Colour is key to branding, it is one of the first decisions that a company takes when designing its logo and consequently building its identity. Their online presence will tend to reflect to this colour scheme for obvious reasons but is it time to give far greater importance to colours? Do they say much more than we realise and could we potentially be losing out on business because we are using the wrong ones?
Look around the internet and what do you realise? The colour blue is absolutely everywhere. The world’s biggest digital companies have chosen it as their colour of choice and it has become key to their branding and online presence. Facebook, Skype, PayPal, Twitter… all blue. Look down at the desktop icons on your laptop right now, blue will be the most common colour.
Perhaps it is not surprising that it is so dominant, research shows that it is the world’s favourite colour due to its calming influence and also that it has always been a favourite amongst creatives from Picasso’s Blue Period that shook up the art world to Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue album that redefined modern music. To this day, the obsession with the colour continues and so it is no surprise that it has found its way so strongly onto our online experience.
Despite its cultural significance, the colour blue is also extremely useful to designers as it holds some key advantages. Many other colours already have built in connotations. If the colour is found on a traffic light, it is likely that we already have been conditioned to associate it with certain commands. This is the advantage of blue, it is neutral in nature and therefore is perfect to make central to a website´s design, therefore leaving space for other colours to be used in your calls to action.
One of its other key advantages is that it is one of the few colours that can be seen clearly by colourblind people which affects 1/12 men in the world, including Mark Zuckerberg which is why it is claimed that Facebook is blue.
It comes as no surprise that green is principally associated with two main themes, nature and growth. From Tropicana to Whole Foods, any company that wants to present a brand image of being in touch with the environment will mostly opt for this colour.
Of course the fact that it is is also the colour of the world’s most famous currency has meant that it is also strongly associated with money and prosperity. You only have to look at companies such as Bankia and eToro to realise the strong link there.
Green has always been a favourite of designers when it comes to making calls to action (CTA). It is of course logical to think that a colour that is associated with the the word “go” would be the most obvious choice for encouraging a user to engage with certain material. This was put in doubt when Hubspot conducted a comparison between green and red CTAs on their website which resulted in 21% more clicks for the latter option. Of course it is important to find out which colour inspires your target audience the best rather than accepting the results as a universal truth.
Red is associated with a wide range of things from power and danger to love. It is this flexibility that has made it the colour of choice for a wider range of companies, especially those aiming to connect with a younger audience such as Netflix, Coca Cola and Youtube. It is a warm colour that is associated with speed (perhaps most iconically as the colour of Ferrari) and has therefore often been adopted by companies that are looking to emphasis fast delivery such as JustEat or news site like CNN and the BBC.
Red is perhaps the colour that stands out most to us. Like the old expression goes, we fixate on it like “a red rag to a bull”. It is for this reason that it is one of the most common CTA button colours online and why it seems to be immensely popular in those annoying popup adverts that seem impossible to close without triggering an unwanted wave of new windows and tabs.
Black and White
They aren’t technically colours, they are shades. Black and white has always been the choice of more esteemed newspapers and publications such as The New York Times and Vogue. It is for this reason that this colour scheme is associated with reliability and knowledge despite what Donald Trump might have to say about the “fake news media”. There is no stronger sign of this connotation working online than the fact the world’s go to source of information (Wikipedia) has maintained a minimalist black and white look through its entire existence.
If ever there was a timeless look, monochrome is it.
Colour is something that is unique to each business and as Hubspot points out, the results of what is the most successful colour scheme for your site will vary greatly depending on the audience you have and the type of goods or services you are offering.
The important thing to remember is to constantly experiment with shades and style to determine what offers the best results. It is often an area that is overlooked, perhaps because many people undermine the effect that it can have on the psychology of a potential customer.
Google famously tested different shades of blue on their ad links to find out which was most likely to appeal to the public. The results of their investigation resulted in a colour choice that added an extra $200m a year to the business. Data driven analysis is key, the most basic changes can yield huge benefits to a business.