How color can brand a product and engage users


Tread with caution

There are many statements along the lines of "color X is the absolute right color to drive engagement". But be aware, it might not be the right color for you! The psychology of color is a controversial aspect of marketing because it relies heavily on anecdotal evidence, cultural background, personal preference, upbringing and context. 

Based on the most reliable research on color theory,  we do believe that selecting the right color for your audience can make a big difference in web engagement, advertising results and potentially product design. But with the caveat that you should test various colors to learn which is the right color for your audience within the context of your product. 

There are many charts that can serve as a launch pad for this conversation such as these:

But as we'll explain, these images should only be used as a starting point to create your own color consideration set.

In a study by the University of Winnipeg called Impact of Color in Marketing, researchers found that between 62-90% of judgments can be based on color alone. "Color is ubiquitous and is a source of information. People make up their minds within 90 seconds of their initial interactions with either people or products. About 62‐90 percent of the assessment is based on colors alone. So, prudent use of colors can contribute not only to differentiating products from competitors, but also to influencing moods and feelings – positively or negatively – and therefore, to attitude towards certain products."

However, contrary to  what you might be inclined to do based on the above color charts; when it comes to picking the "right" color, research has found that color appropriateness in relation to the product is far more important than the individual color itself. 

Certain colors do broadly align with specific traits (e.g., purple with sophistication, and red with excitement). But most academic studies on color in relation to marketing say that it's far more important for colors to support the personality you want to portray instead of trying to align with stereotypical color associations. For instance "green means calm", but sometimes green is used to brand environmental issues or can have associations with combat or the army. 

Colors need to make sense in the context of your product and there aren't any foul-proof guidelines for choosing your brand's colors. But that doesn't mean they aren't important and worth testing. Use the above charts to create a shortlist of colors that make sense for your game and start testing them. Other data that might help you come up with a consideration set:

Check for Hues

A large majority of consumers prefers similar colors and a sense of "unity" or "harmony". This also helps them identify certain colors with certain brands or even products. However, to spark a call-to-action, a contrasting accent is a strong addition to your color pallet. The study Consumer preferences for color combinations says: "...people generally like to combine colors that are relatively close or exactly match, with the exception that some people highlight one signature product component by using contrastive color." Another interesting study on the topic is Aesthetic response to color combinations: preference, harmony, and similarity.

Color and Engagement: Look for Contrast

There is a debate about which color is the best color to drive engagement on your website or call to action in an app. However based on the data we've seen; we don't believe there is a single best color for conversions. What's more important is contrast and we suspect that many people might attribute the increased engagement due to their individual choice of color rather than the fact that it stands out better on their specific website. 

The psychological principle known as the Isolation Effect states that an item that "stands out like a sore thumb" is more likely to be remembered. Research clearly shows that participants are able to recognize and recall an item far better (be it text or an image) when it blatantly sticks out from its surroundings.

The key take-aways here are that colors need to make sense in the context of your product, a pallet of similar and harmonized colors is preferred and contrast from its environment is what draws attention and engages people, not necessarily any particular individual color.

We hope this article has sparked some ideas, allows you to create a shortlist of color schemes for your consideration set and if anything debunks some of the statements that "color X is the absolute right color to drive engagement". It might not be the right color for you!


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