Imagine you go to a local café and order hot chocolate. The barista serves it to you in a white cup.
Chances are you won’t like your drink. That’s not an indication of the quality of the café or hot chocolate, but rather the color of the cup.
This conclusion is based on a study by the Polytechnic University of Valencia and the University of Oxford. The universities served hot chocolate in white, cream, red and orange cups. The drinks were identical, but volunteers claimed the flavor was better when the drink was served in an orange or cream-colored cup.
You might not think much about it, but we experience the world through colors. Every day we respond to the colors around us.
Imagine landing on a website filled with blue, orange and pink. It would be difficult to focus on the page, and you’d likely leave right away. Alternatively, visit a beautifully designed website like Apple.com—with white, silver and gray highlighted by beautiful, crisp photos—and you’ll enjoy spending time there.
When prospects arrive at your website, see your display ad or click through to your landing page, they make decisions within seconds. Color combinations influence their reactions and behavior. Therefore, it’s critical to carefully select the colors in your marketing materials.
Your branding dictates prospects’ expectations of your company, and helps them decide whether to do business with you.
According to the University of Loyola in Maryland, color increases brand recognition by a whopping 80 percent. Pick the right color for your business and you’ll maximize your revenue potential.
For example, in the West and particularly in the United States:
- Blue is associated with strength, trustworthiness and loyalty. IBM, Lowe’s, American Express and Hewlett-Packard use blue logos and color schemes.
- Orange is associated with fun, excitement, action, warmth and passion. Nickelodeon, Amazon, Fanta Soda and Firefox focus on orange.
- Red stands for energy and power. It’s youthful and bold. Check out the red logos and color schemes of Coca-Cola, Virgin, Target and Netflix.
- Green is the color of wealth, and many financial services firms, including Fidelity, H&R Block and TD Ameritrade, embrace it. It’s also the color of nature—think Animal Planet, Greenpeace and Whole Foods—and can represent natural strength. Think Starbucks, Tropicana and Monster Energy.
- Yellow conveys happiness, optimism and friendliness while grabbing attention. Among the logos that use yellow are those of McDonald’s, Hertz, Nikon, Best Buy and IKEA.
- Pink is stereotypically seen as romantic and feminine, representing love and warmth. Pink logos include PINK by Victoria’s Secret, Baskin Robbins and Barbie.
Consider—and, if necessary, rethink—your identity, brand and values, and select colors to convey those attributes. With a color palette that evokes your brand’s DNA, your marketing will achieve greater success.
2. Websites and landing pages
Your website and landing pages are perfect places to communicate your branding—and influence prospects’ behaviors—via color. Websites and landing pages are highly visual and have sufficient real estate to incorporate effective color combinations and high-impact visuals.
Use color to help visitors immediately connect with your site and company. According to CCICOLOR, people make subconscious judgments about a person, environment or product within 90 seconds. Up to 90 percent of that assessment is based on color alone!
Color is instrumental in driving site and landing-page visitors to specific actions. According to Color Marketing Group, a remarkable 85 percent of shoppers cite color as a primary reason behind their product purchase decisions.
Test the colors on your page repeatedly. This doesn’t mean you should change your brand’s look and feel. Instead, test different colors within the framework of your brand identity.
For example, test different call-to-action button colors. But be careful with your conclusions.
A software company tested green and red call-to-action buttons, and found that the red button outperformed the green button by 21 percent. However, the predominant color on the page was green. Therefore, the right conclusion is most likely that a contrasting color would beat a non-contrasting color. Red doesn’t necessarily convert better than green; it’s possible that another contrasting color may have outperformed the red buttons. Test thoroughly.
Color plays an important role in advertising. Depending on the campaign you’re planning, consider using colors beyond your company’s core color palette.
If you’re running a campaign focused on a social mission, use colors associated with that cause (pink for breast cancer charities) to increase audience recognition. If you’re running an ad tied to a national holiday, consider the colors associated with the holiday (orange and black for Halloween). Admittedly, it’s a balancing act as you contemplate the emotions that each color typically evokes.
Advertising is a great opportunity to test colors in photography, illustrations, fonts and calls to action. Your ad’s color scheme should be well-coordinated with the associated landing page, though. Otherwise you risk a disconnected user experience and abandonment of your page.
Remember that online display advertising is different from your website or landing page. Display ads will compete with many other elements on the page that are out of your control. If you’re advertising directly with a publisher, discuss color combinations that will work effectively on the publisher’s page, and create mockups to ensure your ad stands out.
If you’re conducting online display advertising using a demand-side platform (DSP), remember that the vast majority of sites use a white background with black text. Therefore, avoid using a lot of white space in your ad, or risk getting lost on the page. If you must use a white background, encase it in an outline. Otherwise your ads may blend in with the rest of the page or, worse, be mistakenly seen as part of the adjacent ad.
Color is powerful. It evokes emotional responses, which helps customers and prospects make associations with particular brands. In fact, color helps people remember brands longer and decide what to buy.
Rethink your company’s use of color in your marketing, and experience a colorful display of increased conversions.