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Episode 45 – The Science of Colors in Marketing

The Science of Colors in Marketing
 

          Why is Facebook blue? According to The New Yorker, the reason is simple. It’s because Mark Zuckerberg is red-green colorblind. This means that blue is the color Mark can see the best. In his own words Zuck says:

“Blue is the richest color for me; I can see all of blue.”

Not highly scientific right? Well, although in the case of Facebook, that isn’t the case, there are some amazing examples of how colors actually affect our purchasing decisions.

After all, the visual sense is the strongest developed one in most human beings. It’s only natural that 90% of an assessment for trying out a product is made by color alone.

So how do colors really affect us and what is the science of colors in marketing really? As we are also trying to make lots of improvements to our product at Buffer, this was a key part to learn more about. Let’s dig into some of the latest, most interesting research on it.

First:

Can you recognize the online brands just based on color?

Before we dive into the research, here are some awesome experiments that show you how powerful color alone really is. Based on just the colors of the buttons, can you guess which company belongs to each of them:

Example 1 (easy):

Example 2 (easy):

 

Example 3 (medium):

 

Example 4 (hard):

 

These awesome examples from Youtube designer Marc Hemeon, I think show the real power of colors more than any study could.

How many were you able to guess? (All the answers are at the bottom of this post!)

 

Which colors trigger which feeling for us?

Being completely conscious about what color triggers us to think in which way isn’t always obvious. The Logo Company has come up with an amazing breakdown which colors are best for which companies and why. Here are 4 great examples:

 

Especially if we also take a look at what the major brands out there are using, a lot of their color choices become a lot more obvious. Clearly, everyone of these companies is seeking to trigger a very specific emotion:

 

On top of that, especially when we want to buy something, the colors can play a major role. Analytics company KISSmetrics created an amazing infographic on the science of how colors affect our purchases.

          Especially the role of “Green” stands out to me as the most relaxing color we can use to make buying easier. We didn’t intentionally choose this as the main color for Buffer actually, it seems to have worked very well so far though.

          At second look, I also realized how frequently black is used for luxury products. It’s of course always obvious in hindsight. Here is the full infographic:

 

How to improve your marketing with better use of colors:

This all might be fairly entertaining, but what are some actual things we can apply today to our website or app? The answer comes yet again from some great research done by the good folks over at KISSmetrics.

If you are building an app that mainly targets Women, here is KISSmetrics best advice for you:

  • Women love: Blue, Purple and Green
  • Women hate: Orange, Brown and Gray

 

In case your app is strictly targeting men, the rules of the game are slightly different. Here it goes:

  • Men love: Blue, Green and Black
  • Men hate: Brown, Orange and Purple


In another amazing experiment Performable (now HubSpot) wanted to find out whether simply changing the color of a button would make a difference to conversion rates.

They started out with the simple hypothesis of choosing between 2 colors (green and red) and trying guess what would happen.

For green, their intuition was this:

“Green connotes ideas like “natural” and “environment,” and given its wide use in traffic lights, suggests the idea of “Go” or forward movement.”

For red, their thinking went like this:

“The color red, on the other hand, is often thought to communicate excitement, passion, blood, and warning. It is also used as the color for stopping at traffic lights. Red is also known to be eye-catching.”

So, clearly an A/B test between green and red would result in green, the more friendly color to win. At least that was their guess. Here is how their experiment looked like:

So how did that experiment turn out? The answer was more surprising than I had expected:

The red button outperformed the green button by 21%

What’s most important to consider is that nothing else was changed at all:

21% more people clicked on the red button than on the green button. Everything else on the pages was the same, so it was only the button color that made this difference.

This definitely made me wonder. If we were to read all the research before this experiment and ask every researcher which version they would guess would perform better, I’m sure green would be the answer in nearly all cases. Not so much.

I’ve also conducted dozens of experiments to improve my conversion rates through changes of colors. Whilst the results weren’t as clear, I still saw a huge change. One hypothesis is that for a social media sharing tool, there is less of a barrier to signup, which makes the differences less significant.

Despite all the studies, generalizations are extremely hard to make. Whatever change you make, treat it first as a hypothesis, and see an the actual experiment what works for you. Personally, I’m always very prone to go with opinion based on what I read or research I’ve come across. Yet, data always beats opinion, no matter what.

Quick last fact: Why are hyperlinks blue?

This is something that always interested me and is actually a fun story. It’s to give the best contrast between blue and the original grey of websites:

Here is the full explanation:

“Tim Berners-Lee, the main inventor of the web, is believed to be the man who first made hyperlinks blue. Mosaic, a very early web browser, displayed webpages with a (ugly) gray background and black text. The darkest color available at the time that was not the same as the black text was that blue color. Therefore, to make links stand apart from plain text, but still be readable, the color blue was selected.”

I think it is extremely fascinating that simply changing something as small as the color, can completely chance the outcome of something. What have been your findings in terms of colors and marketing? I’d love your ideas on this.

Solution to the riddle: Example 1: Facebook, Example 2: Google, Example 3: Flickr, Example 4: LinkedIn

If you have any comments please post them below.

 
 
Ken

Episode 44 – 10 Things Successful People Never Do Again

10 Things Successful People Never Do Again

Successful people never again…

1. Return to what hasn’t worked. Whether a job, or a broken relationship that was ended for a good reason, we should never go back to the same thing, expecting different results, without something being different.

2. Do anything that requires them to be someone they are not. In everything we do, we have to ask ourselves, “Why am I doing this? Am I suited for it? Does it fit me? Is it sustainable?” If the answer is no to any of these questions, you better have a very good reason to proceed.

