How To Choose The Right Colour For Your Store

the science of colour

When it comes to building your brand, there’s an endless array of important factors to consider: your homepage, your logo, your ‘About Us’ story -- the list goes on. But how much throughout have you given to the colours of your online store’s layout, and what they convey to your customers within the first 2 seconds of their visit to your homepage?

Colour is one of the most important marketing tools at an online boutique’s disposal, as nearly everything associated with an online brand is visual. Your customers can’t touch your products or ask storefront employees for help, which means that your online presence -- and the colours that you choose to define it -- need to inspire a sense of confidence in your brand.

"Research reveals people make a sub-conscious judgment about an environment or product within 90 seconds of initial viewing".

What’s So Important About Colour?

The importance of colour in marketing goes all the way back to human nature and the way our brains work. When we see images in colour we’re much more likely to remember them over colourless images, simply because there’s an extra layer of information that resonates in our brains. It attracts our attention more, with ads in colour being read up to half again as much as ads in black and white. Furthermore, when the human eye sees colours, our brain releases certain hormones that can affect our mood, mental clarity, and of course our willingness to make purchases.

Engaging a customer visually will help them actively peruse your website, which gives you a subtle advantage over competitors. You can even break through a person’s mistrust of advertising or being sold something through colour, as a visually stimulating display -- something a customer wants to look at -- takes our minds off of the marketing aspect in a way that a plain block of colourless text just can’t.

the science of colour
Color in Marketing: From What Color is the Most Popular on the Internet? by Derek Mead, Motherboard

What Colour Tell Us Subconsciously?

There are tons of colour theories out there that say red or yellow walls in restaurants make us hungrier, or green signifies wealth and will attract customers because they want to be associated with that wealth. However, the truth is that colour is largely subject to our own individual experiences, with a few exceptions:

Red signifies passion and intensity, and has even been proven in a study to motivate people more. University students were given instructions to “squeeze” a ball, with the instructions overlayed on either grey, blue, or red backgrounds. Sure enough, students who were told to “squeeze” with a red background squeezed harder, and started the task sooner than those who had read their instructions on blue or grey backgrounds. This doesn’t mean that red is the ultimate power colour, however; it just shows that scientifically, colours can and do change our attitudes.

Ever notice how most social media websites use blue as their primary colour? Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, Instagram, and Skype all use blue because it signifies a calming sense of stability, a sense that all young tech upstarts need to foster in their users.

Black and White
Apple uses white quite heavily to signify that they are interested in clean, simple design and to couple that with their brand. Innocence, freshness, and a summery feeling can all come across with white. Black, on the other hand, can signify power, toughness, strength, or ruggedness. Think Harley Davidson or your favourite heavy metal band.

the science of colour
Colour in marketing diagram produced by Kissmetrics

The Colour Wheel

Generally, it’s useful to look at the colour wheel and see how it’s divided into cool and warm colours. Warm colours signify enthusiasm, warmth, energy, and passion. Meanwhile, cooler colours generally inspire thoughts of stability, professionalism, and calmness. These are in no way absolutes, but can be a useful way of understanding basic colour concepts when you first start your online store.

It’s also important not to mix too many colours, especially not from different sides of the colour wheel. Doing this can make your ecommerce store, which needs to inspire confidence in your consumer in order to sell your product, look unfocused and untrustworthy.

the science of colour
Colour wheel is a tool used to discover and coordinate colour harmonies. Diagram produced by Kissmetrics

Colour And Your Brand

The most important thing about colour is to remember that it will be tied to your brand, and should therefore be appropriate. When you think of Coca-Cola, you think red automatically -- and therefore their competitors, Pepsi, chose blue to differentiate yourself. McDonalds’ golden arches are famous around the world, while EasyJet’s orange lettering is friendly and easy to remember.

It’s more important that the colours you choose make sense with your brand than that they match up with what “colour science” tells us. Luckily, this is largely common sense: if you’re selling rugged, durable handmade leather goods, a glittery pink background will likely not convey the durability of your product. Meanwhile, if you’re launching your own line of cosmetics, pink may be the perfect option for your girly brand. If you want to skew towards an older audience, consider the universal ‘sexy’ signifiers of black and red. SupaDupa makes it easy to coordinate colours within your website layout using shop themes, but it’s up to you to ensure that the colours make sense.

You should also consider what your competitors are using. Remember that colour choices are all about building brand recognisability and making customers remember you. That might mean choosing a colour that sticks out from the rest. If you’re an environmentally conscious brand, for instance, you might want to stay away from green even though it’s the easiest colour signifier -- it’s up to you.

the science of colour

Trésor a SupaDupa store selling homeware, is a great example of using a shade of grey to produce balance and tranquility within the brand.

Useful Resources

A website about analytics, marketing and testing.

A resourceful internet marketing company.

Provide internet marketing advice and software

Colour consultant experts