18 min read

Choosing the Right Color for Your App

app color

The famous painter Pablo Picasso once said – Colors, like features, follow the changes of emotions. All of us have, at one time or another, felt the effect that colors have on our mood, feelings and emotions. Color psychology, they call it. And although there is far too little hard evidence or research done on the real effects of colors, color psychology has become somewhat of a hot topic in marketing. We talked to our designers about their experiences and we bring you some advice on choosing the right color for your ShoutEm app.

Ever wondered why some online visuals are in red? What would attract you first – a white “Buy today” button or a red one? Did you know that 92,6 % of people say that the visual dimension is the number 1 factor affecting their purchase decision? Another interesting study found that magazine readers recognize full-color ads 26% more than black and white ads.

There is a whole other philosophy about colors and their effect on modern-day marketing. We have written about new trends on UX in mobile apps and now we would like to talk to you about what color would work best with your new Shoutem app. After discussing it with our designers, they have given us some insight into how to choose the right color for your app and what to watch out for.

What is the most important element of your app?

We were wondering at what pointers a first-time app builder needs to have in mind. “In the case of visuals, one must make sure that they are big enough and well-aligned with other app elements. Be sure to check your changes in real-time – on your phone. And as for colors, if you are new to app design and colors in general, there are a lot of useful websites, such as Colourlovers, that you can check out before you choose the right color to create a mobile app” says Siniša.

Marko agrees, pointing out the best and simplest way you want to present what your application stands for: “Get your visuals down to a minimum and focus on the most important element of your app. And of course, make it user friendly!”

How to get inspired?

If we look at what’s popular now in the online world, we will notice a flat approach to design. “Flat design has been getting more and more popular, and now there are colors that match that design called pastel colors.” But if you get lost in the vast sea of colors, Marko suggests Color Expert – a cool iPhone app that can help you get that much-needed inspiration. Dribbble is also a great helper when choosing new, popular colors for your app.

The psychology of colors and how they relate to persuasion is one of the most interesting aspects of marketing and yet there is far too little data on how that really works. One research shows the idea that the colors yellow and purple can cause certain kinds of emotions as accurate as a Tarot card reading.


But one fact remains the same – even though colors play a large and important role in purchases and branding, the effect is too dependent on personal experiences. In another interesting study called Impact of Color in Marketing, researchers found that up to 90% of judgments about products are based solely on colors. Having that in mind, the relation between brands and colors now relies on perceived appropriateness for the color used by a brand – in other words, does the color fit with the product being sold?

Strong colors versus neutrals

Both Siniša and Marko agree in the same manner – the color must follow the brand or the product itself. “For instance, if the app is about chocolate, I will definitely use certain shades of brown or other colors that could correlate with what the app represents,” Marko adds.

Siniša advises staying in the range of neutral colors so you can emphasize content first, especially if you are making an app for sales and business arrangements.

Digging into the subject even further, we came across an interesting infographic from KISSmetrics with some insights on the color used for a website or an app. The research says that if you are building an app that mainly targets women, you should consider blue, purple, and green colors. Avoid orange, brown, and gray as they are stated as the least liked colors by females. Men on the other hand love blue, green and black but hate orange, brown and purple.

An interesting color test was conducted by HubSpot when they wanted to find out if a simple color change of one button could impact conversion sales. The result was very surprising. Changing only the color of the button titled Get started now! from green to red, and everything else on the page being completely the same, it was discovered that the red button outperformed the green one by 21%.

The importance of colors

Humans have been conditioned for millions of years to associate different colors with specific emotions or behaviors. Understanding those associations can be more than beneficial for your business. Colors are an influential tool. If you use them wisely, you can get to your customers and trigger their reaction that will move them closer to the action.

