Milleflore Images

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The Meanings of Colors

In Part 2 of this series, How to Brand Your Website Using Color, I discussed how color produces emotional responses that can then be used to brand and market your products and services to your preferred audiences.

This is Part 3 of my Using Images to Improve Your Website’s Performance three-part blog series where I discuss the meanings and target audiences for each of the main colors. 

This is not a full comprehensive list but intended as a guide and starting point for color understanding. I whole-heartedly encourage you to do your own exploration and testing to find the right colors for you and your site.


Active, passionate, love, intensity, strength, memorable.

Red is the most powerful of all colors and can elicit likewise powerful emotions and responses. But think of all the big brands who have used red in their logos, such as Coca Cola, Kellogg’s, Target, KFC, and McDonalds, and please do not be afraid to use it if it fits into your scheme.

Red calls your viewers to attention and is the most memorable of colors as well. Its target audience include people who are courageous, energetic, and love life in a big way. Some studies have found that men find women who wear red more visually attractive.

Different shades of red elicit different emotions, so study up on them to achieve the look and feel you are after.

I use red in my branding because I am sometimes known as the 'color lady' of stock imagery and want to call to attention my target audience, the buyers who want to break away from the more generic stock imagery. However, I must confess I love red as well.

The roses in my header photos were given to me on Valentine's Day and because they were so beautiful and full of love, I used them to shoot a range of what I now call my Coffee and Roses set.


Warm, enthusiastic, success, friendly.

Orange is a combination of red and yellow and elicits responses as a halfway meeting ground for both.

It is a bright and impactful color, but it also has its 'repel audience', which is youth. Youthful audiences prefer yellow to orange so be aware of this and substitute yellow if you are targeting a younger audience.

I sell a lot of orange images. In fact, if I put up several different colors at once, the orange backgrounds are the first to sell. Partly because there is not a lot of competition from image suppliers in the orange domain, and partly, I believe, there is still a huge audience out there who just adore orange.

Orange is a hot color and will grab attention quickly but is often listed as one of the least favored colors in a broad range of demographics, so use it wisely.

Studies have shown that it can best used, being a citrus color, for healthy food and is also known to stimulate the appetite as well. Also perfect for Fall harvest season.

Use for adult, happy, go-getter audiences, or for celebrations. Use yellow for the younger audiences.


Joy, energetic, fresh, optimistic, youthful.

Use to promote childrens' products, or anything bright, happy, cheerful and young.

Different shades of yellow can decide how eye-catching you want your site to be.

Yellow may repel a male audience who generally think it is childish. And avoid it if you want to signify stablity and refinement.

Think young, fresh, springtime and sunshine, and yellow should be the color for you.


Love, sweet, romantic, playful, compassionate, soft.

Pink! What can I say? Wonderful, adorable, beautiful pink. It is one of the red colors but so special that the marketing industry has christened it with its own generational name, “Millennial Pink”.

Pink may sometimes repel a masculine audience but for others, it is a veritable magnet.

Experiment with all the different hues from lollipop and fuchsia pinks through to the lighter shades, to see what fits.

A word of warning: Blush Pink, being on the outside perimeter of the color wheel, is considered a neutral and therefore will register as having no color to the eye. Yes, it is a beautiful shade, but will leave no lasting memories with your audience to connect to.

Read more about neutral colors here: How to Brand Your Website Using Color.



A relatively new phenomenon within color psychology is how the color Rose Gold has made such a big entrance into the branding and marketing industry.

Gold tinted shade of pink. Communicates luxury and has a sense of calmness. Alleviates anger. Associated with style, elegance, and affluence.

Because Rose Gold is flattering to most skin tones, the color has spread to fashion, beauty, and accessories. Made even more famous by Apple's rose gold devices and accessories.

Yes, I confess. I have a rose gold iPhone, iPad and lots of rose gold accessories. Friends and family know what to buy me for stocking-fillers!


