Skip to main content

Revealed: the colour that's most likely to engage people online

Selection of images, all containing green
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Every year, image library Shutterstock launches its Color Trends report, identifying the most popular colours of the moment, based on downloads from its service across the world. This year, though, it's upped the ante. 

New to this year's report, Shutterstock has also identified the highest performing colour across media generally: ie the one that leads to the greatest click-through rates and conversions in marketing and advertising campaigns. 

Shutterstock.AI, a new subsidiary launched by the company this July, has drawn on hundreds of billions of creative data points, across years of digital ads, to identify the most clickable colour scheme. And the winner is... green.

"This year’s data shows that shades of green dominated in click-through rates and conversions," says Shutterstock. "So if you want your projects to perform like a pro, consider adding a touch of emerald, jade, lime, mint, and beyond."

Don't miss our guide to colour theory for more on mastering the art of colour. 

Top 3 colours of 2022

More broadly, this year's report states that creators are taking a more muted, minimalist, and soft approach to colour palettes. And that's a direct response to a world shaken by the pandemic, says Flo Lau, creative director at Shutterstock.

"2021 has been a year of reckoning with the aftermath of the year that was," she says. "Now, brands and agencies around the world are adapting their palettes to soothe, and evoke stability and balance." Based on analysis of the nearly two million contributors to Shutterstock's platform, she states that "people are looking for tones that are natural, earthy, and calming." 

The report predicts the top 3 colours of 2022 will be as follows...

01. Calming Coral (#E9967A)

Selection of images highlighting calming coral colour

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Calming Coral is described in the report as "a faintly fading peach, like a heavy filter over a beautiful sunset; [it] evokes a rustic, toned-down shade in comparison to some of the brighter, cleaner shades of the past." Shutterstock suggests combining it with dusty yellows and pinks for a nostalgic tint, or "contrasting it with a sky blue to round out a comforting, natural palette".

02. Velvet Violet (#800080)

Selection of images highlighting velvet violet colour

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Velvet Violet is described by Shutterstock as "a vibrant shade of purple with pink undertones, reminiscent of the lasting luxury and elegance of the royal orchid". The report calls it "the boldest of the trending colors for 2022, drawing attention without feeling ostentatious. Its natural complement is a contrasting shade of green, like emerald".

03. Pacific Pink (#DB7093)

Selection of images highlighting pacific pink colour

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Pacific Pink is a hue identified in the Color Trends report as "a cotton candy pink representing a perfect mix of vitality and tranquility". Shutterstock suggests pairing it with "pink and peachy tones [or] apply it to a complementary light teal, to evoke the sun setting over a glimmering Pacific beach".

Selection of images highlighting different colours

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Shutterstock has also identified the top performing colours for specific countries, with shades of pink coming out on top in both the US and UK (#FFC0CB and #FFE4E1) respectively. You can read the full report here

Tom May

Tom May is an award-winning journalist and editor specialising in design, photography and technology. He is author of Great TED Talks: Creativity, published by Pavilion Books. He was previously editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine.