By Jill Morton, color psychologist and branding expert

  • Three colors is the best number to use in single document.
  • One color grabs less attention than two; more than four detracts from message.
  • Yellow and black attracts more attention than any other color combination.
Color – it gets noticed. When used correctly, color will draw attention to your marketing collateral, signage and business documents. Often times, color selection is based on personal taste. Your favorite color purple could resonate well with Generation Y, but adversely with your older clientele – so making the wrong color choice can be bad for business. The right color choice, on the other hand, can have a dramatic effect in differentiating your business, improving the way work gets done and even generating revenue – sometimes even millions.

A Blue Text Worth $80 Million
The right color can be worth $80 million – at least that’s what’s been said about search engine Bing’s blue link. A few years ago, Microsoft ’s research team found that blue engaged people the most, so they tested various shades of blue in user groups – and determined that Bing’s previous shade of blue (a paler hue) lacked confidence. So, instead of reinventing the color wheel they used a shade of blue quite similar to the one used by Google. Based on user feedback, it is estimated Bing’s blue could generate $80 million to $90 million in advertising sales.

How to Find the Right Colors
To avoid the mistake of letting personal taste dictate color choice, there are three steps to determine the best color to improve retention, productivity and generate significant financial returns:

  1. Analyze the timeless psychological effects of a color. This is easier than it sounds. Start by thinking about the evolutionary roots of a color – the context of a color before civilization introduced contemporary meanings. For example, if you are creating a document about your company’s financial growth, green is a strategic choice because it was first associated with thriving vegetation and renewal. A document designed to convince customers that your company is trusted and dependable should incorporate blue — the color of the sky – the one constant in our life.
  2. Evaluate the traditional colors used in your business sector. The best way to do this is to make a list of well-known businesses or products in your area and review their color choices in logos and marketing pieces. Once you have some basic color use facts, consider whether these colors are overused. Next , focus on your target customers. Are your customers more conservative and therefore more receptive to the traditional colors? Can a radically different color palette inject new life into your business communication? Take this research into consideration when selecting your color choice.
  3. Consider an acceptable color alternative or a shift away from traditional colors. Some of the largest brands have made bold color choices. For example, look at H&R Block. It’s worth noting that H&R Block’s green broke the blue tradition for financial institutions and signaled a forward-thinking brand and fresh approach to their market. If you want to apply this to your business, consider whether a radical color will successfully communicate to your targeted audience. In some cases, “fun” colors – such as hot pink – might work to call attention to an upcoming sale or event, but if you take it too far, “shock and awe” colors might backfire.

Color accents are another way to achieve a distinct compelling color strategy.FedEx is a great branding example that demonstrates an understanding of timeless symbolism, alternatives and accents. The company selected a traditional green for their ground services and distinct red/orange for their faster and more powerful express services.

By keeping these three steps in mind, you’ll uncover a color logic that works for your business.

Remember, a little color shift or accent can have a powerful effect and could be your million dollar color.

 

This post originally appeared on Forbes