Trust, security, stability, peace, soothing, calmness, responsibility.

If you have a financial site or in any way need to help build trust with your audience, then blue is definitively the color to choose.

Blue is often the color associated with men, but it was not until after World War II that blue was the color for boys and pink for girls. In fact, a hundred years ago the colors were reversed, and little baby boys were often dressed in pink.

In many studies, blue is voted as the most popular color of all, and often the top choice for both men and women, so can be treated as gender neutral.

Blue is one color that can be safely used in your color scheme as it has the least chance of repelling any specific demographic.


Fresh, calm, peaceful, hopeful, health and healing, wealth, luck, balance, and renewal.

Green is a mix of blue and yellow and so combines the qualities of both – trust and serenity with a good dash of sunshine!

It is often the second most popular color for many people. Depending on the shade, it is associated with health, growth, freshness, and naturalness, and often used for mature, professional brands.

Because green is associated with the recycling logo, it is an ideal color to use for eco-friendly or organic products and services, or those associated with environmental issues.

Green is another gender-neutral color.


Glamor, luxury, ambition, nostalgic, spiritual, mystical, mysterious, and sensual.

Purple is a combination of red and blue, and combines the attention-seeking qualities of red but toning it down with the calmness of blue.

Purple is commonly associated with royalty and luxury. It is also used for vintage products or services with a nostalgic appeal.

Purple is highly popular with women and young girls, but one of the colors least favored by men.

Some time ago I decided to decorate a spare room that was only to be used by me. I chose yellow and purple as the color scheme. Yes, I know. Sounds bad at first, but they are complimentary colors from the opposite sides of the color wheel - and wow! It looked amazing. At least that is what I thought.

One day I had an electrician around and I had the door open to my yellow and purple room, he looked in, and gasped! He thought it was horrible. But of course, as described above, purple is the least preferred color for men and they often think yellow is childish. (I loved it though.)

I have always thought that purple is a great color to use with chocolate and then a friend recently pointed out to me that it is the brand color of chocolate manufacturer, Cadbury. But of course!

Gray & Neutrals

Technology, precision, control, logic, lacks emotion.

Grays and neutrals are extremely popular now in decorating and with suppliers of stock photography. This coincided with the rise in the demand for more authentic looking stock photography about 5 years ago.

The main problem with neutral shades is that they do nothing for branding.

Neutral tones are the shades that you find on the external perimeter of the color wheel. Because the eye registers neutral tones as having no color, they leave no lasting memory with its viewers.

Even though neutrals are less likely to turn away audiences, the downside is that you will have less chance of attracting YOUR target audience as well.

Neutrals signify gentle, calming, subtle, conservatism but are different to black and white, as they lack contrast and visual impact.


I hope you enjoyed my series on how to use images and color to improve your site’s performance.

I would like to leave you with two things.

Firstly, obtaining good quality images is crucial to optimise your sales and marketing. Images and colors have a far-reaching impact on your audience, and these should not be taken lightly. Look at the most successful brands out there and we can see how a major part of what they do is all about imagery and branding with color.

And secondly, by learning from the big brands and the advertising industry we can easily see why using the right images and colors helps to make them more successful. But what happens if we do not do the same? Well, we are back to square one.

If you are just starting out, or your website is not performing as well as it should be, or it used to but you are now losing ground to your ever growing competition, then spending a bit more time developing or honing your brand should be your first step. If not, you could be left behind.

Because I have worked for some large market-driven companies, I know they budget at least 7% of their total revenue for marketing and I do this myself as well.

And of course, branding is a large part, not to mention the first step, to successful marketing.

About the Author

Annie, the owner of Milleflore Images, has been a very successful stock photographer for 7 years, selling over 90,000 stock imagery on one agency alone, and 200,000 plus across all agencies that she contributes to.

Prior to that, she had her own graphic design business, which she says has been the perfect background to understanding what type of visual sells best.

Milleflore Images specializes in bright, colorful stock photography and video.

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