Colors have changed as well and their meanings are not universal, even though we might think so. Here are some aspects where colors differentiate a lot:

  • Culture: In China, for example, the color red represents good luck, while in South Africa it is a color of mourning. Mourning is often associated with the color black, but in some countries, it is represented through the color white, which is often understood as a color of hope and purity. Be mindful of these cultural differences if traveling.
  • Time: As we evolve, so does the understanding and meaning of colors change. Red used to be seen as strong and masculine color, while blue was a feminine color suited for girls. We know that today, that interpretation no longer stands as valid.
  • Shades and tones: A color may have a general meaning, but lighter shades can vary dramatically compared to darker shades, while more natural, muted shades will differ from artificial neon colors.
  • Color combinations: Some colors just don’t work together. On the other hand, some are best friends. They can enhance each other, make each other stand out, blend together, or fight each other. Learn which colors go together with color theory.

Brand’s color and brand’s personality

Based on further research on colors and branding, almost all academic studies agree that it’s far more important for the brand’s color to support and co-relate with the brand’s personality. The feeling, mood and image that the brand creates play a role in persuading the user to buy. Colors play a role when they are used to match the brand’s image with the product. Marko mentions Apple and their love of clean and simple design – the appropriate color for their message is white.

By using the same color across all your business ventures, you strengthen your brand personality and what it represents in the marketplace. Most common areas where your branding colors will emerge:

  • Logo
  • Website
  • Storefront
  • In-store design
  • Staff uniforms
  • Advertisements

The Meaning of Colors

Colors affect human psychology in various ways. Colors have energy that they radiate, affecting our emotions, behaviour, and mood. Let’s explore meanings of colors and see how you can use them in your business.

Red color meaning

red color

The color red is the color of the passionate, bold, adventurous, and energetic.

  • Positive traits: power, passion, energy, fearlessness, excitement, desire
  • Negative traits: danger, anger, warning, defiance, aggression, pain

Choosing the color red leaves an impact in one way or the other. Red triggers emotions easily and it is associated with beautiful motives like love. On the other hand, blood comes to mind as well so it works on both sides of the emotional scale.

The color red is effective in sales as it creates a sense of urgency. “Buy Now” buttons are often marked red, as well as subscribe button, sign-in button, or any other button that leads to customers’ action. YouTube and Netflix use such call-to-action buttons to attract their customers. The color red stands out from everything else so you can’t miss it.

Science has proven that the color red enhances your appetite. Think of all popular restaurants and fast-food chains that use the color red in their color scheme, logo, website, or even interior. McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King, Wendy’s, and Pizza Hut are just some examples.

Another great example of the usage of the color red is Coca-Cola, one of the most famous drinks in the world. They combined their brand and logo in their marketing campaign with the red suit of Santa Claus, creating a specific brand that is associated with holidays, family, and positive feelings. That campaign has skyrocketed Coca-Cola to the top of every chart.

The color red can often be found in high-energy products like caffeine drinks, fast cars, and sports.

red color logo

Orange color meaning

The color orange is the color of the adventurous, optimistic, competitive, and creative.

  • Positive traits: courage, confidence, warmth, innovation, friendliness
  • Negative traits: deprivation, frustration, immaturity, ignorance, impatience

Just as red, orange grabs your attention but it is not as alarming as red. The orange color represents that something requires attention and stimulates action. It is often used in the traffic industry for signs, traffic cones, and high-visibility clothes.

Using orange in your business generates the feeling of friendliness and warmth as it is often associated with the sun. Some other associations might include health and vitality because it shares the name with the popular fruit (and a town in Australia). Its bright, fun, and light energy is suitable for non-corporate brands.

If you have a youthful, creative, and positive brand that wants to be different, the color orange might be one of your choices. However, it is considered “cheap” by the community which is reflected in the fashion industry where it is barely used.

You can find orange in the logos within the fitness industry, logistics, and tech. Some popular brands that carry the color orange with pride include Nickelodeon, Fanta, Gatorade, and Harley-Davidson which is anything but cheap.

orange logos

Yellow color meaning

yellow color meaning

Yellow is the color of the independent, strategic, creative, and intellectual.

  • Positive traits: optimism, warmth, happiness, extraversion
  • Negative traits: irrationality, fear, caution, cowardice

Choosing the color yellow indicates that your brand is warm, optimistic, and positive. Yellow stimulates intellectual curiosity and makes learning easier as it affects the logical part of the brain, stimulating mentality and perception. Yellow is also associated with economic spending and resourcefulness.

