When persuading a potential customer to invest their time and resources into your brand, you don’t aim for their wallet, nor their reasoning. What you aim for is eliciting an emotional response. This can be accomplished in a number of different ways, such as using words, images, sounds or combining them all into a heart-warming video.
But there’s one medium that appeals to our emotions more than anything else and that is color. Nothing does a better job at creating a positive user experience.
That said, color psychology is arguably one of the most disagreed upon subject in the world of marketing and brand positioning, in particular. The reason behind this is quite simple actually and that is because color preferences vary from person to person. But color impacts everyone, regardless of our preferences. In fact, we use colors to elicit certain moods and specific responses all the time. Which begs the question, how can you use color to position your brand in the minds of potential customers?
Color psychology refers to the study of colors and hues as a determining factor in human behavior. But there is a lot of misconception about color theory, especially around branding, marketing, and web design, so let’s get one very important thing out of the way.
There is NO single best color you can use to position your brand. Period.
There aren’t any best color couples you can use either. Each positioning campaign is different and as such, might require completely different colors than the ones before them. Every color and color combination needs to be A/B tested on a target audience, including pure colors, accent color, backgrounds color, etc. This applies to logos, products, packages, websites, CTAs and everything you can think of in between.
Branding and color
Branding is a practice of developing a unique business identity that customers can relate and cognitively equate to. Granted, a successful brand is more than just its logo and color scheme, but colors play a major role as brand builders. Let’s take Coca Cola and McDonald’s as examples. Both brands feature the color red prominently, but we can all still differentiate between them even if we don’t see the design elements. That’s because they both have rather distinct color combinations which are set in the minds of their customers.
Consider how you want to position your brand.
You got the idea in your head? Good, now identify all your direct competitors and see if you can get an understanding of how they positioned their brand. This exercise in brand identity will help you recognize what is it that makes your brand unique. You can use that newfound knowledge to develop your own distinct, value-based proposition and figure out your target audience.
Finding a suitable color
Considering brands have personalities of their own and customers invest in brands that match their personalities, it becomes that much more important that you define your brand as precisely as you can.
- What’s your brand voice?
- Is it masculine or feminine?
- Is your brand tone serious or playful?
- Is your brand classic or modern, affordable or luxurious?
- Does your brand cater to younger or more mature audiences?
These are some of the questions that not only help define your brand accurately but also help you define your target audience and their preferences.
Colors and their meanings
Each color in the color wheel has its own symbolism and significance. Red is inherently intense and signifies excitement, passion, and urgency. It increases heart rate and blood pressure and stimulates appetite, which is why we often see it being used by fast-food chains and ristorantes. Blue, on the other hand, produces the opposite effect. It curbs the appetite, but stimulates productivity and increases trust.
Green is a calming, natural color, which is why it’s used by Starbucks and for almost every environmental cause.
Yellow and orange are linked with brightness and optimism, but can also trigger anxiety and caution.
Purple is the color of royalty, wisdom and tends to be associated with problem-solving.
White emanates purity while black signifies authority, stability, and strength. Yet when used together, black and white are excellent for grabbing people’s attention.
Some colors are preferred by men more than women and vice versa. Setting aside the old “blue for boys and pink for girls” divide in our society, there are studies which show that women seem to prefer softer colors, while men prefer bolder ones.
Additionally, men also appear to prefer shades while women favor tints, so make sure take these differences into consideration when choosing the primary color for your brand.
Colors also play a large role in your brand’s online presence. Finding the best color or color combination for your website and CTA’s has been up for debate for a long, long time. But there have no concrete confirmations that one color is better than the other in regards to conversion rates. What is, however, is not a color, but rather the isolation of said color from its immediate surroundings. Essentially, people are more likely to take notice and remember things that stand out, regardless of their color.
Having that in mind, you can experiment with different color combinations for different design elements, as long as you do it in conjunction with your primary color. As for the choice of color, that is completely up to you, your specific vision for your brand and the audience it caters to.
Harris Norman is a 35-year-old web developer, born and raised in San Francisco Bay Area. Harris is also very passionate about spending time in nature, which is why he spends all of his free time hiking, sailing and mountain climbing. His design skills are admirable, which is why he’s got a special place among the writers of designrush.com. When he’s not running around chasing adventure, he likes to play the trombone, though not very well.
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