Why Colour Is Important To Attract Sales-1
May 16, 2019 | Posted by Joe Accurso

Why colour is so important to attract customers and increase sales

When you first set out to create that amazing website or killer brochure design, you'll probably be wondering which colours you should incorporate into the design process. It's a tough decision.

 
For years marketers have been fascinated by colour psychology. So much so, that colour psychology has transformed from a soft science into a research-backed goliath of marketing. But, there's also a wealth of misinformation when it comes to colour psychology. As marketers, we're obsessed with science and statistics. They give relevance and show significance that's testable and repeatable, which means that science can help guide us to make smarter decisions and generate better results.
 
Today, we're going to strip colour down to its core. What colours should you use? When should you use them? How will they make your customers feel?
 

What is Colour Psychology?

Humans are visual creatures. In fact, 90% of all information transferred to the brain is visual, and those visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. Our brain is wired to recognise, interpret, and garner meaning from colour. To back that up, research shows that customers make a firm judgment on a product within 90 seconds — and up to 90% of that judgment is based solely on colour.
 
Colour psychology is the area of research involving the role that colours play on influencing customers judgments and decisions as well as the role that colour plays in human emotions.
While the role of colour psychology often goes deep into human relations, we're going to focus strictly on the role of colour psychology in marketing. Or, how can we use colour to help convert, brand, and build relationships?
 

Why is Colour Important in Marketing?

When we say that humans are visual creatures, we're being generous. 92.6% of customers say that visuals are the #1 most important aspect of their purchase decision. But, that's visuals as a whole, right? What about just colour alone? 84.7% of customers say that colour is the primary reason that they purchase a product!The idea that you can influence over 80% of your customer base using colours alone may sound crazy. But, it's true. HubSpot changed the colour on one CTA button from green to red and saw a 21% increase in performance. They didn't include new text, images, or anything else. They simply changed a colour.
 
That's powerful. But, it doesn't end there. Let's look at two other CTA examples.
 
  • Unbounce had a 14.5% increase in conversions by changing a green CTA to yellow-and-black.
  • VegasSlotsOnline.com saw a 175% increase in conversions when they simply changed their sign up button. In fact, they changed the text, button size, position, and more, and none of their changes showed anywhere near the results that a simple colour change did.

How Colours Drive Conversions

Let's look at the colour wheel and see how each colour impacts customer behaviour. The colour wheel can be broken down into three sections — warm, cool, and neutral. These are used to describe both the appearance of the colour as well as their impact on moods and emotions.
 
But, before we jump into the juicy stuff, let's talk about some caveats.
 
First, it's important to understand that research shows that predicting what colours your customers expect your brand to have is more important than the individual colours themselves. In other words, Holden probably wouldn't go over so well if its logo was pink. People expect speed and prestige when they're shopping for cars, and pink doesn't have a cultural association with "speed." But, remember, colours aren't universal. They are cultural. So, one colour may not mean the same thing to two different people.
 
This means that your goal is to use colours in combination with your buyer's persona. 
 
Now, on to the good stuff.
 
 

The Warm Tones (Red + Yellow + Orange)

 
The warm colour group is typically associated with energy, action, passion, excitement, enthusiasm, and happiness. These are the colors that you typically see overperforming on CTAs.
 

Red

Red is the colour of urgency. Sales, promotions, and important reminders all work well with red. Coca-Cola, Levis, Monopoly, Target, and even NASA all share red logos. Why? For starters, the colour red has been shown to increase heart rates. Often called the colour of "passion" red can get people excited and ready to consume. Here's the problem with the colour red. It also carries negative emotions like anger and frustration.
 
This edge can often work in favor of those using it. Let's look at fast food restaurants — a significant portion use the colour red in their logo and branding. McDonalds, Burger King, Sonic, Wendys, KFC, etc. all lean on the colour red. Why? Well, red sparks a sense of urgency and alertness. Fast food restaurants don't want you to come in and sit down. They want you to get your food and leave as-soon-as-possible so that they can serve other customers. It's a dynamic part of their overall profitability.
 
