Why you need to start paying attention to colour blindness

Marketers have always been challenged to find new and innovative ways to reach consumers. Whether it is through your social media strategy, marketing campaigns, or content marketing, the way in which you connect with your customers will continue to evolve as trends and user needs change. But sometimes, all it takes is something small to create meaningful connections with your audience.


When designing new marketing campaigns, content accessibility for those with colour blindness is often overlooked. In this post, we discuss what colour blindness is, why it matters for marketers, and the do’s and don’ts when marketing for the colour blind community. We also provide tips for making your content more accessible for people who see colours differently.


How important is colour in marketing?

It goes without question that colour is a critical component of success in marketing. Your choice of colour gives your brand an identity and helps you stand out from your competitors. A study carried out by the Loyola University Maryland in 2011 found that colour increases brand recognition by up to 80%.


Brands and colour are inextricably linked because colour offers an instantaneous method for conveying meaning and message without words.

Jill Morton, Colour Psychologist, Colorcom | SOURCE: Color Matters


Colours also influence how your audience perceives your message as, according to the field of colour psychology, they have an effect on our emotions. They can affect the way we think and can compel us to take action, something that brands strive to do in an effort to drive consumer behaviour.


Our world is awash with a rainbow of colours, but certain shades can have a surprising impact on our ability to concentrate, our mood and even the flavours we experience.

Mark Ellwood, Editor-at-large, Robb Report | SOURCE: BBC


But the colours you decide to implement in your branding will not necessarily have the same impact on every person. Observe the six coloured plates pictured below – can you identify all of the numbers?



16 on colour blind test circle











29 on colour blind test circle











5 on colour blind test circle











2 on colour blind test circle











45 on colour blind test circle











7 on colour blind test circle











SOURCE: Colorlite


I can’t see any of the numbers. These discs are taken from the Ishihara test, one of the most common methods for testing for red-green colour blindness. As someone with colour blindness, I have experienced many situations where I have been at a disadvantage due to not being able to distinguish between certain colours. According to Colour Blind Awareness, there are estimated to be about 300 million people worldwide who are colour blind. That is almost the entire population of the US. By ensuring that your print and digital branding is accessible to a wider audience, you as a marketer have the power to support people who see colour differently and increase your customer base. So, what can you do?


Marketing for the colour blind community: do’s and don’ts


Colour blindness is often disregarded when designing for optimum user experience and accessibility.

Lizzy Hillier, Digital Graphic Designer, Visionable Global | SOURCE: Econsultancy


It is important to remember that people with colour blindness don’t rely on colour to navigate information – they require other cues. We have listed some tips and tricks on important points to consider and things to avoid when marketing with colour.


Do:

  • incorporate colour blindness in your design process for UI/UX, marketing assets and so on

  • be aware of the different types of colour blindness and which colour combinations are indistinguishable to a colour blind audience

  • use higher contrast colours to a create colour hierarchy that helps users navigate a webpage

  • use textures in your designs to help distinguish between colours

  • use text or symbols that contrast strongly against a coloured background


Photo with white text over the top

Photo with white text over the top but with a dark gradient so the photo colour is less prominent and the font stands out

SOURCE: Smashing Magazine


Do not:

  • rely on colour to convey a message as it could be lost to people with colour blindness

  • create colour-specific instructions, such as ‘Click the green button to submit’

  • assume colours alone will signal a specific emotional response, if at all – use additional text or symbols to convey your message

  • use vague colour descriptions like ‘red’ or ‘blue’ – add words like ‘dark,’ ‘deep’ or ‘pale’


Accessible content with meaningful impact

When it comes to marketing, appearance is everything. The colours you use in your advertising, your website, and your overall branding can have a big impact on how successful your marketing campaigns are. But what if your target audience can't even see those colours?


Remember that colour isn't the only way to convey information visually. Designers who are aware of colour blindness can create designs that are accessible to everyone by using shapes, patterns, and other visual cues in addition to colour.


Discover more resources around more inclusive practices:



Helpful resources:

www.colourblindawareness.org

www.colormatters.com/color-and-marketing

blog.hubspot.com/marketing/accessible-marketing

wearecolorblind.com

colororacle.org

wiki.documentfoundation.org/Marketing/Branding/Color_blindness_issues

www.w3.org/TR/UNDERSTANDING-WCAG20/visual-audio-contrast-contrast.html

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