Studies show that 93% of people make purchase decisions based on visual appearance. This means that the way you design your emails has a direct impact on your online sales revenues.
And colors play a huge role in the way your email message is perceived. Psychology research has proven that different colors can deeply affect people on a subconscious level: color can impact our moods, feelings, and can even alter our behaviors.
In this blog post, we will take a deep dive into the use of color in email design while providing email examples that illustrate the power of color in design.
The meaning of colors
Color perception is first and foremost conditioned by our culture and personal experiences.
For example, the color red is
For example, the color purple symbolizes wealth and royalty in western countries while it represents death and morning in Latin America.
This is why it’s crucial to understand the underlining meaning of the main colors before using them in your email designs.
Here are what the most commonly used colors tend to mean, with a few ideas thrown in for how best to capitalize on their positive connotations.
Black is the color of boldness and power. Think of how often you see a business executive power-dress by wearing a black suit and tie.
Conversely, black can also be the color of mystery or unhappiness. In most cultures, people wear black during funerals to express their sadness and morning.
In email design, black is mostly used during Black Friday. As its name suggests, the shopping holiday inspires designers to turn to their dark side.
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Other luxuary brands use black in their email designs all year round, and more precisely, black and white color combinations. This adds a tone of sophistication and minimalism to the email.
White is the color of peace and purity. People tend to associate white with heavenly beings, innocence, and clean slates.
However, white is the counterpart of black in Asian cultures. Worn in funerals, white represents death and morning in Eastern and Asian cultures.
In email design, we often see the color white in the background. It’s also essential to add a little breathing room between different email blocks – what we call White space.
As seen in the email example below, the color white allows for the email copy and product images to stand out.
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Red is a color that evokes powerful reactions – and not just from bulls in Spain. As both the color of love and passion as well as the color of rage and impulse, the meaning of red as a color is often aided by its context – other colors around it, and which items exactly are colored red.
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A heart colored red definitely means different from a pool of red blood. Set the tone and they will know where you’re headed with your color choice.
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But mainly, red is the color of Christmas!
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Blue is the color of calm and serenity. It’s also the color of melancholy and productivity.
This is definitely a color that makes people relax and take things slow. Whenever you want people to chill and not panic while reading you, blue is an easy option.
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Blue is also associated with male-oriented products.
Green is the color of nature and safety. At the same time, it’s also the color of envy, hence the term “green with envy.” When you use green, people know what you’re going for right away. Looking to throw a hint about nature or life? Green is the way to go.
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Yellow is the color of the sun, thus alluding to ideas of brightness, warmth, and energy. It’s a very lively and inviting color. It’s bright captivating nature makes it a perfect color for flash sales.
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And when used properly with red usually works great when talking about food.
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Purple is a color associated with nobility and royalty. It also tickles one’s sense of mystery and imagination. Want to come across as wise and spiritual? Purple gets that across. Think about the best-looking purple clothes. They’re usually worn by royalty or religious figures. If you want to convey a sense of prestige, the judicious use of purple helps.
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Brown, much like green, also evokes feelings of nature. Brown is also viewed as the color of strength, isolation, and security. When you see brown soil, you feel secure, since you can see the full lay of the land without the green grass getting in your line of sight. It may come across as drab and boring sometimes, but that’s because it’s reliable and the color of independence. Using brown in large amounts is not recommended.
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Lastly, pink is not only Aerosmith’s favorite crayon, it’s also the color of romance, kindness, calm, and nurture. Since the 1800’s, pink has been a more feminine color, and with that came all the classic connotations that came with it. A brighter tone is considered bold and refreshing, though, and nowadays, bucking the gender role with creative uses of pink leads to a very eye-catching EDM.
It’s important to understand that any given color has different meanings, and the best way to get the desired one from people is to contextualize properly. This is why colors rarely come on their own when it comes to a well-made EDM.
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How to create your email’s color palette
Unless you deliberately decide on monochrome, your email color palette should not stop at one color. A range of 2 to 5 colors tends to work best, and often with specific uses.
In this section, we will share a few techniques to help you choose the color palette that best fits your email.
Use your brand colors
Brand colors should be your primary point of reference. Brand guidelines are created to be respected and ensure brand coherence across channels and campaigns.
Using the same color palette in your email designs helps build up brand awareness in your subscribers’ minds. This makes it easier for them to recognize your brand without even needing to read the email message or check the brand logo.
In this example below, you can see how across four different email campaigns, the brand Everlane maintained the same color palette and design style.
Same goes for Function of Beauty:
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Holiday-themed color palette
Another easy go-to is of course well-known and popular color combinations, such as bright red and bright green for that typical Christmas feel. You can look up a wide range of known color combinations and use them to your advantage.
Multiple shades of the same color
You can also go with multiple shades of the same color to keep harping on the main emotion you want to draw from your readers. It’s also a fast and easy way to create a clean professional-looking email design.
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Use contrasting colors
Contrasting colors, or complementary colors, are colors from the opposite sides of the color wheel.
Using contrasting colors in your email designs gives your email an energetic feel and makes your content pop. It’s the perfect choice for a fun-email targeting younger audiences.
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It’s fascinating, but it’s also challenging. You could just spend hours upon hours getting lost in color theory. You could even spend more hours just debating exactly how effective they are. What we know, though, is that a well-made email template gets results, and color is an important aspect of it.