I thought I would write a little color psychology post today. This may be terminology many of you are not familiar with, but it is in fact an increasingly strong marketing tool. I have had a small bit of training here, as it was relevant in my past life. =-) I have been known to make frequent references to colors and prime page real estate… These are in my estimation areas of huge behavior marketing advantage. So today we will investigate some color psychology and some quaint cultural differences to help you design your pages and stores to perform better.
What is color psychology? Very simply, certain colors invoke certain emotional and physical responses with shoppers due to culture and environment. For example, it is very effective to use bright green in your checkout buttons as it naturally says “Go” to the majority of the Western world.
In my former life I was a restaurant manager for many, many years. It’s no accident that food menus and brochures are generally styled in warm shades, while beverage menus cools shades and blues. They simply market better that way by creating the proper physical and emotional responses. Cooler shades make us think of those cool drinks and cooling ourselves off, while warmer shades lend to hot food and warm bellies. We will cover the emotional and physical responses for the normal American culture… This is a generalization of American’s common responses to different colors.
- Grey – Can signify neutrality, humility, and respect, but be careful if your market includes older adults as this can bring thoughts and feelings of death, depression, and old age. I think personally that grey is best as a secondary or ancillary color and not a main color part in your design.
- White – Is a clean color invoking feelings of pureness, spiritually and security. White is a very good non-color to use for an American audience. White has a deep association with mourning in some eastern parts of the world..
- Black – Is your power color, it will send the message of elegance and prowess very loudly. Be very cautious not to overdo the “blackness” and appear to be sporting your arrogance. Black is also best used as a secondary color in your site design.
- Blue – Blue is a very steadfast and dependable color to use, it brings about emotions like harmony, tranquility and has an overall calming effect on Americans. This is a great main color scheme base for your design. However, I found is that in Iran, blue is the color of mourning.
- Red – Can actually make a person’s respirations and blood pressure rise according to some studies. It floods us with very strong emotions related to love, sex, passion and ambition. Depending on your store’s theme this can be a powerful effect.
- Pink – Has by far the best overall calming response and is thought to be the truest color of love, relationships and femininity. Again however, depending on your shop’s venue pink might just be the color for you.
- Green – Makes people think of life and living things, nature, youth and money. Green tends to signify an “action” response in Americans… Use green to get shoppers to “do” something. However, green also a color of disgrace in China, but in some western countries such as Great Britain and Ireland it is notably lucky color. Overall green is a very pleasing color and the darker the shade the more conservative the emotional response. Green is a great color for your overall store design.
- Purple – Is a color of deep spirituality, sensuality, creativity, wealth and prosperity. Purple can add a certain hint of mystery and is best used in small parts of your design scheme. The darker the purple the lesser the emotional response. It is also the color of mourning in Thailand.
- Yellow – Makes people think bright sun shining days and optimism, but can also bring about occasional thoughts of cowardice and weakness. Interesting studies have found that babies cry more in yellow rooms. Yellow has other physical responses as well, it speeds your metabolism up and helps bring creativity and creative thoughts. Yellow would best better served as a less prominent color in your web site design. The more golden or deeper the shade the better the response. Accessibility not: Yellow is the brightest and hardest color for human eyes to focus on.
- Brown – Is stable, dependable, and earthy. Brown makes people think of reliability and friendship. Brown is thought to be natural or organic in its essence. Brown is the color of mourning in India. Shades of beige are specifically very neutral and safe, thus making Beige a great prominent color for your ecommerce store.
- Orange – Brings about intense feelings of energy, balance and enthusiasm. I personally love the color orange and I wear it and use it very often. Orange has a mixture of the best elements of yellow and red emotional responses. The powerful excitement of red with less intensity and a very small hint of the calming effect of yellow… Without putting anyone to sleep. However, I would recommend orange as a secondary color in your web site design.
The next time you redesign or begin to lay out a new store… Research some colors for your specific market. You might just find that the right color combination will have people will staying on site longer and converting better. Below are some great resources for color psychology and emotional color responses for your review.
- Wiki on Color Psychology and Symbolism – They have a nice breakdown, and a great deal of cultural information.
- Colors for Marketing – Some nice market tips here for research and cultural information.
- Psychology in Color Marketing – Commerce tips for color scheming and more.
- The power of color in direct marketing – Added 9/14/2008 Nice piece on color marketing and natural association.