product or service. Using a white background is the easiest way to ensure you have a good contrast. And, the smart use of white space can also help improve the usability and readability of your site, so there’s a low chance of overwhelming potential customers.
In addition to spacing out your content, white can also give your site a light, pure, and clean feeling. This color is a good call for industries like nutrition, healthcare, and wellness experts because it makes customers think about peaceful thoughts. It’s not advisable to use white on its own, but you can use it to highlight the imagery, headline, and other pieces of content on your website.
Keep in mind that white can also come off as uninviting or arrogant, so it’s important to find the right combination of colors to support the blank spaces on your site. White can help you draw attention to your branding colors, so it makes a great team when paired with blue, green, purple, red, and sometimes yellow as well as orange.
The use of white may seem boring to some customers, so you really have to know what your audience is looking for before focusing heavily on white and similar colors.
Gambling on Red
Red may be the biggest wildcard on this list because it draws a lot of attention, but it doesn’t always prompt the right feelings like happiness or joy. Red and secondary colors that contain this hue are commonly employed for warning signs along with black to help create contrast. The reason for this is because we associate red with blood, high temperatures, and other elements that usually become the center of our attention.
There’s also evidence suggesting that red is symbolic of the dominating force in a competitive scenario. According to research performed in the summer Olympics of 2004, individual competitors equipped with a red attire were far more dominant than their counterparts who were assigned a blue uniform. This means that your product may be more enticing just by featuring red color schemes or at least implementing highlights in this attractive color.
But, not everything about red can be spun to your advantage. Red and similar colors including orange have been shown to trigger physiological responses like increased heart rate, sweating, and pupil dilation. In other words, the fight or flight reflex is partially triggered by the color red, meaning that people may act on an impulse that isn’t always good.
Other research also suggests that red may have a negative effect on the way the brain performs. According to researchers from the University of Rochester, exposure to the color red may negatively affect the results of IQ tests, so you need to be careful about how you implement this hue into your color schemes.
Gray, silver, and similar colors are extremely versatile, so they are suitable for your logo, website, ebooks, and other types of promotional materials. The color gray often makes customers think about power, influence, and innovation, not to mention the fact that it goes well with almost all colors.
In some cases, gray is used as an accent in the logo and home page, but it works well as one of the main colors in your product and overall branding. It’s also suitable for a variety of industries because it’s almost emotionally neutral, which is the reason it’s used in home repair, IT, and other types of advertising campaigns.
When combined with white and blue, gray gives an elegant appearance that also instills confidence in customers. That said, this combination of color affects people in a simple way because it has been used for hundreds of branding campaigns, so it’s more of a safe bet rather than a way to make your company stand out.
Even if it’s not a part of your brand colors, gray text boxes and similar elements can help improve the experience customers have on your site. Implementing lighter gray boxes may also get you creativity points with your audience and might give your website a unique aesthetic appeal because it’s not common in all industries.
Rooting for the Browns
Brown is often considered a masculine color that portrays power and ambition. Certain shades of brown even share the same elegance as black while offering a unique warmth that makes it ideal for casual and professional settings alike, similar to the color pink. Easy to combine with other colors, brown is also a synonym of stability and growth that’s often associated with nature and similar topics.
It’s true that brown isn’t particularly appealing to the masses because it doesn’t pop, but it makes people think about safety, structure, and support. Almost everything we use to produce food and other goods comes from the ground, so this color is commonly associated with themes relating to progress and sustainable development.
According to color theory, customers think about brown as one of the more serious colors like black and gray, so it’s a good hue for any company that wants to portray a professional and down-to-Earth appearance. But, you should also choose one or two supporting colors that give your brand a more lively and modern identity. Luckily, brown can be combined with a variety of colors, plus you can always minimize its use to transmit your professionalism while ensuring you don’t come across as boring.
Orange, pink, and brown make an exceptionally good trio because the first two entice people to take action while the latter reminds them of your company’s steadfast reputation.
In medieval times, the color purple became a synonym of royalty, luxury, and power because it was among the hardest dye colors to acquire. Today, most people think about spirituality, imagination, creativity, and innovation when they imagine this color.
Purple is created by combining blue and red, which means that it merges the soothing effects of blue with the remarkable power of red. This striking balance has come to symbolize courage, magic, and the development of new concepts as well as unique ideas. Purple is a mysterious color, but luxury companies have capitalized on this by creating a mystique around their most iconic product lines, which entices consumers to take action.
There’s no doubt that the color purple can stir strong emotions in your target audience, but like orange and yellow, it also has the ability to overwhelm people. Depending on the tone and amount used, purple can become a distraction that causes people to lose track of what they’re doing or which product they are searching for.
Purple is also similar to orange because it’s a popular choice among sports teams of all levels. This hue plays well with other colors and it can be employed as the main tone in your branding, but remember to use a friendly shade that encourages people to take action.
Implementing Colors to Your Calls-to-Action
The CTAs on your website are designed to tell people what actions you want them to take, which can encourage them to take action and buy your products or inquire about your services. They may seem random to some people, but CTA buttons need to be strategically located in order to generate the right results.
In addition to placement, your CTA also needs to keep color psychology in mind, work to help your branding, and include colors that make people want to buy. In the majority of scenarios, dark colors like brown, purple, and grey don’t make good CTA choices. While the best choice may vary depending on your company and what your customers prefer, green, red, yellow, orange, and other eye-catching colors tend to improve the results you get from your CTA buttons.
