How to Choose Colours for Your Banner Ad?

November 27, 2019

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Have you ever wondered what significance colour has when you make banner ads? If not, it’s a good idea to start, and we’d like to help you on your way. You can therefore read below how to choose the best colours for your banner advertising.

Colours can be said to be a form of non-verbal communication and they therefore help to improve reading, learning and understanding. In addition, the brain understands colours faster than text. Studies also show that 93% of consumers make buying decisions based on visual appearance. Colours are therefore not something you should take lightly, because the visual helps to increase recognition by as much as 80% (1).

It is also important to choose the right colours for your banner advertisement so that you target the right audience.

Choose the best colours for your banner ad

You are probably thinking that you have already heard a lot about colours and what feelings they evoke. But here’s a new piece of advice: forget everything you’ve learned!

Red does not necessarily mean anger, nor does yellow always mean happy — there is certainly no scientific proof of this.

It all depends on the eye of the beholder.

Experiences, language, culture, and personal characteristics all play a role in the way we understand colours. It can therefore be difficult to say that a colour describes one particular state of mind or feeling. And since a colour can mean several different things, depending on who is looking at it, it’s hard to predict how a larger audience will perceive your choice of colours (2).

Are there such thing as “good” or “bad” colours, you ask?

No, there isn’t. Because what’s at stake here is the context in which the colour is put, and that is why it is important. There is also no evidence that, for example, red works better than green, but red might work better in certain contexts than green would.

Choosing colours for your banner advertisement can be like having to choose the colour of the living room. But don’t despair, because now we’re really going to talk about colours!

1. Basic things you should know about colours

Is it really necessary to start on such a low end of the practicality scale, you might think?

Yes, it is! The basic characteristics of colours are absolutely essential to know in order to be able to put them together properly in your banner ads.

The most important thing to know is, first and foremost, the classification of colours into basic categories (3).

These are:

  • The primary colours: blue, red and yellow. By mixing these, you can create any colour.
  • The secondary colours: the ones you get when you mix two of the primary colours. And these are green (blue and yellow), orange (red and yellow) and purple (blue and red).
  • The tertiary colours (Intermediate): a mixture of the primary and the secondary colours. Mixing equal quantities of a primary and a secondary colour gives you a tertiary colour.

But that is not all!

Colours can also be categorised on the basis of purity. Pure colours can be described as the basic shade or nuance of a colour. The pure colours may be changed by adding either white or black (4):

  • Tints are achieved by combining pure colours with white, which makes them lighter in expression.
  • Shades are achieved by combining pure colours with black, which makes them heavier in expression.

Can colours then be divided into several more groups?

Yes, yes, they can. Colours can also be divided into: warm colours (e.g. orange, yellow and red) and cold colours (e.g. blue, green and purple).

Types of colour composition

Now that we have talked a little about what colour categories there are, it is now time to look at how these colours can be put together. This is done with colour compositions.

The different colour compositions are (4):

  • Analogue (analogous): those in which the colours are placed next to each other in the colour wheel. These colours are usually between 3-5 colours, and since they are next to each other, these colours harmonize well.
  • Monochromatic: those with a base of both tints and shades. This creates variation and can therefore be used when creating an organised and pure expression.
  • Complimentary: those made from colours placed on opposite sides of the colour wheel, such as: blue and orange. These colours have the highest contrast.
  • Triad: the three-colour compositions, all of which are equally spaced in the colour wheel. These colours help to create good balance and diversity.


If you use too many colours, your banner ad will be too confusing and hard to understand. Experts therefore suggest that you make maximum use of 4 colours, but that between 2-3 colours are best (6).

Now that we have gone through the basics of colours, we can move on to the next subject.

2. Selecting the right colours for banner ads

The basics may well be in place now, but how are you going to choose the right colours for your banner ad?

Not to worry — I want to help you with that!

First of all, it is good to follow these guidelines:

  • Choose colours that match the context you are building.
  • Choose colours that create enough contrast to each other.

And remember:

Colours are a form of communication and can therefore be used to create more convincing banner advertising.

