Color Psychology: How Does it Affect Your Visitors?
BY Kristen Friend
The way one individual or a group reacts to color is unavoidably subjective. Life experiences and personal preference will influence a person's feeling toward certain colors. But at the same time, colors can be used to evoke some predictable reactions and associations that can and should be put to work for your firm.
Color psychology is a complex science, one which people may spend their whole lives studying. It is something that we understand subconsciously when we choose the colors that surround us. It is why deep red dining room walls are more common than bright blue, and why muted earth tones are often seen in spas while bright primary colors adorn toy stores and playgrounds. But color choices in design and marketing can too often be influenced solely by personal preference, regardless of any inherit or conscious cultural understanding a person may have about color.
A potential client's reaction to color must be taken into consideration when developing marketing strategies. A single component of a marketing plan like a law firm's website may be the first and only contact a person has with the firm before they make a decision about who to call. In order to work, all pieces of a plan must be professional, evoke the right emotion and make a connection. Colors play an important role in making that connection.
Warm colors: Reds, oranges and yellows. Warm colors are emotional powerhouses, carrying both positive and negative associations. Incorporating warm colors into a design gives it an energy that may enhance your firm's brand personality in unexpected ways.
Red is a passionate color that can evoke a spectrum of emotions from love to anger. Deep reds are associated with power and prestige, but bright reds signal hazard or danger. Red can also effect people physically. Exposure to the color red has been show to raise people's heart rate, blood pressure and perspiration rate. In design, red can be commanding as an accent color but overwhelming if it comprises the bulk of a layout.
Attorneys who specialize in areas like personal injury or bankruptcy should be very cautious when integrating red into a brand persona. Clients in need of such services have already experienced or are currently experiencing physical, financial or emotional difficulties. Law firms reaching out to that clientele should keep in mind that they are already stressed and need to be presented with materials that calm and comfort them while instilling confidence in your firm's ability to solve their problem.
However, as a symbol of power, red can be beneficial for firms specializing in areas like business law or criminal law. Used wisely, it can convey a sense of authority and strength. In these areas, the emotions associated with deeper reds may actually be reassuring to prospects, helping prompt them to call your firm.
Orange is a color of energy and vitality, associated with many naturally occurring things from the bright orange of a piece of fruit to the deep orange of leaves in autumn. It has much of the energy of red without the emotional baggage. Like red, it is generally best used in moderation. But as a neutral warm color, it can be incorporated well into many law firm brands from personal injury to immigration to estate planning with equal efficacy.
Yellow, like red, is a color with a split personality. It can be associated with creativity and sunshine but also with caution. In design, yellow is most often a happy, positive color. Bright yellow can give clients the sense your firm is willing to innovate and implement new or creative solutions.
Lighter yellows convey a sense of comfort or ease while deep yellows and golds a sense of permanence and wealth. Bankruptcy or family law attorneys may benefit from using yellow to portray happiness and the idea of a fresh start. Deep yellows and golds may be good for firms specializing in elder law or estate planning. Deep golds tell potential clients their needs will be met for a lifetime.
Cool colors: Blues, greens and purples. Cool colors, while more subtle, can be just as powerful as their warm counterparts. Secondary cool colors, like greens and purples, are made by combining a cool color with a warm color. Because of this, secondary cool colors can pick up some of the traits of the warm color contained with them.
Blues and purples convey many of the same meanings, but blue is by far a more popular color. It is one of the most commonly used colors in law firm branding. This is due partly to its versatility and partly to the ideas it represents. Blue is calming, and therefore good for emotionally charged practice areas. Blue is also grounded, representing responsibility, stability and power. Since it is so widely used in corporate branding, blue also carries a sense of professionalism and experience. Purple, the color of royalty, has more energy than blue while similarly conveying ideas of strength, power and wealth.
Blue is versatile because its different shades and hues can be used to communicate widely different messages. Darker blues may give a corporate attorney's brand the right combination of power and professionalism while lighter blues can have a peaceful, reassuring quality that is good for firms involved in special needs planning. Blue is popular for a reason, so when using it consider employing hues and shades creatively to give your firm an extra edge over the competition.
Green is, quite literally, down to earth. It is a natural color that can be used to represent freshness and growth as well as stability. Like blue, green is calming, and dark greens convey an even stronger sense of wealth and stability. But unlike blue, green carries with it the energy of the yellow it contains, lending it an air of creativity and happiness. Bright greens are popular in modern design, and can be used to tell clients your firm is forward looking and willing to take a fresh approach to solving legal problems.
No color is absolutely perfect for one practice area or absolutely forbidden for another. Sometimes it is best to use colors that are unexpected, drawing attention to your firm as unique and making a memorable impression. But the best way to break the rules is to understand them first. A good appreciation of color theory and how it can work for or against your firm will open new possibilities for positioning your firm at the top of your field.
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