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How to Use Colors Effectively in Content Marketing

[fa icon="calendar"] 11/8/18 9:04 AM / by Anthony Greer

Ever since artists combined chalk, charcoal, soil, and animal fat to create a basic palette 40,000 years ago, colors have been used to create a mood and feeling. Color is used to influence how we view our surroundings and elicits a variety of emotions.

 


Think about the Coca-Cola logo. One of the first things that come to mind is that it’s red, emphasizing it’s youthful, exciting, and bold persona. Logos like Chase and Facebook are blue, putting an emphasis on trust, while the McDonald's’ ‘M’ arch is an optimistic, warm yellow.


Color use in marketing goes far beyond logos. 85% of shoppers place color as a primary reason for why they buy a particular product, and 93% of consumers place visual appearance and color above all other factors when shopping.


Each color evokes a different feeling, mood, or emotion. Therefore, it’s essential to know what colors emphasize the tone you are striving for when visually marketing your product.

If done well, by being just a little more thoughtful about the colors you use in your content, you could drastically increase the number of leads attracted to your brand.

Warm and Cool Colors

Warm colors are often associated with Autumn and include reds, yellows, and oranges. These colors are great for creating emotion, optimism, and energy. Lego’s red design is fun and playful, whereas Fanta’s and Nickelodeon’s bright oranges are full of personality and are meant to excite users.


Nickelodeon’s website is full of images and videos placed in front of a bright orange background distinctive to its brand, while Red Bull’s bright red CTA button allows you to click on its many videos, images, and blog posts.


On the opposite side of the color wheel, cool colors are meant to be calm and relaxing in nature. These colors consist of blues, greens, purples, and pinks.


Asprey, a company that sells high-end accessories, customized jewelry, and other luxury items, is known for its quintessential purple brand. Their site includes images of their products wrapped in purple bows and, when navigating, users operate a deep purple drop box that further emphasizes their color scheme. Starbucks’ use of green in its company logo and throughout its website emphasizes the earthiness of its brand, while Victoria’s Secret use of pink is as comforting as it is feminine.

Black and White

Often, black is used to emphasize a sense of class, luxury, and never goes out of style. If used too often, black runs the risk of overwhelming a customer. When paired with white, however, it can represent balance (take ‘Ying and Yang’ for example). Black is also frequently used to trim down the appearance of sizes on items, hence why people feel that black clothing is ‘slimming.’

White often sparks a sense of creativity because it acts as a clean slate or a blank canvass. As mentioned above, it pairs very well with black, emphasizing ‘light’ or neutrality.


An article in The University of Chicago Press states that “black-and-white images can lead consumers to focus on the abstract, essential, and defining components of a product. In contrast, color images can draw attention to the concrete, sometimes unimportant and idiosyncratic features of the product.” Once used effectively, some brands have discovered that black and white are all they need.

Value

When colors are described as being “light” or “dark,” this refers to their value or brightness. Think of it in terms of greyscale bars:



As a color property, value expresses the varying shades of the same color, which can hold different meanings within the color itelf. For instance: the color blue itself is meant to convey trust, dependability, and wholesomeness. Because of this, a lot of financial industry companies use blue, as do quite a few social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter.


On the darker side of the color, shades such as navy blue begin to share more of the properties associated with black, conveying importance, authority, power, confidence, intelligence, and stability.


Lighter blues such as the Pantone shade of cerulean are considered soothing, calming, and evoke feelings of peace and confidence. As a result, you can elicit varying thoughts and emotions based on what value of the color you use in your marketing and designs.

Monochromatic Marketing and Design

Keeping the varying degrees of value and color identity in mind, some companies use monochromatic schemes in their layouts. According to Insight, going monochromatic is a common marketing practice for designers who want to portray a balanced interface while focusing on the overall UX (user experience). Using varying hues of a single color effectively communicates simple messages with a sophisticated ambiance and being easy on the eye.

Check out this breakdown of trendy color schemes by awwwards for some good examples.

Analogous Color Schemes

Analogous colors are colors that are right next to each other on the color wheel (ex. red, red/orange, and orange, or violet, blue/violet, and blue). It doesn’t matter what the colors are, just as long as they are closely associated with one another. Grouping analogous colors together result in harmonious designs such as this collection from Sumy Designs, including images like:



Analogous colors give a similar feel as monochromatic design but offer slightly more variety that adds a level of sophistication and depth to your monochromatic palette.

Complementary Color Schemes

Complementary colors schemes are made up of colors that are opposite ends of the color wheel, such as blue and orange or cherry and emerald. To understand which colors complement one another, think of the three primary colors: blue, red, and yellow. Each combination of these three colors makes three more colors (blue + red = purple, and so on).


In its simplest form, complementary colors consist of the primary colors + the secondary color that isn’t used to make that secondary color. If blue and red make purple, then purple’s complementary color is yellow. Red and yellow make orange, so orange’s complementary color is blue. The University of Washington’s logo and website are great examples of how complementary colors work in marketing and design:


When used well, complementary colors are dynamic and pleasing to the eye. Instead of their harmonious analogous counterparts, complementary colors are meant to demand attention and play off of each other’s intensity. For example, Apartment Therapy reveals how much this orange pops out in an otherwise blue room:



By understanding the psychology of color in marketing, you can create colorful content with a clear idea in mind of what emotions you are looking to convey. You can play with warm and cool tones, values of black and whites, and choose from a variety of similar or opposite colors and their many shades. The more you experiment with color use in your content marketing, the more intrigued your customers will become. Just make sure it stays on brand!

Anthony Greer

Written by Anthony Greer

Anthony Greer is a twice-published author and copywriter with a focus in marketing, branding, and product development.