Color psychology is a fascinating and complex topic. It’s influence on how we perceive the environment can be subtle or overpowering. Overall, blue is the most universally liked color. Red is the most persuasive, for better or worse. Having a display of orange or brown is least likely to help your brand succeed.
Whether it’s building a new website or a mobile app, color can have a big effect on your brand. Some of the top app makers allow you to build apps without being a coder or designer. This gives you the freedom to create your own designs, but you will need to know how to use these colors correctly.
Just switching from the wrong color scheme to the right one can have a dramatic effect. Your brand image matters nearly as much as the quality of your products and services. The color you choose to present that branding in is as influential as any other element. What colors you use can influence how a given color feels about your brand and whether or not they choose to do business with you. This guide will help you choose the right colors and steer you away from the wrong ones.
Red – Attention and Power
Need to make something immediately more appealing? Add something red. It may not be everyone’s favorite color, but it does produce a powerful psychological reaction. Red is the color of important things, and it has been since before the invention of the wheel.
The power of red has only been enhanced as it is now the universal color of items on sale, markdown prices, and countdown timers. This is also why making any giveaway or download buttons red is an accepted best practice. To negate the “discount” impression red might give off, you may want to pair it with a sharp image or shape.
White, as well as pastel tints, can be more than just a background color. It’s the color of justice, cleanliness, and new beginnings. It can even evoke slightly different feelings depending on its tint. “Warm” whites with undertones of red are suggested to have a comfortable feel, evoking feelings of trust. “Clean” or “Bright” white with blue undertones suggests a more formal or clinical tone.
White is used, to some extent, on nearly every web page or print design. How you use it, rather than whether you do, is the important part.
From “Millenial Pink” to pink awareness ribbons, pink is a powerful, attractive color. Typically it’s used by brands that appeal to women, even though color surveys show that women have no particular fondness for the color. In fact, as recently as 1927, there was no marked gender association with pink at all.
In any case, pink is still seen by many in the same way as red. In this way, it makes a strong accent color and an over-the-top primary color. It can be used to draw attention, though not quite as powerfully.
Bright shades may increase blood pressure while calming pastels may lower it. It adds a touch of fantasy and appeals the those that use shopping as an exercise in escapism or entertainment.
Blue is the most-liked color. In this instance, the kind of blue we’re referring to is on the ” Navy” side of the spectrum. This blue evokes feelings of trust and reliability. If you work in a field where these things are necessary, chances are you have seen a lot of this color. However, if you work in the restaurant industry, you will have seen very little of it. Why? Blue is unappetizing. When was the last time you ate something blue (that wasn’t artificially colored?)
When choosing colors, context is just as important as a color itself. Think of a few brands that use blue in their logo – Samsung, JetBlue, IBM – what if all those logos were changed to red? How would that make you feel about their brands? Chances are, you would feel a little less confident in them.
Blue is also a popular color on the internet. Think of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. These are all very powerful brands that people trust to use on a daily basis. When designing a website or trying to build an app, you should consider the trustworthy color blue.
Green is a color that leaves people with a positive, relaxed feeling. Overall it gives the impression of a brand with a friendly attitude. Darker shades lead to a more relaxed mood while brighter shades imply vibrancy and healthy energy. It’s a good secondary color and pairs well with white.
Be mindful not to use green too heavily. While it does appeal to conscientious shoppers, too much green can, as a primary theme color, dampen feelings of urgency.
Teal has staying power. It evokes images of new things like spring days and blue skies. It also gives off “classic” vibes in the form of Tiffany Blue and the most popular color of mid-century modern kitchen appliances.
Teal is an attractive color. It’s one of the few on this list that doesn’t show up on your fundamental color wheel because of that fact. It has a similar power to blue, evoking a trustworthy image, but in a fresh, less formal way.
Yellow – Intensity and Memory
Yellow is tricky. According to the APA, using it as a nursery or playroom color can increase moodiness in babies and young children, causing further outbursts. However, in marketing, yellow is noted as a happy color. A better way to put it would be that yellow is an “intense” color.
There’s a reason highlighters and no 2 pencils are yellow – it can stimulate the brain to remember more information. It follows that, as a highlight or accent color, yellow can do the same thing for your customers. It’s also important to note that too much yellow, or yellow used as a primary color, can lead to confusion and visual fatigue – it causes too much energy to be spent all at once.
Orange is the most conflicted color you will ever find. You can, however, use that to your advantage. Certain brands use orange to become outliers – to say in a strong way that they are different and worth a look. It’s a rebellious kind of color and challenges a customer to decide whether or not they identify with a given brand. In this way, it has been shown to be off-putting to grounded and traditional budget buyers but performs well with impulse shoppers.
Want your brand to stand out? Consider using more purple. It isn’t particularly stimulating or calming. Because of its unique vibrancy combined with neutral psychology, purple has long been associated with opulence, achievement and creativity.
Black is a color most often used to point out authority or intelligence. It’s a bold choice that lends itself to equally bold branding. It should be employed sparingly, too much black can overwhelm and cause eye strain.
When used sparingly, black can have a dramatic impact. It should, however, never be used as a highlight color – it simply won’t work. Black is an expected color, a strong one, but not visually stimulating. It can be used to establish a robust identity, but it doesn’t grab a viewer’s attention.
Though colors have the same general meanings across an array of cultures and regions, remember to take context into consideration. What does a particular color mean for other brands in your space? What does it imply in the region you’re from? Choosing a color scheme for a new business can be a daunting task. Making a change in an existing business is harder still.
If you do decide to switch from one color scheme to another, try to make the change gradual. An abrupt change with no warning can be disastrous. Consider what happened when Apple decided to change the popular iTunes logo from its original blue to a jarring shade of red. As the update hit, tens of thousands of desktop logos switched to red and many of those users thought something had gone wrong.
Red can be a great color, and a change of image may be necessary from time to time. If, however, you have an established image and a loyal user base, get their input before the change if you can. This can help keep your current and future customers happy even with widespread or drastic changes.
Andrew Gazdecki is the founder and CEO of Bizness Apps — making mobile apps affordable and simple for small businesses. We’re a do-it-yourself iPhone, iPad, Android & HTML5 app platform that allows any small business to simultaneously create, edit, and manage mobile apps without any programming knowledge needed. Think of us as “WordPress for mobile app creation.” Many of our customers are mobile app resellers — marketing or design agencies that use our platform to cost effectively build mobile apps for small business clients.