Understanding & Using Color in Branding
Posted: 16 May 2011 10:50 AM PDT
How are you feeling right now? What are you thinking? Are you suddenly excited and passionate, yearning for adventure? Or did a Zen-like calmness just pervade your being? Maybe your mind is on money. Or, if not that, you’re considering your health and how you can live in harmony with the natural world. On the contrary, you say? You were simply entertaining thoughts of fun, youth, and celebration, but now, for some strange reason, are more focused on fantasies of royalty and luxury? Fantasies that are quickly dispelled by new thoughts of an earthy, tribal simplicity? So just what’s going on here?! And why am I suddenly feeling so curious and amused, but annoyed by eye-strain?!
Effects of Color on the Mind
Let us fade back to black for its capacity to imbue some seriousness to a hue. What the above examples represent are the psychology of color and the well-established fact that, while there is definitely an element of subjectivity here, most of us associate certain emotions with certain shades in ways that can be measured and manipulated. It’s not a new insight.
In fact, using colors to alter our psychological and physical states is an old practice – a very old practice. Both ancient Egypt and China employed chromotherapy, a treatment in which the patient was placed in a brightly colored room depending upon the “doctor’s” diagnosis.
Got a patient who needs better circulation? Put her in the red room. Got someone who needs to purify his body? He’ll go in the yellow room, thank you. Got a guy that needs to heal his lungs and increase his energy levels? To the orange room with him, please. (Chromotherapy sounds primitive to us 21st century types, but, personally, I’d take it over leeches and a mercury-laced tincture any day.)
The Role of Color in Web Design
Not surprisingly, the psychological effects of color play a big role in web design, and the color scheme you choose can also have an effect on the hosting plan you choose. After all, a user’s first impression of a website is almost always a visual one. And, whether fair or not, a user will often judge a site not by the content of its characters but by the colors of its screens. Therefore, with a gazillion and one other websites that a visitor could be viewing instead, getting the color scheme right – and keeping that viewer’s interest – is crucial.
This is particularly true for online retailers who, unlike their brick-and-mortar counterparts, cannot stimulate their customers’ senses across the spectrum by having soothing music coming from unseen speakers, soft fabrics hanging from closely packed racks, and a cutie hawking perfume behind the makeup counter. Instead, an online retailer has two main ways to set the mood for his or her virtual store: the words and the colors.
As for the former, keep them short and simple and, for the love of God, use spell check. As for the latter, particularly for those who don’t know their warm colors from their cool ones, there are some very helpful sites on the web ready to come to the aid of the color-scheme challenged.
Tips For Using Color on Your Site
The key is to remember that, while we rightfully strive to be a color-blind society in the real world, color still very much counts in the virtual one. So, with that said, here are some helpful tips.
The first and most important – other than never using red and green together at any time other than Christmas – is to remember the needs of your target audience. If, say, you’re a medical supply retailer selling devices for fecal management in colostomy patients – and I happen to know someone who really is, by the way – then you don’t want a website with lots of light and dark browns, despite their overtones of tribal earthiness. (The retailer’s website is a very sober and professional-looking light grey and blue background with a dark green font.)
The two main rules of thumb are connotations and common sense. For example, if an online retailer wants to sell sailboats, try a white and light blue background with a deep, sea blue font. If you want to sell herbs from your organic garden, try a dawn’s-early-light-peach for a background and dark green for a font. Along the borders, you could splash some bright purples, yellows and oranges to represent the many marigolds you plant to keep those pesky aphids away.
If someone wishes to advertise his or her no nonsense business, say an accountant for example, then business suit blue and grey on the borders with black text over a white background could be used. It’s visually boring, yes, but black on white is also the easiest to read and is a scheme that has a no-funny-business sincerity.
As for common sense – apart from not using lots of browns if you’re selling colostomy supplies – make sure to avoid color schemes that will cause eye-strain. For example, try reading this. It’s not fun, is it?
A website that uses hard-to-read color combinations will not only look like it was designed by your ten-year-old, but will drive away potential customers concerned about their vision. If you’re an online retailer, here’s a little mnemonic for you: If it’s hard to read, your patrons will flee.
In conclusion, a successful online retailer not only offers a good product at a competitive price, sending it out quickly to a satisfied customer, but the successful online retailer also has something of an artist’s eye, an awareness of humans’ conditioning to colors and the power of hues to affect our moods and, by extension, what we buy.
Well, it’s been a while since we’ve posted any content to the Blog, and this is due to a very good problem to have: we are bursting-at-the-seams busy. So much that we have added two more designers to our team.
We must be doing something right to be expanding in an ecomomy that is this flat. But, the new hires do add even more inturruptions to the normally scheduled chaos. So how do we cope?
Depending on skill level, we assign the easier content updates to them to get them more versed in our working style. And then when I run out of work that is appropriate, I will have them investigate/critique websites and write up a quick analysis of what is lacking in both areas of design and in the way the site is marketed.
This method of homework is valuable to designers that are moving into the web world to help ensure that they not only design in our style of sites, but also that they think about the message behind the site in a similar manner. Designing is half about the thinking that goes into the design.
