The Psychology of Color in Marketing

Keywords: color, colour, color scheme, internet marketing, website design, graphic design, color psychology, SEO, multimedia, marketing, meaning of colors

Summary: Color is an important factor in successful web site design. When color is used correctly, it can send a number of messages to your reader. Meanings are attached to colors in the same way meanings are attached to words : our reaction to colors is almost instantaneous and has a profound impact on the choices we make everyday. Color are very subjective and can have different meanings to different cultures. The background color of a website, the color of a header, the color of a text and headlines can all have a psychological impact on visitors. When color is used correctly, it can add impact and clarity to your message and highlight important points.

I briefly touched on this subject in a previous ebook titled «The Forgotten Fundamentals of SEO» and I have been asked by a few people to expand and explain more about the psychology of color and how it affects your website from a marketing perspective.

The internet is the ultimate visual and psychological medium. It provides businesses with an unparalleled avenue to reach potential customers. In this visually engrossing world it is the copy, or words, on your website that have the greatest psychological impact on visitors and given this they become your most important communication and sales tool.

Another important psychological aspect of your website is the often over looked and definitely misunderstood marketing strategy of colors. The same as we use words and phrases to describe and express our intentions color can be used to convey similar messages in more subtle and concealed ways. As an example of a color being used to convey a feeling, when I was at University they painted the walls in the library a light pastel-pink color to try and enhance the studying environment.

Did it work? I really don’t know, I was in the computer lab, but I am guessing that subliminally there was probably some impact whether it be physically measurable or not.

In the past choosing color schemes for websites used to be left up to the programmer who was responsible for just getting something up and running. Often there was no forethought or planning for real graphic design or image perception. “A simple site, nothing fancy”. I am fairly certain that every web developer has been asked for something like this, I know I have. If you really want to succeed in 2007+ then this kind of website will just not work.

Given the competitive nature of the Internet market, there has been a steady influx of Internet marketing professionals who are looking to stamp their mark on the ever increasingly competitive keyword monopoly game. Every day there businesses employ Internet marketing agencies to employ their expert marketing strategies to their business. Often these are for huge fees. One area that I see getting missed during these expensive website makeovers is the psychology of color. I believe it is important to address this marketing issue in design and ensure it the colors chosen are enhancing and supporting the overall theme and feel of the website in an effort to get the website visitor to perform the action we actually want them to do on our website; be it contact us on email, buy a product or feel comfortable browsing our articles and reading the news.

So what colors should we be incorporating into our website designs to ensure we convey the right message to our visitors? I have detailed a list of colors and their associated feelings and keywords so you can get an idea or what to put on your webpages. In Western Cultures, the following colors are associated with certain qualities or emotions:

  • Red : love, sex, passion, danger, warning, excitement, food, impulse, action, adventure.
  • Blue (listed as the most popular color): trustworthiness, success, seriousness, calmness, power, reliability.
  • Green : money, nature, animals, health, healing, life, harmony.
  • Orange : comfort, creativity, celebration, fun, youth, reliability, affordability.
  • Purple : royalty, justice, ambiguity, uncertainty, luxury, fantasy, dreams.
  • White : innocence, purity, cleanliness, simplicity.
  • Yellow : curiosity, playfulness, cheerfulness, amusement.
  • Pink : softness, sweetness, innocence, youthfulness, tenderness.
  • Brown : earth, nature, tribal, primitive, simplicity.
  • Grey : neutrality, indifference, reserved.
  • Black : seriousness, darkness, mystery, secrecy,sophistication.
  • Silver : prestige, cold, scientific.

When choosing colors for your site it is important to employ contrasting or sympathetic and complementary color schemes. It is important to identify your market and ensure the psychological message you are trying to get across with the rest of your site design, words and images is complemented and enhanced by the appropriate color scheme. Often it can be wise to run samples of the same site with slightly differing colour schemes past a test audience and see which has the best impact or you can even run differing coloured sites to visitors and track conversions to your goals. Its really up to you how to try and test or track the impact of your psychological color message on your Internet Marketing.

Author: C. Diprose

Additional resources :
Website Tips : Colors
Color Psychology Quiz
Concept of color approached from several disciplines
Color Trends More Crayons (colors for web designers)