Because green is associated with positive responses it’s usually used for call-to-action buttons. That said, orange and red buttons have also earned a reputation for producing good results. There’s no silver-bullet solution, so you’ll simply have to run a few tests to find out which option is best for you.
You may also have to choose more than one color for your CTA. Depending on your web design, the button may be encased in a complementary color that, as you’ve probably guessed already, also influences the performance of your CTA. To make the right choice, you should find a complementary color chart and use two or three-color combinations that generate a good response.
How to Choose the Best Color for Marketing Materials
There is no single answer to the question “what color makes people want to buy things?” so the response to these questions varies according to your specific circumstances. You need to evaluate your specific circumstances, figure out what action you want visitors to take, and identify the best hues based on your audience, product type, and industry. In the previous section we covered the 10 main colors you should employ to make people want to buy, but you also need to learn how to blend these hues into a harmonious way.
Furthermore, the specific colors you choose will vary depending on your brand, target audience, and your list of objectives. Start by analyzing the competition and creating a database of the different colors that companies in the same industry use. This will give you a general idea of the colors that your audience is used to, so you can evaluate if any of these tones will help make people want to buy your products.
For example, a company in the landscaping and outdoor home improvement industry can opt for a combination of green, blue, and a bit of orange or yellow. This might help create a soothing effect, give off an air of confidence, and also encourage visitors to trust your company and take action. You don’t have to choose more than three colors or go for complicated combinations. Instead, try to keep it simple, apply the concepts we’ve explored in this article, and find the specific combination that yields the best results for your company.
Employ Primary Colors
As you may remember from your early school days, primary colors are hues that are not created by mixing other tones together. The list of primary colors includes red, yellow, and blue, which can be mixed together to create hundreds of specific hues, all of which have a specific effect on your audience.
From a general perspective, primary colors help your company stand out and they can contribute to the creation of memorable branding. These colors can be used for your logo or throughout your entire website because they are easy to combine and work with a variety of different hues, plus they also have the ability to give your marketing materials a bright and elegant feel.
According to color research, primary colors tend to draw attention and incite action from the visitors to your website. These colors potentially work at a subconscious level and are associated with primal triggers, so products and promotional elements that employ these tones have a higher chance of attracting consumer interest.
But, keep in mind that these are the most popular colors in terms of branding, so you may want to choose a more original color if the market is already saturated with competitors that look the same.
Unite Tones with the Right Combination
Remember when you were a kid and your parents insisted on selecting outfits with matching colors? This was a prerequisite even during the days, regardless of what action you were taking next.
Although a lot of us would hate to admit it, this same concept can be applied to your website design. Choosing colors that work well together can bring harmony and make people think about positive things, which will lead your audience to associate your business with a good sensation. However, opting for a color combination that doesn’t work well together can have the contrary effect and discourage users from spending a lot of time on your site.
The best way to find the best color combinations is to make use of the color wheel we referenced earlier in this article. With this simple tool, you can find the right color combination for your website and ensure that your eye-catching design is also optimized for conversions.
If you want to find the best combination to prompt an action, you can choose colors that are located on opposite sides of the wheel, which are called complementary colors. Once you have selected the first color, simply draw a straight line and the opposite hue can be used to complement your initial choice.
You can also choose an analogous color scheme, which means that you’ll combine colors that are located next to each other on the wheel. Sure, you’ll need to be careful about contrast, but analogous colors are a great way to create an original appearance and associate similar hues in a single scheme.
Finally, triad colors follow a similar approach to complementary colors, but you need to choose two supporting tones instead of one. Rather than drawing a straight line from the main hue, you have to draw an equilateral triangle on the wheel in order to find the right blend of colors. One of the most popular is red, yellow, and blue, but there are hundreds of unique combinations you can test out that may make people want to buy.
Get the Context Right
When studying the specific colors that make consumers want to buy, you may feel like it’s possible to develop a one-size-fits-all solution. After all, you can conduct a few tests and see which colors increase conversions — but this doesn’t mean that the same can be applied in all scenarios.
Context is an important element, but it’s also one of the variables that can’t be quantified. Instead, each company or business needs to evaluate its specific context and make sure that the colors chosen align with the scenarios your audience finds itself in.
Ensure Consistency Throughout Your Branding
Having quality products is important for the long-term success of your business, but you should work on establishing a solid branding strategy to attract more attention to your company. However, to be effective, your company’s branding message also needs to be consistent and clear.
Whether it’s your website design, social network profiles, or local directories, you should make sure that the specific colors you use as part of your branding remain the same regardless of the platform being used.
Measure and Compare the Effects of Distinct Colors
We’ve mentioned it a few times and we’ll say it again: every business is unique, so you need to find the color combination that produces the right results. The best way to identify the colors that entice people to buy is to run a series of split tests and objectively analyze the performance of each hue.
There are various methods you can use to launch and monitor the variables you want to test for your business, but you might want to set up multiple tests to corroborate the results you get. Once you’ve tested out the initial set of variables, you might also want to design additional trials to figure out the best accent complementary colors as well.
Learn More About Choosing the Best Elements for Your Marketing Materials
The psychology of colors can help you build better promotional materials, but you also need to get familiarized with the different ways that hues affect our behavior. This will help you choose the best design and color scheme for your home page as well as other parts of your website design and throughout your entire promotional strategy.
If you want to learn more about the colors and hues that make consumers want to buy products, don’t hesitate to contact our team. Our online marketing experts have spent the best part of the last decade helping brands find the color schemes that help increase product sales as well as overall branding.
Looking to learn more about how color affects your audience? Contact Fannit today and our team of web design specialists will be glad to help.