Why is Facebook blue? (*find out at the bottom of the post…)
Colour is a fabulous thing. It can inspire, encourage and grab attention.
Or, it can tire the eye, swallow a message and create entirely the wrong impression.
With something so powerful, it is important that when it comes to your brand, content, blog, website design and all manner of marketing materials, the colour or colours you use are spot on.
Colour is the visual cue that makes your audience see what you want them to see; it evokes a feeling (have you been to panto this year? Have you ever noticed when the baddie comes on, the lights change the red…? “Or no it doesn’t!”, “Oh, yes it does!”)
Colour also makes something more readable (that says readable) and it can change your message. Get it wrong and your call to action can disappear without a trace and in the blink of an eye.
But colour is a sticky wicket when it comes to design and getting your message seen. Like many other aspects of life, how we view or interpret the emotional value of a colour varies from person to person. In other words, it makes the reaction of the larger audience to your chosen colour schemes difficult to predict.
So why bother? Colour gives not only a visual appeal, making things look pretty, it also attracts your target audience. How males and females view certain colour combination varies and so, if you know your audience and who you appeal to, then you can make your brand more visually appealing.
There are some generalised understandings of what certain colours mean to some people and which colour provoke a positive or negative response.
There are various surveys that look at what people associated with certain colours and so if you are looking to update your website, modernise your logo and revolutionise your brand you may want to bear the following in mind…
- Trust – if this the main emotion you want inspire in potential customers, then opt for blue (a third of the people surveyed said this was the main colour of trust), followed by white and then green
- Security – as in is this company or brand trustworthy rather than a security firm, a quarter of those surveyed once again, opted for blue as the colour most linked to this emotion.
- Speed – a whopping 76% of people said red was the colour that highlighted speed (know a famous parcel carrier, with red on yellow…)
- Value for money – a quarter of those surveyed opted for orange as being the colour that represented value for money, follow by yellow (a close run thing between these two colours) and then brown
- High quality – black was the overwhelming winner, with nearly half those asked opting for this colour
- High tech – black was the top choice again, but then there was a tie between blue and grey, but there was a small % difference only between these colours
- Reliability – blue came out on top again
- Courage – a third of people opted for purple, with slightly less opting for red and then blue
- Fear – red stormed into first place, followed by black interestingly enough…
- Fun – orange came out top with just under a third surveyed opting for this as the main colour representing fun, followed very closely by yellow and then purple
And so it seems that blue is the preferred colour in many cases, representing all kinds of emotions. The lesson from this? The colour surrounding your content can make a real difference!
And now we head into the thorny issue of men and women seeing or being influenced differently by colour – but, before you think we mean everything should be pink and blue, this is not what the psychology of colour is all about. There are some interesting lessons for those of us working within the field of web design and the like…
- Blue is a coloured favoured by both men and women, although men seem to like it better
- Men don’t like brown too much, apparently and women not liking orange too much
- Interestingly, colours that we don’t like, we tend to think of as ‘cheap’
- Men are more tolerant of achromatic colours – this means, literally, without colour which basically means grey or black…
- Overall, both men and women preferred cool colours
- And, as people get older, they dislike yellow and orange…
According to a variety of scientific study, women ‘see’ more colours than men in that they note subtle colour changes, tones and shades than men to. To men, it is either pink or red, with women, they will see a variance in shade so it could be baby pink or fuchsia.
But, what lessons does this information hold for you?
Hopefully, at this stage in the game, you have a fair idea of who your customers are. If you are selling to the older generation, you need to perhaps limit the use of golden yellows and orange but, if your main customer group is female, be aware that they are more aware of shades and tones of colours. And, if you heading for the top end of the luxury market, choosing understated, classic and elegant colours rather than raucous, ‘cheap’ ones will tell your story better.
But there is a bigger lesson to learn that just choosing the colour combination that attracts your customer group – people make a judgement on the content of a website within 90 seconds.
Time that now…
(90 seconds later)
…and see how quick people will decide if they will buy from you… or not. Within that 90 seconds is a small proportion that customers will take notice of colour. Is the ‘buy now’ box standing out (take a trawl round the website and note how many buy now buttons emulate PayPal colours – blue on yellow)? Research also shows that 85% of customers will take more notice for a colour advert that a black, white and grey one.
Colour is the visual aid that help customers identify your brand too so choose carefully and wisely – and stick with the colour scheme.
The answer: Mark Zuckerberg is red-green colour blind and he finds blue the richest colour he can see. Facebook has stayed with the blue colour since its early conception…