For that reason, it is logical that National Geographic uses exclusively yellow in their logo.

Yellow is a great friend with darker colors so use it as an ally with some darker options if you can. As it fades into the background easily, make it stand out by combining it with dark colors. One popular option is a combination of colors black and yellow. An example of that would be Ferrari or IMDb.

Yellow is used in various industries and it speaks more to the personality of the brand rather than the type of brand and industry.

yellow logo design

Color green meaning

green color

Green is the color of the open, friendly, balanced, and authentic.

  • Positive traits: health, hope, freshness, nature, growth, prosperity, luck
  • Negative traits: boredom, stagnation, envy, materialism, judgment

When you think of the color green, one surely starts thinking about nature, plants, and trees. It is the color of rebirth, regeneration, and renewal. Eco-friendly brands always have green in their logos. The organic products, sustainable businesses, and health industry often feature green in their business visuals.

The color green is relaxing for the eyes. According to color psychology, green balances our emotions and leaves us feeling safe and secure.

On the other hand, green is often associated with materialism and power, especially in the United States of America. Dollars and military uniforms are some examples of green elements that are understood worldwide.

Industries, where green is most prominent, are military, banking, and anything related to ecology, health, and fitness.

We mentioned growth as well. Green represents forward motion and often luck. The phrase “to get the green light” means exactly that – to get permission to move forward.

green brands

Blue color meaning

blue color for apps

Blue is the color of the loyal, respectful, responsible, and social.

  • Positive traits: trust, loyalty, dependability, logic, serenity, security
  • Negative traits: coldness, emotionless, unfriendly

The color blue is many people’s favorite color. The stereotype that blue is the color for boys doesn’t stand as it is liked by females as well. It is the most popular color in the world, both as a personal preference and in the business world.

Blue is the color of relaxation and ease. It is assumed that the color blue has therapeutic effects as it gives us the feeling of security and reliability. It is the color of reason and calmness, emphasizing the qualities such as trust, wisdom, and strength.

Due to that, many companies prefer blue for their visuals. The research has shown that blue seems to be the winning color, showing up in 33% of the top 100 brands. Businesses want to present their company as serious, reliable, and trustworthy. That is especially important for banks, health & insurance companies, and tech companies.

Just to exemplify this further, here are the examples of successful and known businesses that accepted blue as their color:

  • IT: Intel, IBM, HP
  • Finance institutions: Visa, PayPal
  • Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Zoom
  • Health: United Healthcare, GE Healthcare

blue design

Purple color meaning

purple meaning

Purple is the color of the sensitive, dignified, and understanding.

  • Positive traits: wisdom, wealth, spirituality, imagination, sophistication
  • Negative traits: reflection, decadence, excess, moodiness

Purple is associated with exclusivity, luxury, and prestige as it was represented by royalty in the past. We can say it was a rich color and only a few could wear it or possess it. In the past, it was rare as well and it was expensive as it was sourced from one species of sea snail. It took 10.000 snails to produce just a single gram of dye. It was that expensive. Nowadays, we have plenty of it as we found a way to produce it synthetically.

Purple is a mix of red and blue (the two most popular colors) so it combines their characteristics as well, making it special again. It carries the passion and energy of the red with the calm and serenity of the blue.

Purple is a mix of red and blue (the two most popular colors) so it combines their characteristics as well, making it special again. It carries the passion and energy of the red with the calm and serenity of the blue.

For some reason, purple is still not among favorites when logos are in question. Some companies chose purple for their visuals though. Milka, FedEx, and TacoBell embraced purple as their main color.

purple design

Magenta color meaning

pink and magenta

Magenta, also known as pink is the color of the innovative, practical, compassionate, and kind.

  • Positive traits: imaginative, passionate, caring, creative, playful, and emotional
  • Negative traits: timid, immature, unconfident

In western countries, magenta is usually referred to as the “color for girls and women” as it signifies femininity, beauty, fragility, and romance. It gives a dose of inspiration and is youthful when combined with other colors.

