The 'Ins and Outs' of Colour

Colour evokes a multitude of different emotions in us. Part of how we differentiate brands and objects is based upon colour. Colour is however, subjective. Think of colour as a sensation. Light reaches your eye, stimulates the sensors in your eyes, which report the sensation to your brain and your visual system designates a colour.

Men and women have fairly distinct colour preferences, with men preferring bold colours and women leaning towards softer shades. Interestingly the most popular colour for both genders is blue, with orange being the most disliked by both genders. Women also have a strong preference towards blue, purple and green. While men prefer blue, green and black in that order, they particularly dislike purple.

A breakdown of colour preferences by gender.

In The Marketplace

In a competitive market, colour can make a product both recognisable and immediately attractive. Did you know that you form an impression about something in a meer 90 seconds? With much of that impression based on the colour alone. This is why brands in competitive markets like Starbucks, MacDonalds, Burger King and Vida Café rely heavily on bright colour schemes to easily differentiate their logos from their competitior's logos.

It's no stretch to the imagination to now say that when considering brand colours, one must consider what message you want to convey to potential customers. Colour is one of the simplest ways to convey a specific message to a target market, even without the use of words.

Colours can evoke specific emotions, for instance blue conveys trust, safety and a sense of relaxation.

Why is Blue so Popular?

Blue is a colour which conveys trust, safety and a sense of relaxation. Taking this into consideration many designers tend to a strong use of blue throughout their projects in order to ensure that users are comfortable. This helps improve users support of the application or product, as well as improves the user's engagement and behaviour. Simply put, it is no accident that the world's biggest social network chose blue, especially since their core values are trust and transparency.

Interestingly, when measuring conversion rates, bright colours achieve the highest conversion rates. The best colours for calls-to-action are bright shades of green, red, yellow and orange.

Designers often use colour to grab a readers or users attention. Especially when a user is learning something new colour can play a vital role in the user journey, as well as their retention of important information.

Using Colour In Design

Product designers also use colour to help users immediately figure out what the uses of a product are. For instance while pink is traditionally associated with candy and girly items, it also conveys playfulness, hence the use of it by quite a few young brands like T-Systems and Vumatel.

More and more it is becoming apparent that a lot of clients purchasing decisions are affected by colour. Black conveys a sense of exclusiveness, which is why so many upmarket brands tend to use it strongly in their branding as it projects the feeling of luxuriousness that consumers want.

Bright shades like red and yellow are used to attract our attention. In in everyday life yellow is used to convey warnings, with red becoming more widely used in user interfaces wherever a users attention is required most immediately.

Equally important to understand is the role of white in design. White is not simply a great background colour it is required in most designs to assist with creating a clean, uncluttered look and feel. However, when we talk about white space, we do not only mean necessarily in the sense of colour. White space is the space around elements, which can make or break a design as it is what creates better clarity, ease of legibility and natural space to rest the eyes.


So, while colour has much to do with branding there is a far deeper role to consider for it. Consider carefully how best to use colour in each specific design case, as specific colours can trigger specific emotions in our target markets, quickly convey a product's use to a potential consumer and better guide a user through an application.

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