Interpret the Rainbow

“Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.” – Pablo Picasso

In art, as stated by Pablo Picasso, colors go far beyond being the medium with which someone illustrates a picture. Colors are, more acutely, the medium with which an artist illustrates a message, a feeling, an emotion. As discussed in a previous post, psychology plays a huge role in designing an effective website. Understanding psychology enables a graphic designer to garner positive responses in the viewer’s subconscious, which directly effects the success of a website. A few key points on the psychology of web design that were mentioned previously included: engendering a feeling of trust, utilizing patterns, embracing minimalism, and, lastly, understanding colors. While every aforementioned design element is important, the proper implementation of colors on your website is absolutely crucial in fostering audience appeal.


When you think of Coca Cola what pops into your head first? Your answer most likely revolves around the red and white logo or the red and white bottling. What about Nike? The black and white swoosh. BP? The green and yellow flower. This could go on forever. The point is, colors help distinguish brand identities. Brands like Coca Cola, Nike and BP have successfully assimilated colors into their brand’s unique lexicon. Although it might seem simple to add any color to a logo to develop a memorable identity, creating a brand color scheme takes a very concerted effort. The colors always must match the personality of the brand. The company Seventh Generation has employed a green color scheme which appropriately represents their eco-friendly products. Ford predominantly utilizes blue in their branding, which evokes a feeling of trust and dependability—something that is very important when purchasing a vehicle. And who can deny the happiness felt when seeing McDonald’s golden arches. These logos might feel simple in nature, but they’re far more multidimensional when considering that each color chosen is designed to create a positive consumer reaction.

Colors and Gender

In addition to branding, appealing to gender through colors is a powerful marketing tool. There are definite color preferences between genders and many companies utilize this knowledge in their web design. For instance, many women regard purple to be their favorite color whereas men across the board do not. That’s why many women’s magazines (think People) or popular fashion websites (Free People) have purple undertones. In contrast, websites frequented by men will have colors such as orange, black and brown. This color scheme is incredibly overt with companies such as Home Depot. Additionally, women often prefer softer colors shades and hues where men are drawn to bold, bright colors. For a general brand, these differences might not be as pertinent to designing a successful website or logo, but for brands that rely heavily on the participation of a certain gender, these small differences can have a huge impact.

Color Complementing

With color branding and gender preferences explained, the next step is bringing these colors together and blending them seamlessly throughout a website. A good rule of thumb, as mentioned in the Psychology of Web Design post, is stick to patterns. Establish what colors are associated with specific page actions. This means having the menu bar as one color throughout, establishing a common background color, then complementing the background color with accenting colors. Using colors is a great, and easy, way to draw your viewer’s attention exactly where you want it to be focused on a webpage. Always keep a familiar color flow, or hierarchy, throughout your webpage and use contrasting colors to highlight Call-to-Action buttons or important information.

Colors evoke reactions and emotional responses. While some are obvious—yellow is often associated with optimism and warmth—and others are more subtle—grey, for instance, promotes a feeling of calmness—they all cause a subconscious reaction in the viewer. Developing a website that is hinged on the principles of color psychology is a definitive way to attract the positive response and recognition your company deserves.

Maddie Brennan

Marketing Associate

Maddie is a graduate of the George Washington University and currently works as a Marketing Associate at Innate Agency. She loves short walks on the beach (not a big fan of sand), ignoring sunsets and whispering loudly.

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