Color and Designing the Customer Experience – Some Basics

About 50% of our brain’s pathways are devoted to vision. Our retinas contain 150 million light-sensitive rod and cone cells that connect to the brain. The neurons in our brain devoted to visual processing number in the hundreds of millions and take up about 30 percent of the cortex, as compared with 8 percent for touch and just 3 percent for hearing. Each of the two optic nerves, which carry signals from the retina to the brain, consists of a million fibers; each auditory nerve carries a mere 30,000. []

When designing experiences, sight is clearly the dominant sense to consider (except if your target audience is blind – that is another subject). Color, in particular, has an emotional and psychological effect. Color influences our brand logo, exterior and interior design, signage, display, print and web materials, product design and more. Color is the first thing to strike a consumer’s eye when making a purchase decision. If it is interior design, industrial design or user-interface, there are some basics that we should know about color.

Different colors convey different meaning. According to Loyalty Square Impact of Color, this meaning can be of two major types. Natural associations and Psychological or Cultural associations:

Natural association stands for colors that bring to mind certain ideas generally registered by everyone and are universal in nature. Like associating green with nature and trees, yellow with sun or blue with sky.

Psychological or cultural associations are different for different part of the world and reflect the varied culture. Like, while black is the color of death in the West, white is often the color that represents death in other parts of the globe.

Some basics:

  • Women prefer blue, purple, and green and like least orange, brown, and gray while Men prefer blue, green, and black and like least brown, orange, and purple [Building Accessible Websites, Joe Clark]
  • Women prefer soft (pastel) colorswhile Men prefer bright colors
  • Women prefer tints (lighter colors) while Men prefer shades (darker colors) while [tints and shades]
  • Young children prefer more vibrant primary colors (red, yellow, green, blue, and purple)
  • Shopaholics respond quickly to vibrant colors like red, orange, black and royal blue while people who plan before budget, respond mainly to pink and shades of blue and conservative shoppers respond to pastel shades like sky blue, rose and pink.
  • Vibrant colors like red and orange make people eat more quickly which is why most fast food restaurants use these colors to turn over tables to serve more customers while cool colors like blues relax us – and a restaurant that wants their customers stay for more dessert, coffee, drinks – spend more – use these colors.
  • Blue is the most preferred color in Europe, Asia and North America, according to Leatrice Eiseman, Director of the Eiseman Center for Color Information and Training and author of the ‘Pantone Guide to Communicating With Color’ and ‘Colors for Your Every Mood’

Some final thoughts from Loyalty Square Impact of Color:

Know your target market: are they young, old, high income, low income, male or female and accordingly choose color to establish the brand in the market and also in the minds of their target consumers.

Use safe colors:  Unless your brand in itself is strong enough, the new market players should go with safe colors like blue, beige or green instead of colors like purple or orange.

Society evolves and so do color associations in most countries. Hence to a large extent, colors should be examined based on a country’s topographical, socio-economical and cultural trends. This will lead to a better connectivity with your customer, thus enhancing the experience you provide them and increase your company’s adoption, retention, advocacy and revenue.