The Science of Colors in Marketing


Have you ever wondered why Facebook is blue, or Coca-Cola’s logo is red? Color affects purchasing decisions, so read these pointers before you redesign your website.

Why is Facebook blue?



According to The New Yorker, the reason is simple: Mark Zuckerberg is red-green colorblind. Blue is the color he can see best.

That’s not highly scientific right? However, there are some amazing examples of how colors can affect our purchasing decisions.

After all, sight is the most strongly developed sense in most humans. It’s only natural that 90 percent of a product’s assessment is based on color alone.

How do colors affect us, and what is the science of colors in marketing? As we are trying to improve our product at my company, Buffer, it’s key to learn more about this. Let’s dig into some of the latest, most interesting research on it.


Which colors trigger which feeling for us?

The Logo Company came up with a breakdown of which colors are best for which types of companies and why. Here are four 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 emtion:




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.


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 primarily targeting women, KISSmetrics says:

  • Women love blue, purple and green

  • Women hate orange, brown and gray.

If you are primarily targeting men, the results are slightly different:

  • Men love blue, green and black.

  • Men hate brown, orange and purple.

In another experiment, HubSpot wanted to find out if changing the color of a button would affect conversion rates. HubSpot started out with two colors, green and red, and tried to guess which would be more effective.

HubSpot’s hypothesis for green:

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

HubSpot’s hypothesis for red:

“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.”

According to the hypotheses, an A/B test between green and red would result in green—the friendlier color—as the winner. Here is what the experiment looked like:


color guide


The result was surprising:

The red button outperformed the green button by 21 percent. Everything on the pages stayed the same, so it was the button color that caused the 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.

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.


One 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 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.



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