Of all the things you need to concern yourself with as a business owner, paying attention to color is most likely the last item on your list. But color can have an impact on your bottom line.
Jill Morton, a color psychologist, lists a plethora of studies on the importance of color for business success. For example, 85 percent of consumers list color as the primary reason why they buy, or don't buy, a particular item. In addition, people read color advertisements 42 percent more often than they do similar ads printed in black and white. Color also increases brand recognition by 80 percent. For business success, color matters indeed.
So how can you use the psychology of colors to give you an edge in your business? Here are a few thoughts:
Choose the Right Website Color
What color should your website be? Jeremy Smith, a digital marketing and conversion optimization consultant, has a lot to say about using the right color palette for your website. In "How to Use the Psychology of Color to Increase Website Conversions," Smith recommends adhering to some key principles, such as choosing the right color for the right audience. For example, if your target audience is female, you might be better off avoiding earth tones. Visit any e-commerce site that targets a female audience, Smith says, and you'll see proof of this finding.
Pay Attention to the Color of Your "Add to Cart" Button
The "Add to Cart" button is an important feature to prompt visitors to buy your products or services. There are divergent opinions on which color converts best. Some claim red is the optimal color for that purpose; others recommend green as the best color.
HubSpot, an inbound marketing software platform, once ran a test and discovered that 21 percent more people clicked on the red button than the green button. But it's not wise to generalize those results. As the company states, those results worked for a specific page design, for a specific site and for the specific audience that viewed it at the time. The wisest move is to experiment with red and green and see what kind of results you get for your own site before you make a permanent change.
Volusion, an e-commerce platform, also weighed in on the topic. In "How to Build a Better Add to Cart Button," it states that what's important isn't the color but the visual contrast. So design your button to stand out from your site's background and color scheme. For example, if you use a lot of blue on your site, an orange button, or some other contrasting color, will have a better chance of prompting more clicks. Whichever way you go, don't leave the color of your "Add to Cart" button to chance. Test various designs and colors, and see what happens.
Paint Your Walls Blue
There are, of course, many factors that influence our decisions to buy. But studies reveal that the visual factor has a strong influence, and the visual factor with the biggest impact is perhaps color.
Blue seems to be a favored color for a variety of situations. One study at Virginia Tech, for example, found that blue was more influential in getting consumers to buy in a retail setting. Another study at the University of British Columbia found that blue is best at boosting our ability to think creatively. Surveys have also shown that a larger proportion of people associate the color blue with the concept of trust.
If you want to get your team to think outside the box, get shoppers to spend more or portray an image of trust, you might want to give blue some serious consideration.
Match the Right Color to Your Brand
"Design is the silent ambassador of your brand," said the late art director and graphic designer Paul Rand. Your logo is an important part of your company design—it's an integral part of your identity that communicates a message about you. When you select a logo design, make sure your choice of color matches the message you want to communicate.
In "Psychology Of Color In Logo Design," brand strategist Simon McArdle provides a Color Emotion Guide that lists the subconscious reactions we have to colors. While there are no hard-and-fast rules, it helps to know a little about the science of colors. This knowledge can guide you to make the right color choice for your business.
Say It With Color
Studies have shown that using color in your business documents can have measurable, beneficial results. For example, color printing of handout materials increases readership up to 40 percent. Color also enhances learning by up to 78 percent, and most important, it increases comprehension by 73 percent.
Other studies have shown that using color to highlight "amount owing" and "due date" on invoices adds a sense of urgency—it translates into 30 percent more clients paying bills faster. Color can also boost participation in customer satisfaction surveys by as much as 80 percent. In addition, using color on envelopes boosts the odds that 55 percent more people will read your sales and marketing mailings. Color sells!
Color Your Presentations Correctly
Paying attention to the colors you use for your PowerPoint presentations is also important. For example, instead of using all black or all white text, use some color to emphasize important information or a key message. Additionally, pay attention to the background color of your slides. Garr Reynolds, author of Presentation Zen, recommends using a dark background with white letters when presenting in a dark room, such as a large conference hall. But use a white background with black or dark text if you're presenting with most of the lights on. This allows the slides to overcome the ambient light and maintain their visual intensity.
Keep Color Blindness in Mind
Statistics show that approximately 8 percent of men experience red/green color blindness and that 0.5 percent of women are affected. If you're relying on red and green colors to contrast information you're presenting, you might want to choose different colors instead. (If you're curious about your own ability to differentiate colors, take the free online Color Blindness Test provided by Amazon.)
There's a wealth of color resources available to help you in your quest to use color to your advantage. Here are a few:
- Web Color Trends will help you discover what the new hot hue in Web design is.
- "The Most Powerful Colors in the World" will show you the colors used by the top 100 Web brands.
- Adobe Kuler can help you choose the right color schemes.
The psychology of color is a controversial topic. Some people feel that colors affect everyone the same way. Others believe that responses to color vary depending on gender, age, culture and other variables. One thing's for sure: Our responses to color are not neutral.
So be mindful of the psychology of colors, whether you're selecting a color for your store walls, your packaging or your sales material. You have a kaleidoscope of colors available to you. Choose with care: It just may give you a business advantage.
Bruna Martinuzzi is the founder of Clarion Enterprises Ltd. and the author of two books: Presenting with Credibility: Practical Tools and Techniques for Effective Presentations and The Leader as a Mensch: Become the Kind of Person Others Want to Follow.
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