What Are the Colors of Online Marketing Success?

With the right color palette for your website, you’ll achieve online marketing success by drawing in a new audience

If you take a close look at the most visited sites on the Internet, you’ll see an interesting phenomenon: they all seem to use the same four colors.

It’s true. Many websites use the same basic color scheme with slight variations. Usually, those colors include blue, white, gray, black, and a color that pops. The last color could be yellow, red, or orange. White is the predominant background color with pale blue coming in second.

Could using the “right” color palette lead to online marketing success? Well, maybe. Nobody thinks Facebook took over the Internet because their site was blue. And Netflix hasn’t taken over digital video just because it’s red.

Choosing the right colors for your website and target audience is what’s important. Are you going to create a relaxed vibe? Do you want to make the viewers feel a sense of empowerment?


The color palette you choose unconsciously sets the tone for your audience. Not only will these colors lure your viewers onto your web page, but it will also be a kind of “mood ring” for them, too.

Think about some of the most popular websites today, and the ones you visit the most. Which one attained high online marketing success? What colors instantly come to your mind when you think of these pages?

A few examples for your reference

There’s no coincidence. Many of these sites use similar color schemes because their publishers have discovered which designs work best on the Internet for attracting visitors and keeping people interested. Or maybe they were flukes. What we do know is that if you’re currently in the process of picking colors, there’s a lot to know about what each one can tell your audience without any words necessary.

A popular website should attribute these colors to their online marketing success

1. White

White is predominantly the background on websites–because it represents simplicity. Think of Google. The home page background is all white, except for any text. There are no images (unless it’s a holiday), pop up ads, or any other overwhelming visuals. Google’s simplicity has attributed to its online marketing success. Easy access to the page invites internet users of all levels to visit and use Google.

You might have heard that Google just updated their logo last week, being touted as their “biggest change in 16 years.” But the one thing that hasn’t changed: it’s still the same multi-colored logo on a white background. The text shape has changed, but not the colors.

2. Gray

It may not be the most obvious color to pop out of the screen, but it’s certainly a crucial one to grab online marketing success. Gray supports a website, unlike any other color. It’s neutral, but it’s not completely blank (unlike white). Gray fills in the blanks and also compliments vibrant colors like red, yellow, green, etc.

3. Black

When you think of chic edginess and elegance, think of this color. When used properly, black makes a great counterpoint to white and gray because it, too, represents simplicity. However, unlike white, black draws in a heightened level of sophistication. Using it as a background color accompanied by very little details (a simple white font, maybe a neutral-colored border) is a classic online hit.

4. Blue

The color blue carries many meanings–depending on the situation. That could also be the case when used on the internet; however, it makes sense to say that blue is the color of relaxation and security for most websites. The majority of the social media outlets today (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) use blue as their main color of choice. Simply, it’s an inviting tone, which is partially why these social media websites have attained a staggeringly high rate of online marketing success. Blue’s calming tone attract more people to the website–it momentarily takes them away from their reality.

What you might not know about Facebook’s blue logo is that Mark Zuckerberg is colorblind to red and green, which is initially why he chose blue. However, a few years ago, Colour Lovers found that blue is the most popular color for the top 100 websites in the world. Red is in second place. All the way back in 2003, Wired ran a similar study that printed in their magazine and found the same exact results. Blue and red have been winning the Internet for a long time.

5. Red

Red reigns supreme as the most outstanding color (even if it’s only on a small fraction of the page). It makes sense that news related websites like CNN would use red as its main color theme because it emotes a sense of urgency and instantly draws attention. Red is a color that must be used carefully and tastefully, so readers aren’t turned off by reading the content that’s on the website.

One of my marketing heroes, Louis Cheskin, founded the Color Research Institute. Mr. Cheskin was the packaging genius who created the Gerber baby, designed the 7-Up label, and put the spoon on Betty Crocker packages.

He also made margarine yellow—it was previously white—and the McDonald’s arches golden.

Mr. Cheskin discovered that the four characteristics of colors—visibility, retention, preference, and association—are sometimes different for men and women.

For men, blue rates low in visibility and retention, but high in preference. Men associate blue with the words “reliable” and “intelligent.”

Do you think it’s any coincidence that IBM’s nickname is “Big Blue?”

However, for women, blue also rates low in visibility and retention, as well as low in preference. Women associate blue with the words “depressing” and “professional.”

Nevertheless, when asked, more people of both genders site blue as their favorite color.

Mr. Cheskin was fond of saying “perception is reality” and wasn’t interested in what customers thought about the packages he created. Instead, what was important to him was how colors and packaging made them feel about the product.

Food for thought: How do the colors of your website make your customers feel about your publishing company and its products?


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