The Psychology of Color

What are the right colors for you business? To discuss this topic, one has to have some understanding of the psychology of color. Different colors affect moods and attitude in different ways. Furthermore, one has to take into consideration the culture of your targeted demographic, as different colors have different psychological (conscious and unconscious) meanings within various cultures.

Red

Red is the most emotionally intense color. It stimulates an increased heartbeat and breathing. It is also the color of love.

For a long time the corporate color of choice was red. It was known as “corporate red.” This can be shown in the logos of companies such as: Shell, McDonalds, Exxon, Target, Johnson and Johnson. Red was a popular choice because of the eye’s natural attraction to the color red.

Red clothing gets noticed and makes the wearer appear heavier—so be careful with those red bikinis, ladies! Since it is an extreme color, red clothing might not help people in negotiations or confrontations. I know that you have heard that red automobiles are the most targeted cars to get stolen. Also when used in decorating, red is usually an accent—most decorators say that red furniture attracts attention, helping round out a bland room.

An offshoot of red—a pale red, pink is the most romantic color and is more tranquilizing than red. Sports teams sometimes paint the opponent’s locker rooms bright pink, so that they will lose energy. A little tidbit, the practice of assigning pink to an individual gender began in the 1920s and from then until the 1940s, pink was considered appropriate for boys because being related to red.

Blue

Most companies nowadays go with what is known as “Corporate blue.” This can be show in the logos of companies such as Citigroup, Walmart, and IBM. Blue is the most abundant color around us in nature and is known to have the properties of loyalty, trustworthiness, and stability (e.g., police officers)—the power suit of the corporate world. The large majority of new companies looking to brand their names go with the color blue.

Blue is a universal color—the color associated with baby boys, the sky, and ocean.

It creates the opposite psychological effect of red: peace and tranquility. A natural color, blue produces calming effects, so it is often used in bedrooms. However, at times it can also be cold and depressing.

Fashion consultants recommend wearing blue to job interviews because it symbolizes loyalty, intelligence, and confidence. People are more productive in blue rooms. Studies show weightlifters are able to handle heavier weights in blue gyms.

Black

Black is really a lack of color or an object that doesn’t emit or reflect light—the anti-color. Black is the color of authority and power. Very popular in the fashion world as it makes people appear thinner. It is also stylish and timeless.

Black also implies submission. Priests wear black to signify submission to God. Some fashion experts say a woman wearing black implies submission to men.

Black outfits can also be overpowering, or make the wearer seem aloof or evil. Villains, such as Dracula, often wear black.

White

Brides wear white to symbolize innocence and purity—virginity. White means kindness, and in some countries is worn to funerals.

White also stands for openness and truth, and at times can be a little cold. Doctors and nurses wear white to imply sterility.

White reflects light and is considered a summer color. White is popular in decorating and in fashion because it is light, neutral, and goes with everything.

Green

Currently green is the most popular decorating color. Symbolizing nature it is the easiest color on the eye and can improve vision. Change and transformation is necessary for growth, and so this ability to sustain changes is also a part of the energy of green. It has a calming and refreshing effect. People waiting to appear on TV sit in "green rooms" to relax.

Hospitals often use green because it relaxes patients. Brides in the Middle Ages wore green to symbolize fertility. Dark green is masculine, conservative, and implies wealth.

Yellow

Cheerful sunny yellow is an attention getter and is the easiest color to see. People who are color blind to other colors can usually see yellow—thus often used for hazard signs and emergency vehicles.

While it is considered warm and optimistic color, people lose their tempers more often in yellow rooms and babies usually will cry more often. Yellow enhances concentration, hence its use for legal pads. It also speeds metabolism.

Orange

The most flamboyant color on the planet! It's the color tied most this fun times, happy and energetic days, warmth and organic products. It is also associated with ambition. There is nothing even remotely calm associated with this color. Orange is associated with a new dawn in attitude.

Purple

The color of royalty, purple connotes luxury, wealth, and sophistication. It is also feminine and romantic.

It is the color of people seeking spiritual fulfillment. It is said if you surround yourself with purple you will have peace of mind. Purple is a good color to use in meditation. However, because it is rare in nature, purple can appear artificial.

Because purple is a combination of red and blue, it brings a new dynamic to the expansion of blue and the activity of red. Red brings practicality to the undirected expansiveness of the blue, and allows more creative energy to emerge. For this reason, violet is associated with imagination and inspiration.

Brown

Solid, reliable, conventional—brown is the color of earth and is abundant in nature. Light brown implies genuineness while dark brown is similar to wood or leather. Brown can also be sad and wistful. Men are more apt to say brown is one of their favorite colors.

Too much brown can make a dull effect, but gives a feeling of solidity and allows one to stay in the background, unnoticed.

So what is the right choice for your company? The most important place to start is putting yourself in your customer’s shoes—your target demographic. Which color would be most pleasing to them? Sometimes when starting a company it is hard to separate your personal color preference with the preferences of your targeted customer. Your favorite color may be green but is it really the color that best represents your company?

Perhaps after reading this article you have decided it is most important for your company to seem trustworthy and dependable—blue is the color for you! That is the same color that many companies have, and you have to remember that a part of branding your company is to set yourself apart and make sure that people remember YOUR company.

Subscribe to
Our Newsletter

Comments

  1. Beth Mann said:

    Thanks for this more detailed piece on color. I’ve read many but this elaborated more than most. Color is something many of us take for granted yet it affects us constantly. (Remember that if you’re feeling down. Don’t put on that black shirt!)

Leave a Comment on this post

*
*