Colors and their effect on us – Part 2: Secondary colors

In Part 1 I examined the primary colors; blue, red and yellow. You would think that these primary colors are ruling the game, but secondary colors are actually killing it at the moment – except blue, blue is just the best.

Green is a color which makes us almost instantly think of the nature or other environmental aspects. It can also be associated with learning and for example Duolingo uses it as their dominant color. Along with blue, many financial apps use green as their color as well. This could reflect from the most common though of a color when it comes to money – green. When taking a look at Apple only, their “Phone” and “Text messages” apps are green as well, in addition to the very popular message app WhatsApp. This could be due to the functionality effect that green also has. Finally, one of the categories that has kept a certain color pattern for a long time (red and orange), has also started to add a little green to their scheme – the Food & Drinks category. The top-lists from SensorTower show that the most common categories where green exists, were Business, Education, Finance and Food & Drinks. 

As briefly discussed in Part 1, orange is actually more popular than one of its mixture colors; yellow. When you think of yellow apps, how many come to your mind? Snapchat, sure, but any others? Then again think of orange ones – I can immediately think of at least 5. And if not totally orange, it is more usual to bump into a gradient of orange and red or orange and yellow in an app instead of just plain yellow. Many apps that are Apple’s own, are actually orange or a gradient, for example Find my friends, Tips, iTunes U, Pages and I Books. The psychological side of orange is quite similar to its mixture colors yellow and red. It associates with cheerful feelings and creativity. Along with red, orange is actually one of the colors that increases people’s appetite and interest and is thus used in many types of advertisements – as well as in icons. The top-lists from SensorTower show that the most common categories where orange shows were Books, Food & Drinks, Music and Sports.

Purple is a very trendy color. For example Instagram has over the years changed its brownish/grayish color scheme to a purple/orange/reddish one. Purple can also be a luxurious and royal color. While doing my research, I didn’t actually find that many apps with purple, but some apps like Instagram have used purple as one of their gradient colors. However, when analyzing the top-lists of SensorTower, I found that the category of Entertainment was by far the most common category of purple icons, including Roku and HBO Max from the Top 10.

Black and white aren’t technically colors, but do still hold a very essential place in this competition. White is more of a common background color, since you cannot use only white or different shades of white in an icon. However, white is a very popular background color among many apps, most of being in the category of Business. In general white represents pureness and simpleness. Black however makes a bit more of a statement than white, even though it is as much used as a background color. Black is a very cool, bold and luxurious color which is used for example in Uber, Netflix and TikTok. Black can also be associated with power and mystery, which makes the user more interested. When comparing top apps at the moment, black is a very dominant color in categories such as Entertainment and Sports. 

As a conclusion, colors do make a difference whether used correctly or not. It makes the user think a certain way without them even knowing, since colors really do associate to certain things. So never just throw on colors you like – throw on colors that represent the app.


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