I am not a graphic designer. I am not a marketing guru. I am not a color snob. However, I did run across a really interesting reverse image search that made me think about how colors are associated with everything we do on the web. From the Twitter bright blue or Facebook‘s dark blue to the Microsoft Red, Green, Yellow and Blue, to Google‘s slightly different Red, Green, Yellow and Blue; we associate every click with a color. We even understand what can be linked together by having the underlined navy color present on a page. There are rules about such things. The ways in which colors are used on the web influence the ways in which we act.
So, my question becomes, how is color training us to be active participants on the web? How is it asking us to collaborate? How is it pacifying us? How does it cause us to consume more or work less?
As someone who is in no way qualified to answer some of these questions, I feel like I should start with something specific. Let’s take the examples of color that I mentioned: Twitter blue and the four colors of Google.
The following are companies who all use some form of the Four Colors of Google for their brand:
- The Olympics (with black added in, but I think it still counts)
What do these companies and organizations have in common, and why would they all choose to go with a four color logo that seems to have been designed with the same aim in mind? My feeling is that these four colors represent a standard of quality. These four colors represent something that people will want to put their trust in. They say to anyone who wants to look that the company in question takes all kinds and then strives to be the best at one thing (at least one thing, that is). These colors have been embedded into the fabric of the web as the face of leadership (or at least the hope of leadership, in the case of Joomla and Kestrelflyer). I find myself gravitating toward these services precisely for this reason, even if subconsciously.
Now, Twitter blue represents something else entirely. Here is a smattering of companies who want to be associated with that color:
- Skype (it was a darker blue a few years ago, though)
- Portal (for xBox)
- Today’s Parent Magazine
Each one of these companies wants to be thought of as something new, something fresh. Each one is looking to make a name for itself in a different space. They may not share a lot in common in terms of the technologies they employ, but each one is looking to be recognized, to stand out from a crowded field. The Twitter blue has come to mean all of these things as it continues to expand just what is possible with “the new.”
While we may not be able to derive any definitive conclusions about the way that color affects our overall habits on the web, I believe that we are being trained by the use of color to feel certain emotions and to react in a certain way based upon the colors that are chosen for a brand. This may not be anything new to a graphic designer or marketing guru, but it is certainly a revelation for me in thinking about my own habits online.
While content is important, as is service and quality; in an increasingly visual world, we must take into account all of the types of persuasion being pushed at us. Color included.
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