Color combinations for marketing


Marketers often struggle with choosing the right color and guess what looks nice. But what color combinations are biologically attractive to our eyes and what color is right for the Call-To-Action button. There is no magic color that works for a CTA button, it all depends on the other colors you use in your communication. I will explain the effect of color on the eyes and 4 kinds of color combinations that you can use. And also an awesome tool to make all these combinations super easy including RGB and hex color codes!

The eye

First, we need to understand a bit more about the eye. The retina of our eye consists of bars and cones that absorb light. Three kinds of cones to be precise, one for blue light, one for yellow-green light and one for red light. The cones are being activated ones they absorb colors. The next picture, for example, is where your eyes have been focussing on the lamp for a while

Complementary colors

Now we will use that knowledge to explain the first color combination. Remember the color wheel? A complementary color is a color you can find on the opposite in de color circle. This is a very powerful combination for a CTA button. When your template is mostly orange, pick a complementary code for the CTA button (blue). It does not only stand out, but our eyes actually want to look at the complementary color. The cones that are activated by all the orange are getting tired easily and will automatically look for a complementary color so that the other cones can rest. Do not use too much of the complementary color because it will lose this effect and both color cones in the eyes will be too busy. This is what we call a busy or a messy design, now you have your biological proof so you have evidence to your manager that wants the busy design.


Split complementary colors

The second combination is a split complementary where you have one base color and pick two colors opposite of this color like shown in the color wheel below. Also, the image above with the vases is a nice example of a split complementary combination.


Analogous colors

This is a combination that is a harmfully color scheme. Analogous colors are two or three colors next to each other on the color wheel.


Triadic colors

Triadic colors is a triangle combination like shown in the color wheel below, make sure the distance between every color on the wheel is equal. There is a high contract so each of the color cones will be activated with this color combination. However, if you make one color dominant you are able to make a pleasant flyer or email while being striking.


Tetradic color

Also called double complementary, is when you make a triangle combination on the color wheel.


Use these combinations to play more with your website, email, flyer or anything you use colors with and try different combinations. Now, what color is your CTA is going to look like?

Use this tool from Adobe to make these combinations super easy.  You can find it at

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One thought on “Color combinations for marketing

  1. Pingback: 50 A/B test ideas for email | MarketingMemoir

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