Let's take McDonalds as an example of a company that knows how to use the colour red. In their fast food joints, red-and-yellow (both warm) are plastered everywhere. The walls, the sign, even the drive-through menu are drenched in red. But, when you go to their website, it's completely different. Red is only used in the logo while black, blue, green, and dark grays are used as a predominant part of their nav menus.
 
Why? Because McDonalds wants you to stay on their website. But, they don't want you to stay in their restaurant. While this works for McDonalds, you should always be wary of using red outside of food. Remember, it gives your customers a sense of urgency. Do you have any hospitals near you that use red as their wall colour? Probably not. What about an apartment complex? We're guessing no. Here are some things to note about the colour red.
 
  • Red actually intensifies the experience of pain. If your business is in the medical industry, you may want to steer clear.
  • Red acts as a warning sign in nature. It can alert animals of danger or poison.
  • Red signals testosterone-driven dominance, which makes it perfect for sports brands.
  • Some research shows that red may increase appetite.

How to use red to convert?

Try using red as an action statement. Leverage the colour red on your CTAs or any button that leads down your pipeline. When it comes to logos and websites, red works well for speedy brands or brands that rely heavily on the emotions of anger (think punk rock outfits) or romance (think flowers or candies). Red also works well when you introduce it early in a brochure as a way to draw action.
 
When to avoid red? Don't use red if you're in the medical industry (unless you're running a blood drive).
 

Yellow

Yellow is the attention grabber. Put it in a window display, on a billboard, or on oudoor signage.
 
Did you know that yellow is the most visible colour in the spectrum? In fact, the human brain notices yellow before any other colour. Typically, yellow is associated with cheerfulness and joy. After all, the sun itself appears yellow. But, yellow also acts as a sign of warning across many cultures. This duality makes yellow a particularly interesting marketing tool.
 
Let's get this out-of-the-way. Don't go overboard with yellow. Since yellow is so bright and visible, it actually strains our optical nerves when we view it. Rooms that are solid yellow will act as an irritant rather than a joy.
 
Here's the trick to yellow — it has three widely used business applications.
  1. Speed: In many cultures, yellow is associated with movement. Brands like Ferrari and Sprint both use it to signify the speed of their services/products. Of course, McDonalds also uses yellow. But, again, they want you in-and-out.
  2. Attention: Since yellow plays with our optic nerves first, it's a great choice for brands that want to stand out in a crowd. JB HiFi, NIKON and IKEA all use yellow to signify entertainment and happiness.
  3. Work: Finally, yellow can also push people to work more. Brands like Bic and Post-It use yellow to play on mental alertness and work enthusiasm.
Here are some things to note about the colour yellow.
 
  • It's been used in research to help relieve symptoms of depression.
  • Yellow is universally associated with sunshine and happiness. And, almost every known culture associates yellow with light.

How to use yellow to convert?

Since yellow is so striking, it works well as an attention grabber. Plug a yellow CTA on your social campaigns, use yellow links in a brochure, or use yellow on critical components of your websites UI to help push users to engageAs a branding tool, yellow is hyper-effective with brands that promote speed, happiness or want to appeal to younger children. 
 

"Give any child a box of crayons and they reach for the yellow crayon," - Leatrice Eiseman, Colour Specialist, the Pantone Colour Institute

When to avoid yellow? 

Don't go overboard with yellow. It's an eye irritant, and the last thing you want is to irritate your customers. 
 

Orange

Orange is the colour of action. Use it to tell customers to buy or subscribe. It's the perfect CTA colour.
 
Whether you're looking to add a dash of playfulness, humor, or enthusiasm to your brand, orange is the perfect colour. One of the main benefits of using orange as a branding mechanism is that it doesn't have many negative associations. In fact, orange is used across a wide variety of industries. From Amazon to Jetstar and Harley Davidson, orange encompasses a wide range of brands.
 