However, despite being so comforting, magenta is not companies’ first choice when they pick a color palette for their products. It is mostly used as a secondary color, adding its touch to the overall brand. On its own, it is a bit lackluster, especially if it is directed to an exclusively female audience.

Magenta dominates in beauty products and toys. The best example of that is Barbie, a worldwide popular brand of dolls. Wedding companies like using white in combination with pink in their color palette as well.

pink brands

Brown color meaning

brown color

Brown is the color of the reliable, stable, grounded, and focused.

  • Positive traits: warm, practical, friendly
  • Negative traits: old-fashioned, rugged, timid, boring

Brown is the color of nature. It symbolizes Earth and the core of our planet. Nature and trees are a symbol of stability. Some would say that being grounded is boring, others will see it as an admirable quality.

Even though brown and shades of brown are common in our everyday lives, it is one of the rarest colors in logo and icon design. It is the color of tradition and heritage, so some would call it old-fashioned or outdated. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop Louis Vuitton to use brown as their primary color in some of their logo designs.

You can find brown in combination with green in many eco-friendly brands capturing that organic, healthy feel. The other instance where brown dominates is in the chocolate and coffee industries for obvious reasons.

Brown is underrated and not often chosen for the branding color palette but it can be a nice addition and touch for the greater picture. Just as magenta, elevates the message of the brand if you decide to include it in the visual concept of your brand.

brown color palette

Black color meaning

black color meaning

Black is the color of the decisive, confident, and serious.

  • Positive traits: sophistication, elegance, security, power, authority, substance
  • Negative traits: oppression, coldness, evil, mourning

We’ve all heard that someone looks elegant in black, but also someone is being criticized as being too safe when wearing black. In fashion at least, black sends multiple messages, but everyone can agree that it is the color with an attitude. It is a synonym for power and luxury.

It is bold, powerful, and in a way mysterious what makes it perfect for modern brands. The simple but professional and sleek design is what many companies go for today. It radiates with professionalism and seriousness.

It is often used for typography in logo design because of its qualities and visually arresting dark hue what makes it stand out in any background. Black is very common in any color scheme.

The most popular combinations of black with other colors are:

  • Black + Red = power and ambition 
  • Gold + Black = exclusivity (Moët)
  • Black + White = professionalism (Nike)

It is often seen in the fashion industry, automotive, and finances.

black logo brands

Gray color meaning

color gray

Gray is the color of the practical, relaxed, stable, and those in control.

  • Positive traits: mature, formal, dependable
  • Negative traits: overly conservative, conventional, lacking emotions

Gray emits a mature vibe alongside stability and seriousness. Sometimes it is seen as reserved, and overly cautious. Nevertheless, it is a soothing and relaxing presence, not being too strong on the eyes. It doesn’t attract attention like some other colors but gives a nice touch to the brand as a whole.

In the app design, it is mostly used when you want to communicate the authority and stability of a corporate institution.

Despite being criticized as safe and bland, many famous brands have gray in their color palette, if not as a primary color. The ones that stand out on that list are Nintendo, Swarovski, and of course Apple.

color design gray color

White color meaning

white color

White is the color of the optimistic, independent, and innocent.

  • Positive traits: innocence, purity, cleanliness, simplicity
  • Negative traits: sterile, empty, plain, cautious, distant

White represents the true balance of all colors and it is associated with cleanliness, purity, and perfection. White is everyone’s best friend as it works with all colors and is great for creating elements that visually stand out. Works wonderfully in any color scheme.

In combination with black, it radiates professionalism, while on its own it is considered simple, yet elegant. The minimalistic aesthetics that white provides is perfect for wedding companies, tech, and medicine.

Such a minimalistic approach to design is not a rare occurrence at this point. As many companies choose to be over the top, sleek and simple design with white as the dominant color in the color palette is a great choice. Sometimes, less is truly more.

white color brands

One thing stands clear – there are no clear sets of guidelines for choosing the right color for your brand, website, or an app, but your focus must be on the brand itself! Follow the brand or app image, and the color will come to you!

mobile app builder
Choosing the right color for your app – in a nutshell