Conversion Wednesday – What Colors Mean

By Dan G


This article might have caught your eye because you were curious to hear about what colors mean and how they can impact your website. Here is a quick rundown of all they major colors and a consensus of each of their meanings:

Red: Red is the color of blood and fire. Thus it has been associated with urgency, energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire, and love. Red is a very emotionally intense color. Red has a very high visibility, which is why stop signs, stoplights, and fire equipment are usually painted red. Red also tends to bring text and images to the foreground. Making it the perfect color for ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Add-To-Cart’ buttons.

Yellow: Yellow is the color of sunshine. Thus it has been associated with joy, happiness, intellect, and energy. Yellow tends to arouse cheerfulness, stimulate mental activity, and produce a warming effect. Yellow is seen before other colors when placed against black; that’s why this combination is often used to issue a warning. Yellow is very effective for attracting attention, so use it to highlight the most important elements of your design.

Orange: Orange combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. It is associated with joy, sunshine, and the tropics. To the human eye, orange is a very hot color, so it gives the sensation of heat. Nevertheless, orange is not as aggressive as red. Orange has very high visibility, so you can use it to catch attention and highlight the most important elements of your design.

Blue: Blue is the color of the sky and sea. It is often associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven. You can use blue to promote products and services related to cleanliness. As opposed to emotionally warm colors like red, orange, and yellow; blue is linked to consciousness and intellect. Blue is also a masculine color that is highly accepted among males. Dark blue is associated with depth, expertise, and stability; it is a preferred color for corporate America.

Green: Green is the color of nature. It symbolizes growth, harmony, freshness, and fertility. Dark green is also commonly associated with money. Green has great healing power. It is the most restful color for the human eye; it can improve vision. Green is also directly related to nature, so you can use it to promote ‘green’ products. Dull, darker green is commonly associated with money, the financial world, banking, and Wall Street.

Purple: Purple combines the stability of blue and the energy of red. Purple is commonly associated with royalty. It symbolizes power, nobility, luxury, and ambition. It conveys wealth and extravagance. Purple is associated with wisdom, dignity, independence, creativity, mystery, and magic. Purple is a very rare color in nature; some people consider it to be artificial. Light purple is a good choice for a feminine design. You can use bright purple when promoting children’s products.

Pink: Pink traditionally is associated with femininity and is seldom used in design to target men. Because of its calming effect, the color pink has been used to paint the locker rooms of opposing sports teams. Pink is a good example of how the meanings behind colors can shift. Today, many would associate pink with breast cancer awareness.

White: White is associated with light, goodness, innocence, purity, and virginity. It is considered to be the color of perfection. White means safety, purity, and cleanliness. As opposed to black, white usually has a positive connotation. In advertising, white is associated with coolness and cleanliness because it’s the color of snow. White is also associated with hospitals, doctors, and sterility, so you can use white to suggest safety when promoting medical products.

Black: Black is associated with power, elegance, formality, death, evil, and mystery. Black is a mysterious color associated with fear and the unknown (black holes). It usually has a negative connotation (blacklist, black humor, ‘black death’). Black denotes strength and authority; it is considered to be a very formal, elegant, and prestigious color. Black contrasts well with bright colors. Combined with red or orange – other very powerful colors – black gives a very aggressive color scheme.

Gold: Gold is associated with prestige, illumination, wealth, and expensive things. Gold is frequently used as a secondary color. When used as a primary color in design, gold often takes on the properties of yellow.

Silver: Silver is associated with prestige, cold, scientific. Silver is very similar to gold but it evokes a colder emotion rather than the happier, brighter feeling associated with gold.

We’ll go into more information on color combinations and color/brand identity in the next 2 slides.

Using combinations of the colors mentioned in the last slide can help push an emotional connection with your shoppers. For example, as previously mentioned, light blues tend to be friendlier while dark blues tend to be more reliable and invoke a feeling of trust. Lighter greens seem calmer while brighter greens seem more energetic. This is where color-theory terms like hue, value, and saturation become important and should be considered with context when creating an atmosphere from color.

Similar to the emotional shifts caused by lightening or darkening a color, different color combinations evoke different emotional responses. Black and red send a different emotional message than white and red. For a simpler example, we can think about color combinations associated with holidays. Red, white, and green in combination can be reminiscent of Christmas. Black and orange are associated with Halloween. Red, orange, and brown have ties with autumn and Thanksgiving. You can begin to see how using different colors in different combinations can create new feelings or atmospheres for your shoppers.

Let’s continue on the next slide.

In addition to emotional associations, colors can create new links to brand recognition. When thinking about colors in the context of brands, you’re likely to get entirely new associations. For example, thinking of orange might remind you of The Home Depot or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Magenta might remind you of T-Mobile. Silver might leave you thinking of Apple. The color Blue might bring to mind Facebook or Walmart. Notice, with this last example that saturation plays an important role in the message the color blue sends. The blue color used by Facebook and Walmart is unique and easy to spot.

It has also been proven that color improves memory. In the case of brands, color has been shown to improve brand recognition by as much as 85 percent. This is a statistic that shouldn’t be ignored. So whether you are developing a website or building a brand, now that you know some of their meanings, consider which colors will deliver the appropriate theme for your site.

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So now that you know all of this about colors, are you reconsidering any of the color-schemes on your site? If so, don’t go make these changes without knowing the consequences. Consider utilizing our testing program.