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Color Theory Applied to Digital Marketing: Design Principles for Marketers

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Color Theory Applied to Digital Marketing: Design Principles for Marketers

Color has been a fascinating subject for humanity throughout history. The first to dare to theorize about colors and their impact on people – a discipline that we now recognize as the psychology of color – was Aristotle (384-322 BC). The Greek philosopher affirmed that all Brazil Phone Number List are formed by four basic colors – the color of earth, fire, water and sky – and by the incidence of light on them. A few centuries later, the great Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) took those ideas and made a basic scale of colors – white, yellow, green, blue, red and black – to create his pictorial work. The artist stated that with this basic range all the colors perceptible to the human eye could be generated.

Later, those early theories of color were overthrown by the greatest scientist in history: Isaac Newton (1642-1727). The brilliant physicist laid the foundation for the theory of color that we accept today by establishing that color is actually the same light. His finding was produced by a simple and easy to recreate experiment: he took a ray of light and made it pass through a prism, thus he managed to separate the colors. Since then, we have understood the color and we own it!

Color is a vital necessity. It is an essential raw material for life like water and fire.
But understanding the origin and composition of colors was only the first step in the nascent color theory. Because after solving the physical aspects, the conceptual and psychological ones emerged. The question was no longer how to generate color, but to predict its impact on people. Here the next hero of our history appeared: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832). This German playwright was the first to oppose Newton’s purely physical treatment and gave a psychological twist to the subject with his treatise Theory of Colors , published in 1810. In this document, Goethe studied the modifications that color produces in the mind and the behavior of people. His main claim was that color also depends on perception – which involves sight and the brain. An absolute revolution for the time!

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From these studies, the triangle with the three primary colors was developed and the colors were related to emotions. All this thanks to research and analysis carried out by Goethe himself on the reactions of humans to colors. So his ideas became the cornerstone of current color theory. After Johann Wolfgang von Goethe came Eva Heller (1948-2008) – a sociologist, psychologist and professor of communication theory. She was in charge of adding depth to the subject and demonstrated that the impact of colors on feelings and reason does not occur accidentally. He also explained that the color-psychology association is not a simple matter of taste, but “the product of universal experiences that are deeply rooted in our language and in our thinking.”

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What is color theory?
As we read in that brief historical account, science has developed a complete field of study around color. Scientists and thinkers have spent years investigating color and its influence on Brazil Phone Number List people’s minds. All these investigations and conclusions are what today we call color theory.

So color theory is simply a guide that standardizes what we know about color: its definitions, its properties, its categorization, and its relationships and effects on the human brain. Color theory is an extremely useful compendium of arguments for the application of color in visual arts, interior design, graphic design, and of course marketing . Yes, marketing is one of the main beneficiaries of this research, since it has taken enormous advantage of the studies and has used them to make companies more assertive in the application of color to products, packaging, advertising, websites, points of sale and many other communication elements. Color is one of the main allies of marketing today to influence purchase decisions and to achieve a consistent increase in sales.

What is color theory for?
The short answer to this question is: not to leave any loose ends in the choice of color for marketing actions – because in business no color should be chosen at random. Everything that includes a color must have a sense and a rationale behind it supported by color theory. The colors that we use for the packaging of a product must be chosen with the principles of color theory. The colors of the points of sale or advertisements must be chosen under the premises of color theory. Why? Well, because it is proven that these colors affect people’s feelings and behaviors.

To do well in this area, marketers developed a methodology derived from color theory called: color strategy. It defines the way in which the business will appropriate color to relate to the market and the use that will be made of each element of its color palette. The color strategy will be in charge of charting the path and defining the use of color theory in favor of the communicational and commercial results of the company .

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The basics of color theory
Creating the business color strategy is the definitive step in appropriating color theory for marketing . But before taking that step, it is critical to understand the three fundamental aspects of the theory: (i) tone, hue, and lightness; (ii) the color wheel and (iii) the color modes.

Tone, hue and luminosity
Colors have properties, and hue, hue, and lightness are the three most important. Thanks to these properties, brighter, lighter, softer and darker colors can be created.

Hue is basically a synonym for what we really mean by the word “color” —for example, yellow is a hue. From a technical point of view, hue is the dominant wavelength of color. From a tone – or a color in its purest form – nuances can be created. These are achieved by adding white to the tone. Finally, luminosity is the other way to vary the tone. Of a color in its purest state, more or less luminous tones can be achieved by adding black. These three properties are then in charge of describing and standardizing a color. Each element in a color palette has hue, hue, and lightness. Chromatic circle The chromatic circle or the color wheel is the ordered representation of the visible colors according to their tone, hue and luminosity. As a concept, the color wheel is very old – there are records of its use from the 15th century. The traditional pattern — the one we know today — was established in the seventeenth century and is made up of primary, secondary, and tertiary colors.

The primary colors are yellow, blue and red, and they are the basis of the color wheel. They are called primaries because they cannot be created by combining two or more colors. The secondaries are those that are formed by combining two of the three primaries. The three main secondary colors are orange – a mixture of yellow and red -, purple – a mixture of blue and red – and green – a mixture of yellow and blue. Finally, tertiary colors are those that arise when combining a primary with a secondary one. Color modes The two previous principles are responsible for describing and categorizing color. This third focuses on the application of color. The two most popular color modes are: CMYK and RGB. The CMYK color mode takes its name from the initials in English of the colors that compose it: cyan, magenta, yellow – yellow – and black – key or black -. The CMYK color mode is a model based on color subtraction, because you have to subtract colors to get to white — and the more colors you add, the closer you get to black. This is the color mode used in lithographic arts.

