Psychology of Color in Digital Marketing

The use of color in digital marketing has usually been subject to superficial analysis. Although it is one of the most intriguing elements of content creation, people rarely spend more than a few minutes discussing color possibilities.

There are all sorts of color-related misconceptions linked to cultural beliefs, personal experience, and the influence of mass media. Okay, we all know that red is supposed to be the color of love and passion, but it can also suggest malice and anger. But even that doesn’t mean red must inspire specific sets of emotions in all cases.

On the contrary, it takes a whole synergy of circumstances to evoke some emotion in the content consumer. We believe that there is only one way to solve the confusion and this is to make a thorough analysis of colors, their psychology, and meaning in online marketing.

Colors and Branding

Colors play a significant role in branding, and this is the part where most of the ‘expert’ explanations simplify things too much and eventually miss the point. You can find hundreds of same-looking images, articles, and infographics that are trying to minimize and narrow down the meaning of colors.

Of course, a serious marketer cannot interpret one of the primary branding elements so simply. Colors have all sorts of meanings which mostly depend on highly individual personal preferences. Instead of looking for the general connotation of each color individually, you should be searching for common patterns that influence the perception of your target consumers.

According to a recent study, color is a huge branding factor as a signature color can increase brand recognition by 80% - just like Coca-Cola red or Facebook blue. Another research claims that people make first assessments of other people, products, and things in the first 90 seconds, and up to 90% of the assessment is based on color alone.

Most buyers also believe that brand color reveals the true nature of its products or services. For this reason, more than 30% of the world’s top 100 brands use blue in their logo. The logic is clear – blue suggests credibility and trustworthiness, which is what an average customer needs.

But how can you make sure to choose the appropriate color for branding? We asked Anthony Fulbright, a psychologist at BestEssays, to help us with this issue: “Here is your answer: don’t choose colors before you analyze your buyer’s persona. The color is not the one that should influence customers out of nothing. It doesn’t have a precise meaning per se. On the contrary, your buyers are the ones who should assign a specific meaning to the brand color you pick.”
According to Stanford’s Jennifer Aaker, five basic dimensions constitute brand personality:

  • Sincerity: It mirrors honesty, fairness, cheerful, and down-to-earth feelings.
  • Excitement: Such personality is daring, trendy, cool, young, and unique.
  • Competence: This dimension reveals hard work, reliability, security, intelligence, and leadership.
  • Sophistication: Sophisticated brands are charming, classy, smooth, feminine, and good-looking.
  • Ruggedness: An opposite of sophistication ruggedness personality is tough, western, masculine, and outdoor.

A brand can sometimes combine two of these styles, but it usually highlights one dimension only. As we already mentioned, some colors do relate to specific personalities in a more general way (for example, blue can reflect competence) but not a single academic research proved the direct correlation to date.

Therefore, it is much more important to develop the brand personality regardless of the color and then choose the option that can suit your style the most. White can present purity and innocence in one situation but also emptiness and emotional desolation in some other cases.

The point is that there are no predetermined solutions. You will have to consider all other aspects of the brand design before deciding which colors suits it the most.

Gender Colorization

You’ve probably noticed by now that ladies and gentlemen nurture different color preferences. Joe Hallock made the Color Assignment analysis to present the differences and similarities between men and women. The chart reflects color impressions in Western cultures, revealing the dominance of blue and the imbalance of purple.

Studies found that men prefer strong and bold colors, while women enjoy gentler colors. However, Britannica once again suggests that the real inspiration for color preferences is hard to determine both in the case of women and men. That’s because people build aesthetic and emotional affinities based on various influences, including dominant fashion styles, art, or even commerce.

Brands pay a lot of attention to the connection between genders and branding. This is not such a big deal, and companies could break gender-inspired color stereotypes. It takes nothing more than creative thinking to come up with a color choice that can fit the style and preferences of both genders.

Color Contrast and Combination

Most brands rely on more than one color in their branding strategies. In such cases, it is critical to choose the right combination and allow colors to produce the best results with the sheer power of the mix. The Isolation Effect is one of the most productive mechanisms in that regard as it enables brands and parts of the digital content to stand out from the crowd.

Namely, the theory predicts that when multiple similar objects are present, the one that differs from the rest is most likely to be remembered. It seems like people think that an object looks much more attractive when it is surrounded by objects with contrasting qualities. Digital marketers use this tactic to emphasize the call to action buttons, which makes a significant effect.

This means you should try to combine analogous and complementary colors from the color spectrum. It will allow you to highlight the essential elements of the content, increasing brand awareness and the number of leads or conversions. But this is not all - there are still a few things left to say about color combinations.

If you are running an eCommerce website or a blog, you must have a lot of CTA buttons all around. In this case, you can exploit background colorization to put in front page elements that bring you the profit. The basic color scheme in that regard consists of 3 colors:

  • White: Most marketers use the white surface online. It is clear but not too intense to hurt the reader’s eyes.
  • Black: A vast majority of textual content is black because it gives a perfect contrast to the white color.
  • Red: You use red (and probably a bigger font size, too) to emphasize conclusions, new products, CTA buttons, or any other feature that you consider unique at the given moment.

For example, scientists and marketers conducted several studies to compare red and green CTA buttons. It turned out that red signs outdo green solutions in most cases. However, we strongly suggest you reconsider all aspects of the webpage design and choose the color which fits the overall context of the brand. This way, you will find the model that gives you good results regarding conversions but also resonates with your target audience.

Same Color + Different Name = Higher Sales

You’ve probably figured out by now that color psychology is a very tricky business. But there is more than that. Did you know that companies use different names for the same colors to increase sales? It seems like color-naming influences decision-making, which suggests that fancy names result in significantly more favorable ratings than do generic names.

Let’s say that you want to sell green purses online. According to this research, the odds of selling more pieces would be much higher in case you call them ‘emerald’ or ‘viridescent’ than simple ‘green.’ While preparing their products for branding, some marketers even explore the dictionary of colors and try to come up with a name that will generate the biggest interest among consumers.

Color Psychology


We started this article with one idea in mind – to help you understand color psychology beyond the standard and too simplified theories you can find anywhere on the web. Perhaps we even made you raise an eyebrow a few times, but we are sure that now you have a clearer picture of this phenomenon.

To cut a long story short, there is no universal and straightforward solution when it comes to the use of colors in digital marketing. You have to be patient and analyze each element of brand design to figure out the combination that makes your products stand out from the crowd. By using the suggestions we showed you here, you will come up with something good!

Read Also

How Color Can Draw Attention to Your Website

How To Apply Marketing Psychology To Web Design

Digging into Duotone: How to Create & Use Colorized Images in Web Design

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The Psychology Behind a Perfectly Crafted Landing Page

Warren Fowler

I am a professional at writing about presentations, digital design and different tricks that could help you to boost your creativity.

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