optimising online revenue

What color is your advertising? Part 2

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notes and references



Color theory and advertisingYellow is clearly vibrant, energetic and fun - it's the color of sunshine, flame and fire and is closely associated with warmth, happiness and the positive energy such states create. It produces bodily responses that are perfectly in keeping with this reading, too; an instant feeling of well-being along with a noticeable boost to mental activity.

For this reason, it's a color that effectively communicates the nature of products associated with vitality and stimulus, such as energy drinks, sports equipment, vitamin supplements or remedies. And as the perfect feel-good color, it's a great choice too for promoting group leisure activities, clubs and social networks.

Visually, yellow has a high impact that's hard to ignore, a fact reflected in its use for items such as sticky notes and highlighter inks. Since it demonstrably sharpens attention, too (back to the notes and highlighter pens!) it's worth considering lighter yellows as a background for large amounts of text, especially copy that requires close attention such as tutorials, instructions, or rules and regulations.

Yellow does requires a certain amount of care, however. Very light yellows can often appear drab, especially on-screen, while brighter shades tend to become overpowering.

The yellow effect is an intense one, and its enervating qualities can quickly put people on edge. Yellow rooms make babies cry more, and they also provoke hot tempers and arguments. And finally, while it's a color that can be used to market most products to women - from washing up gloves to expensive scents - men are far less likely to appreciate its use with expensive or luxury goods.




Marketing with color theoryPristine and pure, white appropriately signifies cleanliness, spiritual health and, of course, purity in most cultures.

It's considered a non-color to which nothing has been added, making it an ideal choice for products wanting to accentuate their unadulterated, un-tampered with goodness: no-frills items, reduced fat, low-sugar or no-additive foods, pure juices, skin-care products.

White is also the classic 'clean' color, providing the easiest way to add a sense of uncluttered spaciousness to print or screen graphics.

Yet its association with cleanliness and hygiene (white clearly shows dirt so is commonly used in hospitals, for example) lends it a certain clinical quality that can deprive a marketing message of warmth or even context. For this reason, it's best used with an accent color to combine the best of two worlds - the visual clarity of white and the emotional resonance of a carefully chosen highlight.

Remember, too, that on-screen, the combination of light-filled white with black text is fairly hard on the eye. Try choosing a tinted background for large quantities of copy (yellow is often a good choice, as mentioned above) or change the color of the text itself.



Website design and color theoryAlthough in western culture the color black certainly holds several negative linguistic connotations (black magic, black market) it's also very positively associated with authority, prestige and exclusivity (black tie event, black credit card, black mercedes).

A slightly confusing message, but in general, black can be used very effectively to denote cool sophistication and a powerful sense of extreme luxury or expense.

Pair this with the fact that visually, it's a color that creates a real sense of depth while also focusing the attention more completely than white, and black makes an ideal backdrop for images of luxury goods or services such as high-end hotels. Men seem to respond particularly well to such a combination - perhaps because it's also been shown that for guys, black is a color with marked erotic overtones (combine it with red and you're onto a testerone-charged winner that's bound to attract male attention!)

Black is also by far the most common text color; perfect in print, although on-screen the contrast with white can often seem harsh. A good tip is to consider using a very dark gray instead. And colored text against a black background is rarely a good idea except in small areas, as black backgrounds diminish readability and will quickly tire viewers.




colour theory and site optimisationWith Its combination of energetic reds and feel-good yellows, orange is a color that's clearly suggestive of fun, warmth and pleasure. And like its constituents, orange exerts an invigorating effect by increasing oxygen to the brain and stimulating mental activity. I

t's therefore an excellent choice for any product associated with energy and vigor, such as sporting equipment or services, adventure holidays, theme park rides, energy drinks. (Think you've read something like this before? Well in fact, orange can impart very similar messages to red, but importantly, without its slightly aggressive edge.)

Of all the colors, orange is also the best at stimulating appetite. So good in fact, that you may notice a lot of it in the snack or candy shelves near a checkout. Strategic thinking, because the orange ability to generate sudden hunger pangs will often lead to impulse purchases.

Yet orange, particularly in its brighter shades, is also a color that's perceived as lacking prestige.

Perhaps this is because its high visibility means it frequently appears in motel signs, fast food outlets and similar 'low-frills' businesses, but whatever the reasons, it's a color that's associated with lower-budget options and shouldn't be used extensively for products wanting to impart a high quality message. (The opposite also holds true, however, making it a very good choice to indicate value for money, savings and discounts).




design and color theoryMysterious, alluring, and very definitely regal, purple is a relatively uncommon color in nature. In the ancient world, its scarcity meant that it was highly valued, and rare, expensive purple dyes were used exclusively by nobility.
This association with wealth and prestige remains to this day, making purple, especially in its darker shades, an excellent complement to luxury items.

In fact, the association with expense is so strong that it can even be used to add a touch of instant class to cheaper products. For example, a bus company using purple livery would almost certainly be perceived as more luxurious than one using orange. The risk here, though, is that the consumer's perception of comparative price might also rise accordingly - even if fares are identical.

Purple secrets!

Purple also has some interesting hidden talents. It's been noted, for instance, that many women find it an extremely erotic color, making it the female equivalent of the guys' libido-enhancing black.

In fact, purple turns out to be a very girly color indeed - far more so than pink, the usual suspect. It's a definite hit amongst young and adolescent girls for example, with some studies claiming that almost 75% rate it their favorite color. So while men seem fairly neutral about purple, if you're looking for a color that speaks directly to the ladies, this may well be the one to choose.




colour theory and personalityAnd what about the guys? Well if you tried to guess, chances are you'd get it right. Brown, along with blue, is consistently voted a favorite color by men.

And why not? Solid, earthy, dependable; it might lack the zing of the brighter primaries, but it resonates with a sense of trustworthiness and dependability. And if that's the kind of message you're looking to add to your marketing strategy, brown is often the right color to convey it - especially of course, if the product's aimed specifically at males.

An interesting off-shoot of all this earnestness is the fact that brown is often claimed to be a highly 'believable' color, too. In other words, it's more likely to add credibility to an advertising message - an important factor if your communication makes claims that may seem extravagant.

Bear in mind though, that if used too extensively brown can also have a stodgy, dampening effect. And whatever message your marketing is ultimately trying to convey, its main purpose is to stimulate enough visual interest to attract and excite instant attention.

But even in this respect, brown turns out to be pretty dependable: it easily converts into lighter and darker shades without losing depth, and can also be mixed with more dynamic colors - reds, yellows, oranges for a much more upbeat feel. So use the color recommendations given here to spice up a brown accordingly.

Planning an ad for well-made, hard-wearing, yet sporty gear for guys? Brown combined with a hint of red should give just the right message.




* While images are generally more noticeable than flat blocks of color, they are, of course, usually dominated by a specific color in order to enhance and support an overall layout.

* One example would be the use of white clothing to signify mourning in India and many parts of Asia. In this article I'm focusing on color in the context of western culture.

* Numerous studies have shown that higher levels of coloring in food or drinks leads to the belief that they are stronger in taste than identical items with less color. Assumptions regarding color-taste correlation can even cause errors when identifying flavor; for example, a cherry-flavored drink colored purple may well be identified as grape.

* The color green has long been a symbol of ecologically motivated political parties and movements, but it's only in recent years that this meaning has become completely mainstream through widespread media emphasis on global warming and other ecological issues.

* Oddly enough, red in this context don't seem to provoke a 'stop' response and will also work well for buttons, particularly if a quick decision is required. Green, however, will always be perceived as a less risky click.


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