Many people who talk about branding or website design say that you should use certain colors and stay away from others based on your audience. For example, red turns women off but attracts action from men, while both sexes like blue, but it’s so common that to make your stuff stand out you need to supplement it with more distinctive colors.
But this is a simplistic view of color in design. A more accurate view sees that colors are about context, which is about audience but also about who you are and what you want your audience to do.
For example, studies may show that women react well to pink. But if you’re running a funeral home then pink would be tacky, so stay away from it even if you want to connect with women.
Want a simple guideline on using color in websites or email blasts? Check out the 60-30-10 rules from Jared Christopherson of Yellowhammer. In “10 Tips for Company Color Schemes” he writes that you should “choose three different colors and use them in the ratio of 60%, 30% and 10%. This rule provides a simple way to create a professional color scheme for your brand.” Christopherson continues:
Once you have the 60-30-10 rule in place (background, base and accent colors), use the accent color (the 10% and typically, your boldest color) to guide customers to take a particular action. Use it in your call to action button, or on the link, tab, form you’d like customers to click next. But remember, using a bold button 10 times on the same page of your website or email defeats the purpose of “standing out.” You’ve now created ten competing actions. Don’t create too much competition. Decide what your most desired action is, and use your accent colors to accentuate that action. Is your entire website blue and grey? Make your accent color and “Sign up now” button red or purple.
So, the better part of valor in online branding may be the discretion to use certain colors sparingly but to still use them.
Because even women will click on a red button as long as it’s the only red thing on a page.
See this useful article from Vertical Response, “The Psychology of Color and Marketing — What Actually Works?” for more good advice.
— Erik Curren, Curren Media Group