Have you ever wondered whether or not you are drawn to certain colors over others? Why your favourite sweater is red or why your curtains are cream and car is black?
Sure, free will might have something to do with it but color psychology is a tale as old as time and without even thinking about it, we associate colors with intangible feelings and emotions.You wear red to be bold and intense, you decorate in cream to create a feel of calm and tranquility and you drive a black car to give off a sense of luxury and style.
Marketers are constantly trying to tap into consumer behavior through human psychology and color is one way brands can manipulate the decision-maker. So how can you test what color will create the desired result for your startup?
Show Your True Colors: Crafting Brand Perception
As a startup you are working with a virtually blank canvas — just don’t paint yourself into a corner. Rebranding can be a difficult feat (read: The Gap fiasco) so choose your colors thoughtfully, you’ll likely be with them for a very long time.
Technology tends to lean on blue for it’s association with dependability and security. But if your technology is aimed at an environmental demographic, it might make more sense to go green.
If your startup wants to target young women, studies show that pinks and purple connect with females the best. Or at least it creates a familiar appeal common in society.
Rent the Runway is an ecommerce shop that allows women to rent high-end designer dresses for a short period of time. This screenshot of their Facebook page shows how they use touches of pink for femininity but without overdoing it and overshadowing the air of sophistication affiliated to their business.
An example of a pink branding fail? The London 2012 Olympic games where we were assaulted with pinks and purples every where we spectated. An article on Brand Channel called the logo a “hot pink mess.”
Defenders of the color choice said it would appeal to youth but instead it just stood out like a sore thumb. The prestige of the Olympics is not conveyed through this poorly picked hue. We would have voted for black…or Olympic gold.
Can Colors Convert?
The fact that a lot of our behavior can be tracked and analyzed through our digital footprints, has made marketers obsessed with data. The data that gets startups buzzing is conversion rates. In other words, are people who visit your website doing what you want them to. This can be something as simple as filling out a form to actually completing the checkout process (cha-ching!)
Discussion about the role of color in conversion rate optimization (CRO) continues with many experiments saying yes color matters but more so, context and contrast matters most. Therefore, it’s not green button vs. red button, but the color that stands out against the background and other images that will compel or attract the eye.
Another way we see how you might use color to your advantage can be seen on Basecamp’s pricing page.
The clean design makes everything easy to read and the copy is simple and straight to the point. That alone should influence an action. But we question the use of this calming yellow and the contrasts of red accents and a blue call-to-action.
Now we might be reading too much into these color choices but here’s our theory. You heard about Basecamp from your friends and hey, it’s “97 Customer Recommended.” But then you click “pricing” and you’re feeling a little tense.
We say the soft yellow is a perfect choice to handle customer anxiety. And the red accents? It’s a look-at-me color so you know exactly what you’re getting for what you’re paying.
Hyperlink-blue to get people onboard a 60-day free trial is genius. Blue, according to the emotion guide conveys trust and to us, that blue also appeals in it’s familiarity. We’re so use to clicking on blue links (especially when searching Google) that this color feels exceptionally non-threatening.
Then again, this could be us mistaking design preference over deliberate choices but we still high-five the Basecamp team for these happy accidents.
At the end of the day, color might still seem arbitrary to you and the least of your concerns over product/market fit, staffing, funding, creating content and whatever else is on your startup’s never-ending to do list. But we challenge you to be considerate of these seemingly small decisions that add up to help paint the complete picture of your brand and vision.
Are you using color psychology to guide your design and branding decisions? Have you tested colors for effects on conversion and seen any bizarre results? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
About the Author
This post was written by Kristina Allen, marketing consultant for AdEspresso, a Facebook ads management platform that allows marketers to create, test and optimize their Facebook ad campaigns. AdEspresso also includes easy campaign integration with Google Analytics!