If your designer is not thinking about how the audience is going to interpret the message then in some respects they are not really designing, they are just layout artists. Both can be usefull, but for our design managers to be able to see the light of day we need our design staff to be self sufficient with this side of the job as well.
More to come…
I know, I know, good sales copy on a website, this is un-heard of. People don’t read on the Internet, they are simply looking for the next bug-eyed groundhog – right?
This is a common misconception, the fact is that people are looking for whatever it is you are offering. They want to find you quickly, be assured that you do what you say and that you do it well. The difference is that people “read” very differently when they are at a computer or mobile device. You typically have a matter of seconds to get your message across rather than the slightly longer attention span you get if your customer is reading a brochure. All the more reason to invest time in crafting your message into a concise 4 points that you need to get Mr. Customer to understand before clicking on the next search result.
These are the 4 principals that Michael Masterson supports for any sales copy, but they become especially important for standing out among the crowd of competitors online.
There is very little point in driving traffic to a website with poor design or message, and there is no point in having a terrific website design if no one finds it.
Design | Marketing | SEO – VisionFriendly.com
OK, this is not my original content, but the concepts presented are part and parcel to the discovery phase questions that we try to go through with every client to ensure that their website is created with the correct voice to the message presented to the right audience.
This came through my SitePro News email subscription which is generally pretty basic information, but every once-in-a-while they strike gold:
What Do You Know About Your Clients and Prospects State of Mind?
When visitors land on your website, they have very little time to read what you say. They have a need for information or a product and don’t want to listen or read verbose descriptions and comments. You have about 8 seconds to engage them and get them to take action.
Do most visitors land on your website wanting:
2) A “quick fix”,
3) A bargain,
4) A large selection,
5) Or a telephone call, etc.?
It is imperative to know the answers to these and many other questions BEFORE you design the pages within your website.
Do You Make Website Visitors Feel You Can Satisfy Their Wants and Needs?
Landing on any page within your website [especially the Homepage] must make the visitor know that you understand their needs, business, wants, and desires. The more you put yourself into the “mindset” of the website visitor, the better chance you have of converting their visit into something you want to happen i.e. buy, complete a contact us form, bookmark the page, pick up the phone and call you or any other method of measurable conversion.
What Approach Do You Take When Developing Pages Within Your Website?
What do you think you would want from your website if you were the prospective visitor or client? Assume you don’t know as much information as you want in order to make an informed decision. Talk to these visitors in a language they will understand. If visitors want more insight or information, tell them to click on the more info link or give you a call. They will follow your direction ONLY if you have built some level of trust or understanding.
What are You “Selling” to the Website Visitor?
Are you focused on telling them about your product or ervice or are you making them understand that choosing your firm will deliver that special feeling they are seeking by making the purchase? Are you sure that you made the visitor know that you understand their needs, wants, problems, etc.? What techniques did you implement to get your points across?
How are You Going to Get the Visitor to Stop and Think About Your Service or Product?
Remember… they are ready to pass by your website in a blink of an eye. What are you going to do to engage them? The answer you come up with will be critical to the success you have in gaining their confidence enough to buy or call you. Make sure what you say is NOT the same old thing they are used to seeing or reading on other websites. Be boring and you lose! Address the issues that appeal to the visitor and they WILL STOP! This is hard work… but worth the effort.
What Kind of “Call to Action” Statements are You Placing on Your Website?
Turning a visitor into a prospect or client is one of the most critical actions of your website. How will you engage them? Once they know that you understand their needs and wants, they are more inclined to follow your CTA direction. Call to Action statements are critical to the success of any website’s conversion. Guide them in a manner that is more telling, rather than selling. Don’t be afraid to be assertive.
How Does Your Website Address the “Who Are We” Issue?
Again, it is about making the website visitor feel confident that they are choosing a reputable firm or organization with which to do business. They need to read about your success. This can be done by exhibiting your affiliation with associations, awards won, satisfied client statements, client success stories, examples of your work, etc. Show them you are a “player” in your industry.
Are You Prepared to Answer: “What Makes You Different”?
What have clients and prospects said about you and your company? Have they applauded you for your approach to doing business? Did they say you made them feel like you understood their needs and wants? Think back to the reasons clients buy from you. How did you meet their needs and wants? Give your prospective clients reasons to do business with your firm.
A final thought…
Make it your primary goal to understand the potential client. Look at your website through that client’s perspective. Who are they? What makes them different? What do they individually want and need? Be informative… do more telling than selling. They will “get it” and appreciate that you have made them an educated buyer. Finally, tell them what you want them to do next. Get them to take the first step and be ready to deliver on the expectations you have set throughout your website!
Finally, be sure to hire Internet marketing professionals to do the job if you don’t have the capabilities in-house. Too much is at stake to leave this part of your business to chance! We are pleased to provide you the insightful comments contained herein.
(By: Internet Consulting And Coaching, Inc.)
So, in conclusion; no matter who you have create your website, be sure that these concepts are being addressed at your initial discovery meeting. because it defeats the purpose to have a great website design that doesn’t cause people to act on the information you are providing. Just like having a site that gets the message across without presenting it in a professional and exciting way. Good website design needs both the sophisticated design and thought process to seperate you from the millions of other distractions online.