Psychology of Color

One concept that has always attracted me to marketing is how deeply rooted the field is to psychology.

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Marketing is, of course, tapping into the psychology of what makes a person trust a brand.

One of the most controversial and researched topics about marketing is the psychology is color. Color psychology looks at how colors affect human behavior.

How color affects people is not universal. People with different uprgingings, cultures, tastes will react differently to certain colors. However, for the most part, people to typically follow patterns of behavior during the purchasing process.


Understanding how color elicits certain responses, you can use that know-how to increase your conversion rates.

1. Predicting Behavior

Color and how it affects buying decisions is not a concrete theory. With that said, do not plan on using color to trick or deceive people into buying your products. Doing so may work every now and again (maybe), but it will not create a sustainable long lasting business.

Your use of color for your products and brand should be used to establish a certain feel that relates to your company’s mission. For conversion purposes, color can only be used as a predictor of how a customer will respond.

Using color to capture or create an emotion will allow you to tailor certain messages, copy, and ads to your consumer.

One study found that a customer makes a decision about a product in under 90 seconds. With more than half to his interaction being determined on the basis of the product’s color.

2. Conveying an overall message

For branding purposes, color plays a huge role, as mentioned prior. One study on brains showed that our brains prefer recognizable brands. In turn, this makes color an important factor for a company hoping to establish a household brand.

When you think of McDonalds, you think of the yellow and with John Deere, you think of the color green. Sticking to a color for your brand images is vital for creating brand awareness.

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Imagine the confusion of the customer if McDonald’s changed their arches to brown! Somehow the simple change in color would  most likely cause even the food to taste “off” for many customers.

In addition, the item you choose to sell or promote should fit within your overall marketing plan.

For example, Apple’s message to its consumers is that the products they create are simplistic and well-designed.

The colors that Apple has used for their site not only enhance the value of perceived by their site, but enhance the products value as well.

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In another example, uses

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The site uses the perfect colors for blending the product, benefits and call to action “Yes, subscribe me to the newsletter!”

Based off this chart, we can collect an idea about what both Apple and Muscle for Life are trying to accomplish. With Apple, their use of black and white is to capture simplicity and sell a luxury product.

As for Muscle for Life, the brand’s use of red, orange and green is to create a sense of urgency. Their hope is to have you sign up for their newsletter. From there, the site will most likely try to persuade you to purchase their products through email marketing strategies.

Here’s a full look at how each color triggers a certain emotion.

In all, the images you choose to use should always match the overall marketing message and colors. Apple uses luxury products to match its luxury colored website design. Muscle for Life uses images of fit people and colors that are intended to invoke aggressive compulsive buying.

3. The best colors to use? 

Sadly, there is no such thing as the best color for certain campaigns. As noted before, color can only help predict behavior; not guarantee it.

The site, uses green boxes with white lettering to attract you to sign up for their service.

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This doesn’t mean that this color combination is the color to use to convert people. In a study conducted by Performable, the results illustrated that a red call to action box outperformed a green call to action button by 21%.

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What works for one site may not work for another. This is why testing various colors and combinations is so important.

Although color is affected by the current mood of the person, it’s still important for marketers to know that colors do affect conversion rates.

One research study found that simply using a call-to-action that is contrasting in color from the rest of the website design has a higher conversion rate.

4. Persuasion through color

Even if we don’t like to admit it, colors play a huge role in our life. They affect our energy levels, our appetite, who we find attractive and more.

Michael Campbell noted in his book, Color Psychology: The Science of Using Colors to Persuade and Influence purchasing Decisions, can have a wildly impactful affect on emotions.

A product’s package greatly influences a consumer’s buying decision. This is one reason why companies spend so much effort researching various color schemes.

Another form of using colors for persuasion is during the holidays. Taking advantage of this will allow your customers to associate your product with the holiday. See how Hershey’s created a holiday feel with their images and color scheme below.

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Colors do not have to be visually aesthetic to increase conversion rates. In fact, one article states that colors that are antipathetic can garner more attention than aesthetically correct items.

The basic idea is knowing that color does affect emotions. The best way to elicit certain emotions from your customer is to test and experiment with different colors.

5. Call to action buttons

Typically, the highest-converting call to action buttons are those that use bright colors (red, green, orange, yellow, etc.). This is compared with darker colors like black or brown. The reason being is that brighter colors typically are easier to blend with your overall website design. In addition, these colors tend to stand out better than very dark colors.

Why is color so important for conversion rates? One European store increased their sales by 35% by changing their call to action button from blue to green. This means that a simple color change can make the difference of catching a customer’s eye or having them bouncing from your site.

Consider the fence website below. This fencing website, like 70% of companies, does not have a clear call to action. In fact, there is no call to action at all. Through colors, we could only predict that a light colored email signup box or a call now button would help this small business convert more leads. At the moment, however, their phone number and address do not stick out. Color would help this issue.

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As for positioning for your website’s colors, you need to have a grasp on the F-shaped pattern. The F-shaped pattern is how your visitors will typically scan your website. Choosing dark and light colors in the right location will affect your conversion rate.

The photos you use and their eye placement are also vital for your overall color scheme. Consider the image below:

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This heat map shows that people will follow the eyes in ad copy.

My goal with providing this information is to help demonstrate how colors affect the purchasing decision. The goal with using color is to A/B test. According to one article, nearly half of marketers find that A/B testing is the best overall way to increasing conversion rates.

With that said, how have certain color schemes affected your conversion rates and buying behavior?


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