3. Try to change another person. When you realize that you cannot force someone into doing something, you give him or her freedom and allow them to experience the consequences. In doing so, you find your own freedom as well.

4. Believe they can please everyone. Once you get that it truly is impossible to please everyone, you begin to live purposefully, trying to please the right people.

5. Choose short-term comfort over long-term benefit. Once successful people know they want something that requires a painful, time-limited step, they do not mind the painful step because it gets them to a long-term benefit. Living out this principle is one of the most fundamental differences between successful and unsuccessful people, both personally and professionally.

6. Trust someone or something that appears flawless. It’s natural for us to be drawn to things and people that appear “incredible.” We love excellence and should always be looking for it. We should pursue people who are great at what they do, employees who are high performers, dates who are exceptional people, friends who have stellar character, and companies that excel. But when someone or something looks too good to be true, he, she, or it is. The world is imperfect. Period. No one and no thing is without flaw, and if they appear that way, hit pause.

7. Take their eyes off the big picture. We function better emotionally and perform better in our lives when we can see the big picture. For successful people, no one event is ever the whole story. Winners remember that – each and every day.

8. Neglect to do due diligence. No matter how good something looks on the outside, it is only by taking a deeper, diligent, and honest look that we will find out what we truly need to know: the reality that we owe ourselves.

9. Fail to ask why they are where they find themselves. One of the biggest differences between successful people and others is that in love and in life, in relationships and in business, successful people always ask themselves, what part am I playing in this situation? Said another way, they do not see themselves only as victims, even when they are.

10. Forget that their inner life determines their outer success. The good life sometimes has little to do with outside circumstances. We are happy and fulfilled mostly by who we are on the inside. Research validates that. And our internal lives largely contribute to producing many of our external circumstances.

And, the converse is true: people who are still trying to find success in various areas of life can almost always point to one or more of these patterns as a reason they are repeating the same mistakes.

Everyone makes mistakes…even the most successful people out there. But, what achievers do better than others is recognize the patterns that are causing those mistakes and never repeat them again. In short, they learn from pain—their own and the pain of others.

A good thing to remember is this: pain is unavoidable, but repeating the same pain twice, when we could choose to learn and do something different, is certainly avoidable. I like to say, “we don’t need new ways to fail….the old ones are working just fine!” Our task, in business and in life, is to observe what they are, and never go back to doing them again.

If you have any comments, please post them below.

 

Ken

Episode 43 – Is Your Business Prepared For A Disaster?

 Is Your Business Prepared For A Disaster?

 

 

Last year I attended  four classes to prepare my business for a disaster. The class is being presented by the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce, Calhoun County EMA and the Cleburne and Calhoun chapter of the American Red Cross.
 

          You do not need to be a member of the Chamber Of Commerce to attend this course.

Here are some stats from the Red Cross:

40% of small businesses FAIL following a disaster

94% of small business owners believe a disaster could seriously disrupt their business within the next 2 years.

33% of businesses have NO Business Continuity Plan
 

          Being a small business owner, a former maintenance technician and volunteer firefighter I have had experience with disasters from different angles.
 

          As a firefighter we were continuously training to respond to disasters, touring large factories in our area to understand the concern areas and have a better understanding of the layout of the buildings. There were also a number of farms and fertilizer plants in the area that had their own issues. In some cases the best response to a fire is to let it burn. Seems strange but in the case of a fertilizer building fire the damage done by adding water far outweighs the fire damage to the building. This was all part of the emergency / disaster plan of the facility.  We were present at fires, car accidents, medical emergencies, and a host of other issues.

 

          My job as a maintenance technician required hours of preventive maintenance to avoid equipment failure. In the case of a failure the ability, knowledge, parts and equipment needed to get the facility running again were key to the successful operation of the plant. Many large businesses would never consider running without a trained maintenance staff to respond to equipment “disasters” but have little to no plan in place for an “external / natural” disaster.
 

          As many of my fellow small business owners know you were many hats during the day, Manager, Purchasing Agent, Marketing Department, Sales Person, Accountant, and Floor Sweeper. Adding Disaster Coordinator to the hat rack is about as exciting as an IRS audit.
 

          You may have a “plan” in mind to handle a situation as it comes up but does your staff or family have any idea if you are not available?
 

          Over the past few weeks in the area of Alabama that I live we had a couple of winter weather situations. I was coordinating my store operation by phone and text with my employees but we did have water pipes burst at two of my locations on different days. In one location I flooded my main store and storage room. The casualty at the end of the day was a couple of small items and the power supply for my printer. Fortunately when the pipe burst my employees were at the store.

 

          In the other location the neighboring store owner, who let me know about the leak as it came under the wall, had to call 911 to get someone from the Water Department to come and turn off the water. I had a cleaner at the store but they were unaware of the outside valve location and did not have access to the inside valve.
 

          The class being offered by the EMA is free. The meetings are 2 hours each, one per month for 4 months. Plus some additional time to do the Homework to get your plan together.

     Check with your EMA or local Chamber of Commerce about a class near you, or work with them to set one up.

 

Here are the links I mentioned in the video:
Red Cross ReadyRating.org
Tammy Bain- Calhoun County EMA- 256-435-0540.
TBain@CalhounCountyEMA.org

The Anniston Star Article can be found HERE

If you have any comments please post them below.

P.S Are you a business and need to improve your online presence? Maybe I can help START HERE

 

Ken