You have probably heard the phrase “psychology of colour” numerous times in the past, but do you know what this term actually means? This article will explain the psychology of colour and tell you how you can leverage it for success in your career, business or personal life.
What does the term “the psychology of colour” mean?
Colour psychology refers to the study of how and why certain hues and shades seem to affect each individual’s emotions and change their moods. It has been proven that certain colours can change the way that people taste food, experience pain or spend their money.
As you can well imagine, this concept has intrigued many people in the branding and marketing industries. Some experts who specialise in the ability of colours to affect emotions believe that you can use colours to change behaviour, and many people in the advertising and marketing fields attempt to utilise this technique in order to increase sales.
Colour psychology in marketing and advertising
When it comes to selecting the different aspects of your branding, choosing the perfect colour is very important. After all, one of the first things that your prospective clients are going to notice about your product, website or logo is the colours that you have used.
Do you want to appear young, energetic and fresh? A pop of neon might do the trick. Is your brand image more classic and staid? Then dark and somber colours might be better for your business.
By using different colours and trends to target specific demographics, you can change the way that people feel about your product and your brand. If you are interested in what different colours can do for your business, read ahead to the next section.
The individual characteristics of colours
Here are just a few of the emotional characteristics associated with different colours.
Blue is thought to have a calming, soothing affect on people, and so it is often used in situations when people might otherwise be stressed or aggravated. There is evidence that installing blue street lights in troubled areas can reduce crime, and even suicide attempts. In 2002, city planners in Glasgow installed blue lights along Buchanan Street and the results have been favourable. Blue can also signal innovation. Famous brands that use blue as their main colour include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Skype.
Perhaps it is due to its association with traffic lights and stop signs, but red is a colour that signifies alarm and caution. On the other hand, red can also be very positive, evoking a feeling of strength, passion and courage. Think of Coca Cola, Target and Vodafone.
On the positive side of things, yellow can have very favourable aspects, and can encourage people to feel optimistic and creative, but it has also been long associated with mental illness and depression. Some people even believe that yellow (along with red) make us want to overeat, and many point to the interior decorations of Subway and McDonalds as support for this claim.
Natural and woodsy, green makes us feel connected to the great outdoors and can ground people when they are feeling anxious. It is a balanced and calm colour that can reassure us – some experts believe that this is a holdover from our ancestors, as green may have signified that food and water were close at hand. Brands who use this colour include BP, Starbucks and Whole Foods.
Orange is a fun and playful colour that can evoke the carefree feelings of childhood, and it is often used to signal affordability and getting a good deal. You can see this used very clearly with companies such as Home Depot, EasyJet and Orange Mobile.
New, fresh and young, pink may be associated as feminine, but it is also a colour that evokes youth and an energetic sense of fun. Aside from products aimed at women, pink is used in the branding of T Mobile, Taco Bell and LG.
This colour is earthy, honest and stable, conveying a feeling of trust and reliability. While some choose to avoid this colour because of its occasionally unfortunate associations with dirt and waste, those who do are often trying to communicate an organic, natural feel. Companies using brown include UPS, Gloria Jean’s Coffee and many chocolate products.
Historically, purple has been associated with royalty, but colour psychologists also claim that it can evoke spirituality, luxury and a higher level of consciousness. Cadbury’s uses purple for their logo, as does Hallmark Greeting Cards and the BBC.
While you may assume that black is all about darkness and depression, black does not always signal something negative. Because it is a blend of all colours, black can be very comforting and grounding, and can also evoke sophistication. Marks & Spencer uses black, along with Chanel, Lamborghini and Dolce & Gabbana.
Psychology of colour – subjective and controversial
As you can probably imagine, there are many different ways that individual people can interpret and absorb colours. While most psychologists agree that colours definitely affect the way that we feel, everyone experiences these affects differently.
While you might feel comforted and stable when you see the colour red, someone else might feel stifled, halted and even hungry! It is because of this subjectivity that some people believe that colour psychology is fraudulent and dishonest; although very little data seems to back this concept up with fact, the lack of concrete evidence is likely due to personal preferences, cultural differences and the context in which tests are conducted.
As you can see from above, the psychology of colour can truly help you convey your unique brand story to your potential clients. Carefully consider what colours you use – they will say a lot about you and your products.