Color psychology is a hot topic that’s been researched, debated, and explored by marketers, psychologists and scientists alike. And it’s not surprising—visual content is becoming increasingly important and gaining momentum in all areas of online marketing.

Neil Patel explained in his recent post on color psychology, “If the right colors are used, and the right customers receive the right message, you’ll get fewer objections to the purchase, regardless of price.” It makes sense. Knowing your target market and reaching them are both critical to your business’s success.

Although this sounds easy in theory, we recognize that choosing the “right” color can be a bit tricky because each person’s perceptions of color vary so widely—just think about the gold dress brouhaha (I said gold dress because it was gold, damnit). However, when you consider your audience’s preferences and make an informed and well thought out decision, you’re effectively doing your job as a marketer and designer.

That all sounds great, but how do you actually go about applying color psychology to your target audience?

We here at Digital Telepathy created the following personas to provide a handful of examples to show you how color psychology could be applied. Personas are an excellent way to first determine your target audience—who would potentially be visiting your site—why they’re there, and what they would do once they’re on the site. These examples are in no way meant to be an inclusive reflection of the diverse population that is online. It’s just a simple way to show how we could apply color psychology to some personas we had created.

Read on to see how a few examples of how color psychology works for those few select personas:

When applying color psychology to your website for a C-Level executive, you have to target what’s in it for them. C-Level executives are busy, and if they are actually on your site, they have a direct reason to be there. Make their job easy. Reach C-Level executives with power colors, especially in your Call To Actions (CTAs).

If you feel red is a bit too aggressive for your brand, orange is also an effective color for imbuing confidence. This is a great color choice for 15Five since they make software that allows managers to solicit their employees for weekly reviews.

Go with a color that’s going to compel them to take action, like red. Last year, Hubspot conducted A/B testing on the color of CTA buttons, and they found that red performed better than green by 21%. Maybe it’s because red is sexier or because it’s just easy being green, but the results showed that more people chose red. When you think about it, the color psychology behind it makes sense. Stop signs are red because they need to alert people to take immediate action.

Not only is red a powerful color, but it stood out against the background where as green blended in. Choosing the right color for your CTA can equate to serious gains, especially if your target market is a C-Level exec who is short on time.

This persona cares immensely about a brand’s image and message. It’s not only their job, but it’s likely their passion. When you think about the visual aspect of a company’s brand, the first thing most people think of is the company logo. Blues and grays evoke a sense of trust and balance which is a perfect choice for social networks and other companies that hold a vast amount of data.

If blue seems too played-out for your brand, try purple on for size. Aussie hair products uses purple to convey wisdom, similar to blue's trust.

When you deliberately choose a color that is preferred by your target audience, you’re making a conscious effort to appeal to your customer’s wants and needs, subconsciously sending your prospective customer the right vibe is great for your business. Consistency is great, but don’t deny exceptions to the rules for a great campaign concept.

When programmers like Nirav are online, they’re likely looking at case studies, opportunities to learn and jobs. Programmers aren’t looking for fluff, they’re looking for facts. Consider that gray is often used to convey professionalism, timelessness and credibility—for someone who is interested in gaining clarity, gray would be the ideal color to appeal to his or her senses. Check out GitHub’s website—they use a palette of blues and grays, which would absolutely appeal to its target audience. It’s a perfect example of a site that is focused on its target audience.

Like silver, black is also a timeless, professional color and also conveys a pureness. Nike has figured out how use black to gain credibility among athletes all over the globe.

Keep in mind, people like Paresh doesn’t to “be sold to”, so it’s unnecessary to bombard them with action colors, like red. Similarly, if the site’s color scheme appears too whimsical with invigorating colors like orange, a programmer might not take it seriously. When you turn off your target user, you’re turning off opportunities.

Color Your Bottom Line

One final note about color for action: no matter what color you choose, if it doesn’t stand out, it’s not going to matter. For example, when you are reading a text, you might highlight the important bits of information so that they stand out to you. If you were to highlight the entire page of text, the important information would be lost. The same idea applies for design—if the colors and white space aren’t balanced, your CTAs won’t be calling any visitor’s attention. 

The bottom line is that color choices appeal to target markets differently—it’s not an exact science and I don’t purport it to be one. The reality is that the color choices you make can and do affect users’ behavior, so make your color choices with precision. Each color selected should be deliberate, calculated, and not picked on a whim. 

What colors have you chosen for your latest design and why? We’d love to hear from you.