The RGB color mode also takes its name from the initials in English of the colors that compose it: red – red -, green – green – and blue – blue -. This color mode is designed for screen work and is based on the color addition model. This means that the more color you add, the closer you will be to white. The use of color is an art that becomes a tool when it comes to marketing and business . The psychology of color By understanding the properties, categories, and ways of applying color, we can advance our purpose of building a color strategy for businesses. For this, the second step is to get into the stimuli that color produces in the human mind.

Color is the first thing that connects a person with a brand and is the starting point for creating a visual identity. The colors present in a business piece will be responsible for producing emotional responses in the consumer or user. This is why understanding color theory is critical! Each brand must be concerned with understanding the psychological impact of colors to anticipate people’s reactions and leverage those feelings for the benefit of the business. Psychology has realized that colors can produce positive or negative stimuli, create joy or sadness, and awaken passive or active attitudes. He has also found that some are warm and gentle and others are vibrant and energetic. Mixing psychological theories with the selection of colors can create an atmosphere of calm or revolution for brands, endow them with attitudes or predispose their customers. Next, we’ll review the most popular colors on the color wheel and share what psychology says about them.

Primary colors
The first primary color on the color wheel is yellow, a friendly and happy shade. Yellow is warm, friendly and optimistic, although it is also associated with red flags. In general, this color evokes joy and has a lot of connection to the childish side of the brain, being very vibrant and bright – McDonald’s knows this and uses it to the benefit of his business. Blue is serene and dependable. This primary color projects intelligence, calm and a lot of reflection. Its connection to the water and the sky makes it a calm and reliable tone, although it also makes it cold and devoid of intense emotions. Its gentle and safe effect makes it the ideal color for government and financial institutions and large corporations.

The third of the primary colors is red and it is very passionate, daring and warm. It is highly connected to masculinity and strength, although it also has a direct relationship to exuberance and arousal – its direct connection to blood makes it an aggressive and violent symbol. Red is a very attractive color to the eye, which is why marketers have used it to highlight elements in their commercial actions – the best example of its visual impact is its repeated use in store discount signs. Secondary colours Orange is the warmest of the secondary colors and is energetic, fun, and vital. In the mind, orange is associated with food and comfort. Its high temperature makes it perfectly connected with young audiences and has good visibility for the consumer’s eye — which is why many buttons on websites and applications use it.

Purple is spiritual, creative, and mysterious. This, the second of the secondary colors, is closely linked to royalty, wisdom and magic. It is a color that has a high feminine connotation – many fashion and cosmetic brands use it – and that connects perfectly with imagination and authenticity. Lastly, green is the most natural color on the color wheel. This secondary tone perfectly represents balance, awareness and harmony. Green has a deep relationship with the healthy concept and with the relaxation of the mind and the eye. In addition, green suggests a lot of stability and resistance in the messages.

Other colors
Black is the most sophisticated of colors. It is a tone that is used to reflect elegance and glamor . Black is also associated with mystery and the unknown. Its negative connotations make it a color rarely used in business, but when applied well it can give a touch of distinction to the brand. White, for its part, is virtuous and clean. It is the tone that best represents purity, simplicity and clarity. White is a calm color for people and has many spiritual associations. It is one of the most used colors in corporate color palettes and is present in most brands.

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READ THIS ARTICLE » Creating the color strategy If you have already passed the previous two steps – understanding the fundamentals of color theory and knowing the psychology of color – you can jump into the design of the color strategy. If you have not assimilated these aspects, we recommend that you continue studying, otherwise the strategy design process may fail. Creating the color strategy for business is an easy-to-follow procedure that consists of five tasks. We detail them below.

Choose the main color The starting point for the business marketing team is the choice of the main color. This priority color will carry all the communicational weight of the brand and will give life and representation to the corporate values. All brands have a main color! And your choice is a critical task for the future of the business. The selection of the first color in the palette should be based on three aspects: (i) corporate strategy, (ii) color psychology, and (iii) the market to which the business belongs. Organizational leaders should discuss the pros and cons of each color on the color wheel and choose the first item on the palette, then begin to surround it with a robust color strategy.

Create the color palette
With the primary color selected, the marketing team will be able to build a color palette according to the characteristics of that first color. To do this, it is advisable to rely on one of the many tools that exist today – such as Coolors or Adobe Color -. In them, the palette can be created from analog, monochromatic, triad or complementary colors. The idea is to pair the main with other colors to create harmonies and give diversity to the brand communication. Assign responsibilities to colors The third stage of the color strategy creation process is assigning a specific role to each of the colors in the palette. The marketing team already has the color that will play the main role; what follows then is to choose the role of the other colors that make up the palette. There must be a color to create emphasis, to nuance a message or to highlight the elements in the communications. Each color in the palette must have a reason for being and a use in the marketing actions of the business.

Associate values ​​to each color
In addition to responsibility assignments, the marketing team will need to match the colors on the palette with corporate values ​​and corporate strategy goals. What is the color that will be used in the business to communicate each theme or value —products, points of sale, corporate communications, among others—? That is the answer that is sought at this point in the construction of the color strategy. For example, the green of the palette will be used for sustainability themes or the red for promotions. Create a style guide Finally, after discussing and drawing conclusions in the previous four stages, the marketing team will have to create a clear document with precise instructions on the use of color in business. If the process was executed correctly, the team designers will have no doubts about which color to use for each message or circumstance.

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