And since colours are a form of communication, you should take time to think about your message. What do you really want to express? Is it feelings? Values? Your company’s personality? As a rule of thumb, it should be something you would like your business to be associated with.

But what now?

Once you get the message right, it’s time to look at colours. But which ones?

If you want to express positivity, then warm and bright colours are a good choice. If, on the other hand, you wish to express courage, you can use pure shades such as yellow and red.

But do not forget that context plays an important role and that in some situations, colours are needed more than in others.

You can’t work your around this. It can backfire and your brand can be perceived differently than you want it to be.


… one thing you can do, for example, is to use darker colours in positive situations to stand out from the crowd. However, you must also be careful with this as it can be perceived very differently depending on the eye of the beholder.

Is there anything else you need to be aware of?

Yes, we’re not finished yet. Another thing to bear in mind is that culture also plays an important role when it comes to colours. For example, take the colour red, which is a happy colour in most western countries, while in Japan, for example, red is seen as the colour of grief (7).

But don’t forget…

… Your target audience!

Colour preferences are not only cultural – gender and age also play an important role, which we will look at now…

3. The significance of colour and gender in banner advertising

Does gender matter? Yes, yes, it does.

Studies show that men and women have different tastes in colour, and that blue is a colour that both sexes prefer. Men, however, have a greater preference for blue than women. On the other hand, women also have a preference for purple.

Orange and brown are the colours that are generally seen as the ones people prefer the least. Women like orange, brown and grey the least, while men like brown, orange and purple the least. On the other hand, both men and women don’t like yellow at all.

Below you can see which colours men and women like best and which they like least (8):

But it is not only gender that is important; age also plays an important role, and we will go into this in more detail in the sections below…

4. The importance of colours and age groups in banner advertising

Does age really matter?

You bet it does!

Age plays an important role, because it is not only between genders that there are preferences over colours. Blue can be said to be an exception, since it is largely a colour that everyone likes.

Maturity helps to create greater preference over nuances with shorter wavelengths, i.e. green, blue and purple. In contrast to these colours, are colours with longer wavelengths such as orange, yellow and red.

Studies have also shown that colour preference is influenced by both cultural and social factors (9).

Different age groups also have a colour they like the least, and again, these tend to be orange and purple. In addition, the colour yellow becomes less and less favourable, the older you become.

It is therefore important to bear age in mind, as this may have a significant impact on how your banner ad is received.

5. Colour contrasts in banner ads

Now we come to contrasts, and here, it is a good idea to take every word to heart. Contrasts are one of the most important things when it comes to design and colours.

Contrasts can be used to emphasize important information while it can help consumers distinguish between the different elements of your design. In addition, colours are not completely effective without a strong enough contrast.

For example, if your banner advertisement has a blue background and you place a dark blue button on it, it may be difficult for the reader to see it. On the other hand, if you choose a yellow or orange button, contrast will be created and the reader will be able to see the button.

Also be aware that strong colours contrast with each other. A slight colour contract may look very nice, but the text you choose to overlay it will be difficult to see. This will mean that the reader will have to spend longer distinguishing between the different elements on the banner. And this could ultimately make the reader choose not to click on your banner.

When using high contrast colours, the text will be easier to read, but you must also be careful not to exaggerate the contrast, as this can be very unpleasant to the reader’s eyes (10).

In the example below you can see how the red fish clearly stands out on the black background — the contrast between the object and the background is made very clear.

In short

There are many things that come into play when choosing colours for your banner ads. One of the most important things to understand is how different colours fit together and, therefore, what contrast is created.

In addition, gender and age are also important to take into account. If you want to advertise to older generations, it may be advantageous to avoid, for example, yellow, as this colour is not particularly well received by an older audience. Or choose the colour blue if you want to reach as many people as possible.

There are many things to keep track of, but having general knowledge of colours is a must, and we hope that this article has helped you become smarter about colours and colour choices for banner ads.

If you want to further improve your banner advertising, you can also choose to split-test. And this can be done with text, colours and images.

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