Part of this is due to orange's attention-grabbing capabilities. Most of these are cultural. Traffic cones, construction sites, and warning signs all come splashed in a bit of orange, so it's only natural that orange grabs our attention.
 
Here are some things to note about the colour orange.
 
  • The younger you are, the more likely you are to like the colour orange. In fact, in the 25 - 70 range orange is the single most disliked colour.
  • Women generally dislike orange more than men.
  • Unbounce claims that orange has the highest conversion rates of any CTA colour. In fact, they've dubbed it the Big Orange Button.

How to use orange to convert?

Since orange can grab attention and doesn't have any significant negative connotations, it's a great colour to use sporadically throughout your marketing materials. Just be warned, overuse of orange can look tacky. Most successful brands pair orange with another colour. Harley Davidson pairs it with black, and Fanta pairs it with blue.
 

When to avoid orange?

Orange is one of the least loved colours in the world. So, make sure that you use it effectively if your branding with it. Too much orange or orange in the wrong industry can be damaging. 
 
 

Cool Colours (Green + Blue + Purple)

 
If you're looking for calm, relaxing colours, blue, green, and purple are the go-to. These cool colours have a wide range of applications, and they are by far the most common colours in corporate logos.
 

Green

Green is the colour of nature. Use it to promote eco-centricity. Health, nature, and money is what green is all about. In fact, green is an incredibly powerful branding tool. But, be warned. It's also the least "action-driven" colour on this list. It usually performs subpar when it comes to driving conversions or CTAs. But, appropriate use of green as a branding tool is hyper-effective.
 
Land Rover, Energy Australia, Starbucks, and Holiday Inn all utilize green to spark specific emotions. Since green is universally associated with nature (i.e., leaves, grass, etc.), it makes the perfect companion colour for businesses looking to promote themselves as environmental or "green." Since green is one of the cool colours, it's also great for calming or relaxing situations like hotel chains or wellness products.
 
The versatility of green shouldn't be understated. But, green is much more effective as a branding tool than it is as a conversion colour.
Here are some things to note about the colour green.
 
  • 99% of people that are colourblind have red-green colour blindness. This may have an impact on greens conversion capabilities.
  • The relationship between the colour green and nature is ongoing. Some researchers have discovered some incredible effects of the colour green as it relates to mood and stress. In specific, the colour green alone can reduce anxiety and stress levels.

How to use green to convert?

Green is an amazing branding tool. It can effectively brand a variety of services/products. In today's ecosystem, green can be used to signify environmental consciousness. This can help you win over the eco-conscious consumers — especially the Millenial crowd. Green is also great in packaging as it's noticeable, but not overly striking.
 

When to avoid green?

Since green is calming, avoid using it on CTAs or any other action-provoking piece of your marketing strategy. Green doesn't shove people in the funnel; it gently lowers them into it.
 

Blue

Blue is the colour of business. It builds trust, and shows calmness.
 
People love the colour blue. In fact, blue is the worlds "most likable" colour. That's not surprising when you think about how much blue is on earth (after all, the sky and water appear blue). But, blue isn't just pretty, it's also "pretty" amazing. Did you know that research conducted on mice show that the colour blue alone can stimulate their neurons as if the sun had just risen?
 
Blue makes us productive. In fact, workers are more productive in rooms that are painted blue as opposed to white, red, or yellow. So, when it comes to marketing with the colour blue, the possibilities are endless. In fact, the majority of Fortune 500 companies have a blue logo — making the "go to" colour of business.
 
Are you looking to brand your business as calming, productive, and sound-of-mind? Choose blue! Do you want to draw people into your latest article and have them stay longer? Choose blue!
 
Here are some things to note about the colour blue.
 
