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How to Energize Your Marketing With Colors

by Michel Fortin

I was once asked, "In relation to colors on a web site, have you done any research or found any material on what colors are more pleasing to the site visitor, or even what colors tend to produce more sales?" I believe this could be an important area that many of us overlook.

First, all colors stem from two basic colors, namely red and blue. For example, blue tones are green, purple, violet, indigo, and of course blue. On the other hand, red tones are orange, yellow, pink, burgundy, an so on. (Browns or earth tones are basically a mixture of both.)

Now, the eye focuses on blue tones in front of the retina. As a result, blue tones move away from the eye or sight. Therefore, they are non-threatening and tend to make you feel drowsy. For instance, blue is a very good color if you wish to communicate professionalism, stability, relaxation, logic, etc. But red tones are focused behind the retina. Thus, by moving toward the eye, they tend to communicate aggressiveness, excitement, energy, and emotion. Hence, the expressions "I've got the blues" or "seeing the world through rose-colored glasses."

In the 70's, a program called "The Body Human" struck me in this regard. On one particular show, scientists conducted various tests regarding the psychological impact of colors. The first involved a weightlifter who was given a set of barbells -- if memory serves me correctly, they were about 200-250 pounds. While the exercise was surely not an easy one, the athlete seemed to have no problems in pumping the weights, even raising the weights over his head.

Then, a large red-colored card was placed in front of his face, covering his entire field of vision. But this time, however, he began to pump the weights as if they were feathers -- without any visible signs of physical strain. Things changed dramatically, however, when the red-colored card was replaced by a blue-colored one. Not only was the athlete no longer able to lift the barbells passed his torso, but you can also immediately tell that the level of physical exertion had increased quite a bit by merely looking at his face, arms, and legs.

Moments later, researchers switched back to the red-colored card. And incredibly, things apparently went back to normal. The lifter began to pump the weights with ease as if nothing happened -- let alone the fact that the change seemed also instantaneous. (While other colors were used in the test, the red and blue cards seemed to have made the greatest impact.)

On the same program, a red-lit hospital room was filled with cribs and colicky babies were placed in each one. While newborns naturally cry and particularly colicky ones, the red light seemed to have intensified their incessant weeping. Then, researchers turned the lights to a blue color. Amazingly and in almost instantly, the room went eerily quiet. And similar to the weightlifter test, when the lights went back to red they all started crying again -- as if on cue.

Now, with all this said, the answer to your question is: It all depends on what you're selling, on what you wish to communicate to your visitors, and in what tone or frame-of-mind in which you wish to place them. It has nothing to do with manipulation or some sort of subliminal imagery. Your colors are part of your message. And depending on which message you wish to convey, the colors you choose can either support, emphasize, or contradict your message.

I work mostly with professionals -- doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants, and the like. Blue tones are therefore their dominant colors. In the case of surgeons and dentists, for example, pain makes people nervous and blue therefore helps to calm them down. (By the way, this is the reason why most hospital and medical garment colors, beyond the traditional white, are light blue, dark blue, light green, violet, purple, and so on.) But if you are trying to get people excited and communicate an emotional message (for example, if you sell items related to sports, cars, games, money, weight-loss, motivation, etc), then reds are a good choice.

In short, remember that blues tend to signify logic while reds equal emotion. However, keep in mind that you can use both colors, depending on your goals or theme. A forinstance is the way villains and heroes are often portrayed in movies -- not always, but often. Villains often appear in dark reddish colors while heroes are in lighter bluish tones. Take the example of the latest Star Wars movie. The antagonist, "Darth Maul," is a devilish-looking character with red and black makeup while his nemesis, "Yoda," is the little greenish "Jedi Master."

For example, my site is dominantly blue. But a cosmetic surgeon's site I've recently designed is purple and pink (see http://www.drdubois.com). While pink is a reddish tone, it was used in this case to excite people about the potential changes in one's appearance. Self-esteem and beauty are emotions. And cosmetic surgery is more often than not an emotional choice.

Nevertheless, again it all depends on what you are trying to communicate. Colors (and their variants) each have their respective positive properties. It all boils down to the message.

[The above question and my answer were originally posted in the Internet Marketing Challenge private discussion board, where members can ask questions from a panel of Internet marketers (including yours truly). See http://SuccessDoctor.com/IMC/.]

About the Author
Michel Fortin is a consultant dedicated to helping businesses turn into powerful magnets. Visit http://SuccessDoctor.com to receive a free copy of his book, "The 10 Commandments of Power Positioning." He is also the editor of the "Internet Marketing Chronicles" ezine delivered weekly to 90,000 subscribers -- subscribe free at http://SuccessDoctor.com/IMC/.

Tags: Sales and Marketing



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