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How Color Gets Personal

Color has a deep and often subconscious effect on our behaviorAs a result, how you use color in your business can affect the success or failure of your business.

We can thank Newton for discovering that color is the sensation of light bouncing off something and entering our eyes. 

For example, the color red isn’t actually in the strawberry itself. The surface of the strawberry absorbs all of the light except for the wavelengths we perceive as red. These bounce off of the fruit and into our eyes.

The brain interprets signals from receptors located at the back of our eyes as color. Because the brain is interpreting the color, that means that color is, by nature, a sensation. Sensations are personal.

The Qualities of Color

While our perception of colors and what they mean is subjective, there are some basic qualities that we can apply generally. 

  • Red. Exciting, attention-grabbing, warm, and connected to love, anger, life, and comfort.
  • Yellow. Adventurous, evoking happiness, enthusiasm, youth, and travel.
  • Green. Money, balance, health, sustainability, and knowledge.
  • Blue. Honesty, high quality, competence, trust, reliability, and integrity.
  • Pink. Love, compassion, romance, gentleness, and sophistication.
  • Purple. Creativity, royalty, mystery, respect, and playfulness.
  • Brown. Outdoors, friendly, organic, natural, friendly, and rugged.
  • Black. Sophistication, intelligence, seriousness, and expense.
  • White. Order, innocence, purity, cleanliness, neutrality, and space.
  • Grey. Timelessness, neutrality, refinement, of the moment, and practicality.

Picking The Right Colors

Businesses should not leave the choice of color to chance. A powerful brand starts with a professionally designed logo. Color plays an important role in logo design, as we discussed recently in our look at current logo trends.

In fact,research shows that anticipating your customer’s reaction to a color and its relationship to your brand is more important than the actual color itself. Customers want to see that a color “fits.”

For example, the color pink probably doesn’t fit with a brand like Ford or Harley Davidson, and black would be perceived as wrong for Fisher-Price or an organic health food store.

It’s less important what color you choose, and more that you choose colors that highlight or accentuate the personality you want your brand and product to reflect.

For example, research on the use of color in retail fashion stores shows that customers are more likely to return and make purchases in a store that uses a blue color scheme versus orange.

Case Studies

Here are two real-world case studies that illustrate how changes in color impact customer behavior.

Case Study 1: Red vs. green

Interested in using the power of red to improve conversions, one marketing automation company tested the difference in performance of a red call-to-action button versus a green one. The red button showed a 21% increase in conversion.

Conduct your own tests to see what works for your business and your specific audience.

Case Study 2: Apple

Apple was on the verge of bankruptcy when Steve Jobs came back and turned it into a business school case study success. By releasing the iMac in multiple colors, Apple differentiated from the boring, bland, beige look of its competitors. This trend continued in the products Apple created after the iMac (iPhone, iPad, the Apple watch, and more).

Be more intentional with how you choose colors for your business. Don’t be boring.

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