  • While red colours raise blood pressure, studies show that blue lowers blood pressure.
  • Tokyo installed blue lights at the subway to reduce risks of suicide. The results? A 74% decrease in suicide rates! Blue is a calming colour.
  • Blue isn't as masculine as you think. In fact, blue used to represent baby girls instead of boys before the 1940s. Both men and women prefer blue.

How to use blue to convert? 

Blue is hyper-effective as a branding tool and as a website element. Blue gets people to stick around longer and relax.
 

When to avoid blue? 

Blue isn't a great CTA tool. The colour isn't action-oriented or remarkably noticeable.
 

Purple 

Purple is the colour of wealth. Use it to sell premium solutions or products.
 
Ah, purple – the colour of luxury. Due to the price of creating purple ink (back when that mattered) purple has been associated with luxury for hundreds of years. As a marketing tool, purple is tricky. Less than 5% of all Fortune 500 companies use purple as part of their brand identity. And, the companies that do are almost always luxury brands.
 
This means that purple is one of the most niched colours out of any on this list. It's also important to note that unlike yellow, purple is the last colour that our optic nerves recognize, making it the least "striking" colour on this list.
 
Here are some things to note about the colour purple.
 
  • This is unrelated to marketing. But, did you know that earth used to be purple? Neat!
  • Purple is among the least liked and least dislike colours.

How to use purple to convert?

Is your brand associated with luxury or expense? Purple may be the right fit for you. Academic institutions have also been using the colour purple for years. We recommend the colour purple as a branding element for companies that fit the niche. Remember, you want to be using colours in line with your buyer's persona. If you're in the U.S., UK, AU, or NZ, purple has a heavy association with luxury.
 

When to avoid purple? 

Purple isn't an effective attention-grabber. It's subtle, and our eyes recognise it as the last colour on the colour spectrum.
 
 

Neutral Colours (White + Black)

 
Now, let's look at the neutral colours. These are all going to be grouped together since they are unique, yet similar, in their marketing prowess.
 
 

White + Black

White and black are the complimentary colours. Use them to make your other colours stand out. When it comes to colours that fit in almost anywhere, the neutral colours take the cake. There's an interesting dichotomy between black and white. Sure, white is associated with cleanliness, purity, brides, and innocence while black is associated with elegance, fashion, and power. But, both black and white are complimentary colours to every single colour listed above.
 
It's important to be careful with the colours white and black. In some cultures, white is associated with purity, while in others (China for example) white is a sad colour. In contrast, black is associated with happiness in sole cultures and sadness in other cultures.
 
This makes both of these incredibly nuanced when it comes to branding specifically with black or white. But, using black or white in combination with other colours is a great way to break up branding elements.
 
Here are some things to note about the colours black and white.
 
  • Black and white can really make your brand's logo or visual elements pop when they're used in combination with other colours.
  • Black and white can both make customers focus more on your product when combined with colours.
  • Both black and white are poor choices when it comes to sparking emotional connections.

How to use black and white to convert? 

Black and white are both great when combined with other colours. They can be used to outline products or make colours pop more. Brochures, flyers, and other printed materials typically use plenty of black and white to make content clear and concise.
When to avoid black and white?
 
Remember, both black and white have different connotations in different cultures. These two colours are typically heavily associated with feelings, so be careful when using them to do a complete branding.
 
 

Final Thoughts

The relationships between your brand and colour runs deep. Beyond the logo, colour can play an impactful role in converting, creating emotional connections, and pushing your customers to form deep relationships with your brand. Each colour can invoked different feels and emotions, and the science that drives each colour (neurological and otherwise) can help you when you're deciding which colour to use in your branding.
 
If you're looking for a business brochure expert that intimately understands the roles that colours can play in marketing, contact us
Joe Accurso
Joe Accurso

Driven by creativity and numbers, Joe has a unique ability to provide creative services that not only look good but also achieve sales growth for clients. Partnering with business owners and Marketing Managers for the last 27 years’, Joe has been on a quest to test, measure and learn to create constant and never-ending improvement.