Focus.It is an online magazine written in Italian that features interesting articles on science, the environment, technology, culture, and behavior, along with excellent photography. Recently, I read an article on the science of colors, particularly applied to online marketing. It answers questions like, what colors are more widespread on the web? Which colors increase your appetite, reduce aggressiveness, or prompt you to open your wallet? Here is a brief summary beginning with an interesting study both in Scotland and Japan.
In 1999 in certain areas of Glasgow, rows of street lamps were fitted with blue lights for nighttime illumination. Since then crimes in those areas fell significantly. The same experiment was tried in 2005 in some neighborhoods in Nara, Japan. The result? Theft, robbery, and assaults decreased 9% in the streets illuminated in blue. Since 2009 these lights were installed in many Japanese railway stations, with the objective of reducing suicide attempts.
According to the experts, the color blue evokes safety, reliability, serenity: the beneficial effect on nightlife could be explained by this (although there are other possible explanations). Nighttime blue lights are found inside many airplanes and in corridors of hospital wards, where you can also find green, which tends to evoke calm, health, and freshness.
Red, on the other hand, is the color that more than any other captures our attention. It is the color of stop signs, and of blood. It accelerates the metabolism, and increases blood pressure and heart rate. This is why it also increases the appetite, pushing us to eat faster. Hence, the interiors and the packaging of fast food and Chinese restaurants are dominated by red. Women dressed in red increase exponentially their sex appeal. One recent research study revealed that men tended to increase, from 14.6% to 26.1%, tips given to waitresses dressed in red.
Color determines 80% of the recognition of a brand. What comes to mind is the red of Coca Cola and of the Ferrari pony. But if a company is launching a new product, site, or start-up that is particularly innovative, it is preferable to choose a tone less used and not associated with another brand.
Toned down hues are also very important. It is easier to stop—and buy—in a store decorated with cool colors rather than in a space with red walls. And black, and black and white, communicate value, prestige, durability, and sophistication of a product: many of the fashion brands of Italian excellence are black and white—Armani, Gucci, Versace, Dolce e Gabbana.
The colors most used by the 100 most popular brands in the world are blue (33%), red (29%) grey or black (28%) and yellow or gold (13%). And 95% of the biggest brands use only one or two colors in their logos. But in the great “marketplaces” online, shades of blue are practically double that of yellow or red, and almost triple that of green. Blue it is the color that dominates Facebook, Twitter, Google, Tumblr, Skype, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, and the list goes on. Yellow and orange are used on the web to invite you to buy, subscribe, or sell online. And red icons, which communicate a sense of urgency, are used in web stores for products on sale.
According to marketing research, women who are on the web like blue, purple, and green, and do not like orange, brown, and grey. Men prefer blue, green, and black, and do not like brown, orange and purple. While Italians and Americans perceive colors similarly, the culture of origin influences perception: white, red, and yellow, for us symbols of purity, passion, and vitality, are colors of mourning respectively in China, South Africa, and Egypt.