Nick Clegg has a problem; according to academic research his party could lose a significant number of seats in the next general election. But as soon as you think of the Liberal Democrats or their leader, what colour comes to mind? Yes, you’re thinking of yellow aren’t you? Gosh; I’m a mind reader…! But the colour yellow is the Lib Dems “brand” colour. But what do you associate with the colour “yellow”? Aha…could it be cowardice? Yellow is a colour of timidity too. Not the colour you probably associate with power, boldness and decisiveness. Perhaps that’s why the Lib Dems website is reducing its emphasis on the yellow in the brand. Maybe the potential loss of seats has nothing to do with boundary changes and being “in bed” with the Tories. Perhpas it’s because we perceive them as cowards, thanks to the colour they have chosen.
Colour has a significant impact on our behaviour. Think of the colour purple for instance. That’s associated with royalty and stature; in the Church of England purple is the colour worn by Bishops. Purple represents authority and status. Now what colour is a Cadbury chocolate bar wrapped in…? You guessed – purple. Even though chocolate aficionados might say other brands have superior taste, Cadbury’s in its purple wrapping is still, interestingly, the gold standard of respectability.
The colour you choose for your business and indeed your website have a significant impact on how you are perceived. And new research confirms how colour change the way we think. The study conducted by psychologists at the University of Rochester showed that when we are shown the colour red our reactions quicken. We tend to spend less time thinking. Hence the headline above in red is likely to have got you to agree with my sentiment more quickly than might otherwise have been the case because you didn’t stop to think “how do you know I will love this blog post”. Or if you did think that, your brain did not consider it for long. In other words, a bit of psychological trickery has made you more likely to agree with me. (I feel like a magician revealing how a trick is done now – sorry.)
But this comes as no surprise. Indeed, over two years ago I wrote how making a shopping cart red would increase sales. The colour red appears to quicken our brain functioning and reduce our attention to any potential distractions.
Often people have website colours which are part of their branding. But you might need different colours according to the actions you wish people to take on particular web pages. Corporate consistency is one thing – but getting your customers to engage is another. And that may mean the colours of your brand are not appropriate to the activity you want people to perform.
Colour psychology is an immensely complex subject. But as this new research suggests it is something you cannot ignore if you wish your website to have true impact. Perhaps it is time for the Lib Dems to show us they are not cowards by being bold, decisive and brave with a major colour change.
- The multicoloured political swap shop (guardian.co.uk)
- 56 Ways To Use Color Psychology To Impact Logo Design (skyje.com)
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+