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Why your choice of colour is crucial to driving conversions

Your choice of colour for your logo and on your website can make a huge difference to the way your target audience perceives your brand. To illustrate just how powerful your choice of colour can be, a study called ‘The Impact of Colour in Marketing’ in 2006 found that 90% of snap judgements about products were made on the basis of colour alone. In some cases, the right colour choice can boost conversion rates by as much as 20%. And although a certain amount of generic colour theory can help, there are a surprising couple of factors that will determine whether your final choice of colour is a winner for your target audience or not. The key is to adjust your broad choices to take these factors into account. Here’s an Oxygen guide to choosing the right colours for your brand.

“90% of snap judgements about products are made on the basis of colour alone.”

Colour choice in broad strokes

First a bit of general colour theory. In most western countries, certain colours have well known connotations.

• red – anger, hunger, passion, energy, sensuality, danger, speed

• black – sophistication, mystery, grief, elegance

• white – purity, innocence, sterility, cleanliness, youth, mildness

• purple – royalty, dignity, spirituality, ambition, independence, creativity, imagination

• green – coolness, freshness, abundance, nature, greed, harmony, health

• pink – femininity, romance, softness, sweetness, nurture

• yellow – cheerfulness, sickness, happiness, warmth, childishness

• orange – vulgarity, playfulness, vibrance, boldness, enthusiasm

• blue – reliability, balance, coolness, trustworthiness, seriousness

• brown – homeliness, comfort, warmth

• gold – prestigious, expensive

• silver – prestigious, cold, scientific

But while this holds true in general terms, you can run into problems in specific markets. For instance, yellow is the colour of jealousy in France and the colour of sadness in Greece. And white is the colour of death in China, and considered suitable for widows in India. So if you’re hoping to attract custom in a very different market, do take the time to research the psychology of colour choices in that particular culture.

How to make the right choice of colour for your brand

Which emotions do you want your target market to feel when they look at your brand? These form the first guidelines towards picking your final brand colours. Stanford professor Jennifer Aaker has found five core dimensions at the heart of brand personality. These are:

• sincerity – domestic, honest, genuine, helpful

• excitement – daring, spirited, imaginative, up-to-date

• competence – reliable, responsible, dependable, efficient

• sophistication – glamorous, charming, romantic

• ruggedness – tough, strong, outdoorsy.

While a brand can straddle two traits, each will most commonly fall into just one. Although making your choice of colour from your brand’s general traits can be useful, it’s more important to make your colour choice one that represents the actual personality of your brand more specifically. Target audiences react better to a choice of colour that’s seen to be authentic to the personality of the brand. And it’s been found that differentiating your logo by means of colour from that of your competitors (provided it’s still an authentic choice) helps you stand out from the crowd. This is known as the ‘isolation effect’.

Choice of colour and the gender bias

While gender-based colour bias is probably learned rather than innate, it’s an important factor to consider. Only a tiny percentage of men list purple as their favourite colour but it remains very popular with women. That’s why there are no purple electric shavers for men. On the other hand, blue is very popular with both genders. Men like stronger colours, tending to prefer shades (that is colours with black added) while women prefer tints (colours with white added). Gender-based colour bias and colour choice is something it’s very easy to see when you look at the colours of products aimed specifically at men and women, such as razors for instance.

Choice of colour and conversions

So although general connotations for your industry are important, it’s actually more important to consider authenticity, the isolation effect and the gender bias when considering the right choice of colour for your brand. The isolation effect also comes into play when designing your website. It’s been found that using a strongly contrasting colour on the ‘buy now’ button will generate as much as 20% more clicks, so it’s very important to bear this in mind when considering the colour palate for your website.

And finally, does ‘rose’ by any another name smell as sweet?

Surprisingly, in the minds of your customers, no… ‘Pink’ doesn’t get as good a response as ‘rose’. Customers don’t like brown as much as they like ‘chocolate’ or ‘coffee’. And they like ‘sky blue’ far better than light blue. Even when it’s the same colour. When naming product colours on your website or in your brochure, remember that your target audience wants the experience of the colour to be described even more than the colour itself. This holds true for paint, right through to clothing.

Are you still wondering how to choose the right colour for your brand personality? Give our award-winning designers a call today on 0845 2606 255.


Steve Lodge :Steve trained as a NCTJ journalist and is an experienced copywriter. He has over 15 years in agency, and started Oxygen in 2002.