The psychology of colours
Hello beautiful reader, today I want to share some thoughts and facts on colours. The intention of this article is to help you take better colour design decisions.
It is good to know that there is psychology behind colours. It means that we connect colours to feelings and emotions. The truth is, however, that how we personally feel about particular colours highly depends on our personal experiences, culture, religion, gender, age and other factors.
Please note that there is no such thing as a definite guide and a clear manual on picking the right colour combinations for your brand. It is always the context that matters. Laurie Pressman’s, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, advice is to ask the following questions to get your context:
- What does your brand stand for?
- What message do you want to convey?
- How can colour help you tell the story?
- Who is your customer?
Choosing the colours is a vital branding action and decision to make. There is a very informative article on colours and marketing Why Colours Matter. And I am choosing the following part from it for you:
Research reveals people make a subconscious judgment about a person, environment, or product within 90 seconds of initial viewing and that between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on color alone.
The study by Loyola University Maryland shows that colour is registered by our brain at first. After that come images, shapes and typography. The same study says that colour increases brand recognition by up to 80 percent.
What does all this mean? The message is simple. Colour sells. And that is why it is so important to do the colour exploration and subsequently the right colour decisions that resonate with your audience. Colours influence us and effect the way we behave, feel and think.
Colours and emotions
Despite the fact that we are all different and unique and we can perceive colours differently there are some patterns that pretty accurately describe the overall feeling about particular colours.
Generally speaking men prefer bold colours and women on the other hand fancy softer colours. Men tend to choose shades of colours (colours with black added) whereas women generally select tints of colours (colours with white added).
Yellow, the brightest colour of the spectrum, symbolises happiness and optimism. A person who is looking at the yellow colour senses more confidence, self esteem and inspiration. However too much of the yellow can be perceived negatively and lead to fear and depressive thoughts.
Orange is the combination of red and yellow and it takes only the best of it. It is connected with positive feelings, enthusiasm, motivation and adventure. Orange colour is used to encourage, stimulate, bring up fun times, express freedom and to draw attention.
Red colour is associated with strong feelings and emotions. It brings up excitement, passion, attention, courage and energy. This colour is connected to love, sexuality, energy as well as to anger and danger.
Please note that red colour has a little bit different associations outside the western world. In China for instance red colour is connected with prosperity and happiness. On the other hand, the red colour is connected to death in some parts of Africa
Since pink is a softer version of red it is a prefect choice for understanding, caring and nurturing people. Pink is a colour of unconditional love. Too much of pink can be a sign of lack of power and maturity. Pink is strongly connected to femininity (but that doesn’t mean that you are not allowed to fight the stereotypes. Bear in mind that it is always the context that matters. Don’t forget that choosing a colour that is different just for the sake of difference is not a good option).
Purple is a secondary colour and mixes the energy of red with the stability and reliability of blue. Purple is associated with luxury, wealth, loyalty, courage, mystery and magic. Too much of the good thing is bad and too much of purple can distract people’s minds.
The colour of nature representing harmony, balance, rest and peace. It is connected to positive energy and vibes and it is a sign of growth. It has a more positive effect than most other colours. Green can sometimes be associated with materialism and over-possession.
Blue is a primary colour that represents calm, conveys peace and serenity. It is connected to loyalty, integrity and responsibility. It is a conservative, cool colour that can be associated with sadness and aloofness as well.
Light shades of the colour are more relaxing and have a calming effect. Dark shades on the other hand represent strength, loyalty and reliability. Blue is one of the most liked colour in the world.
White is a colour of purity, innocence, clarity and peace. White is associated with new beginnings, fresh and refreshing new ideas. White gives a breathing space and space for ideas. Too much of white on the other hand can cause feelings of loneliness, isolation and emptiness.
It is a colour of control, independence, seriousness and sophistication. Meanings of the colour varies and it can be connected to mystery, evil, depression and even death. Too much of black can cause feelings of sadness, negativity and depression.
Is a warm, neutral and natural colour of protection and security. Brown colour can be perceived as too safe, reserved or even boring.
8 questions to ask yourself
- Are the colours relevant to the business we operate?
- Do the colours communicate the right and appropriate message to the audience?
- Do we use unordinary colours just for the sake of being different? (It may be seen as shouting and you don’t want to shout).
- How do you want to make your clients feel?
- What associations does the particular colour have in the targeted culture?
- Does the colour palette resonate with our audience?
- Are we using our favourite colours? (Don’t use your favourite colours just because you personally like the colours).
- What are the dominant colours in the industry?