How to design a banner ad – The Importance of Color
5 minutes read

Do you want to know what are the banner ad design best practices?

In this chapter we will talk about the importance of color in banner ads and how to use them to attract more clicks.

With 93% of consumers making shopping decisions based on visual appearance, color is not an aspect you should quickly dismiss.

What’s more, it helps to increase recognition, which is directly linked to consumer confidence by 80%.(source)

Color is a form of nonverbal communication, it can improve comprehension, reading and learning. Also, because it is a visual element, it is perceived and understood by the brain a lot faster than text.

So, how do you choose the best colors for your banner ad?

For starters, you can ignore all the general information about color. Don’t waste time with random articles that suggest that yellow expresses joy and red conveys passion or anger as there is no scientific proof for those associations.

The truth is that color depends too much on personal experience in order to be universally translated into specific moods or feelings. Language, personal characteristics, culture – all those get in the way of how we perceive colors. In turn, this makes it hard to predict how a large audience will react to a certain color.

Also, there are no good or bad colors as color starts to acquire meaning and significance only within context.

Particular colors work well in particular circumstances.

Else, there is no sufficient evidence to say that a certain color works better than another one, for example that green works better than blue.

Green works better than blue, but only in particular circumstances.

1. Color basics everyone should know

To know how to use color in banner ads, you need to know the tools you have at your disposal.

Colors can be classified in a few ways:

  1. Primary colors are red, yellow and blue in subtractive color mode. Any other colors can be obtained by mixing these.
  2. Secondary colors are obtained by mixing any two primary colors: orange (red and yellow), green (yellow and blue), purple (red and blue)
  3. Tertiary colors make the transition in the color circle between the primary and the secondary colors. They are obtained by mixing equal parts of a primary color with a secondary color.

According to their purity, colors can be:

  1. Tints – obtained by mixing pure colors with white, which increases lightness.
  2. Shades – obtained by mixing colors with black, which increases darkness.

Also, colors are divided into two main groups: warm colors (red, orange, yellow) and cold colors (blue, purple, green).

Types of color schemes:

  1. Monochromatic: Monochromatic color schemes use a base color with shades and tints for variations. It can be used to create a clean, organized look.
  2. Complimentary: complimentary color schemes are created by combining colors on the 180 degrees opposite side of the wheel, such as blue and orange. These have the highest contrast.
  3. Triad: this type of color scheme uses three colors that are equally spaced from each other around the color wheel. Creates a nice diversity and a good balance.


Using too many color in banner ads can make the visual and message confusing and hard to understand.

That’s why it is recommended that you choose a simple color pallette with two, three or four colors at most.

Also, research conducted by the University of Toronto shows that people preferred combinations of 2 to 3 colors.

2. How to select the right colors for your banner ad

There two main guidelines you need to follow if you want to know how to use the best banner colors:

  • Choose the colors that suit the context you want to build.
  • Choose colors that create enough contrast.

Like we said, color is a form of communication – you can use it to create a more persuasive and compelling image.

Think of the message you want to convey or of the personality, emotions and/or values you want to be associated with. Once you’ve decided on those, select the appropriate colors to reinforce them. If you want to convey happiness, go for bright, warm colors. If you want to say that you’re bold, it would be better to go for pure shades, red or yellow.

Remember that context matters and there is a perceived appropriateness for colors in particular situations. Trying to work around that can backfire in the way you’re perceived. You could try to use darker colors for happy situations for example to be different and stand out from your competitors. However, because of the perceived associations people have for colors, it will be harder to establish a clear image.

Another point you should keep track of is the cultural meaning of color. Take, for example, red. It is a happy color in most Western cultures, but in Japan it’s the color for mourning.

Also, consider your audience when selecting colors. While research for associating colors with feelings still needs to be conducted, it has been shown that colors are gender and age specific.

3. Color by gender

Research has shown that women and men have different color preferences. Both genders have a sound preference blue, but men tend to like it even more than women. On the other hand, purple is popular only with women.

When it comes to least preferred colors, orange and brown are at the top. With a subtle difference here too. Females prefer orange, brown and grey the least. Men, on the other hand, don’t like brown, purple and orange. Yellow is disliked almost the same by both genders.

4. Color by age group

Color preferences are not only gender specific, but they are also age specific. While there is a constant preference towards blue, preference for other colors starts strong and declines with age.

According to Birkin:

With maturity comes a greater liking for hues of shorter wavelength (blue, green, purple) than for hues of longer wavelength (red, orange, and yellow)

Further research has shown that color preferences are influenced by socio and cultural factors and hence change.

There is also a least preferred color for different age groups. Brown, orange and purple are again at the top across different age categories and they’re constantly there.

As people get older, their preference for yellow decreases as well.

5. Color contrast

Contrast is one of the basic principles in design, it can be used to highlight important information and to help users discern between elements. Also, colors won’t be effective if the contrast between the them is not strong enough.

That’s why it is recommended that you choose colors for your banner ad that have a good amount of contrast between them in order to make elements easy to recognize.

For example, let’s say that your banner background is blue. If you add a call to action button that is a darker shade of blue, chances are that it won’t be easily noticed. Go for a color that creates a good amount of contrast such as yellow or orange.

Also, pay attention to the amount of contrast between colors. Low color contrast might look beautiful, but it also makes text hard to read and users will need to work extra hard to discern all the elements.

On the other hand, high color contrast makes text easy to read, but don’t overdo it as it can get hard on the eyes after some time.

Here are the best banner ad tips when we talk about colors.

Chapter 1: Advertise For Your Target Audience

Chapter 2: The Anatomy Of A Banner Ad

Chapter 3: Design Principles When Creating Banner Ads

Chapter 4: What Visual Elements Use in Banner Ads

Chapter 5: How To Define Value Proposition


Chapter 7: The Power Of Call-To-Action In Banner Ads

Robert Katai
Robert Katai is the Product Marketing Specialist at Creatopy. His work was featured on Adweek, Entrepreneur, Marketing Profs, Content Marketing Institute and other places.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you Robert

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