Colour Psychology & Communicating With Colour
Colour Guru, Leatrice Eiseman said it best “Of all the forms of non-verbal communication, colour is the most instantaneous method of conveying messages and meanings.”
The human reaction to colour is generally subliminal and many consumers aren’t even aware of the power colours have on their decision-making. The fact that colours can cause an emotional or chemical reaction in our bodies is pretty impressive, so when working with colours it’s important to know a bit more about them.
COLOUR PSYCHOLOGY AND HUMAN INSTINCT
We start forming feelings and connections to colours from birth. Experts suggest that humans have an innate wisdom about colours due to evolution. Communicating colour was crucial for survival. Identifying plants and animals correctly by colour could mean knowing what to eat or not, potentially making a life-saving difference.
Selecting venue, packaging, and brand colours requires a deep understanding of how they affect your audience. For instance, it might sound odd, but restaurants with predominantly blue interiors often struggle. Unlike warmer colours like red, blue doesn’t stimulate hunger; in fact, it can trigger kidney-related responses – not very appetizing, right? While this example is extreme, comprehending colours and colour theory can significantly impact your brand’s success.
Below, I’ve defined some terms you might encounter when dealing with color, and I’ve delved into the psychology and meanings associated with common colors. If you’re interested in a free colour psychology guide, continue reading and sign up at the bottom of the page.
I had a blast putting this blog together and I hope you enjoy it!
Hue is basically just another word for colour or shade. We distinguish one hue from another by using common colour names such as violet, red, green, etc.
Saturation refers to the intensity of a colour. The more pale or neutral a colour is the less saturation it has. Vivid and bright colours are high saturation.
The value of a colour refers to the lightness or darkness of the colour by determining how close it is to either white or black. For example, forest green emits less light and therefore has a lower value than lime green.
Primary colours are basic colours that can be mixed together to make other colours. They are usually considered to be red, yellow, blue, and sometimes green depending on what rabbit hole you go down on Google.
A secondary colour is a colour resulting from the mixing of two primary colours. Makes sense right!
Ok now onto the interesting stuff — colour psychology!
RED — ACTION | ENERGY | POWER | PASSION
Red is a potent colour, with its impact being subject to how it’s employed. Pretty clever, huh?
It sparks excitement and a surge in energy. Looking at red can elevate blood pressure, heart rate, and adrenaline levels. That’s why businesses often opt for red to announce a sale; it fosters a sense of urgency.
Among colours, warm red tones are deemed the most provocative, conjuring images of seductive red lingerie and sleek red convertibles.
Commonly seen in fast food logos, red can prompt swifter decision-making and intensify hunger by stimulating appetite.
PINK — YOUTHFUL | ENERGETIC | EXCITING | NURTURING
Pink’s gender associations have a complex history. Surprisingly, it was once considered a masculine color, seen as bolder than blue, leading to boys often being dressed in pink. This shows how societal perceptions of color can evolve over time.
You’re likely familiar with the concept of the Pink Tax, right? Whether we like it or not, pink is still heavily linked with femininity, making it a popular choice for cosmetics, beauty products, perfumes, and items associated with sweet scents or tastes.
The shade of pink also influences its impact. Vibrant, hot pinks tend to evoke more urgency, while lighter or muted pinks have a more calming and neutral effect.
ORANGE — HAPPY | PLAYFUL | FUN | OPTIMISTIC
Vibrant oranges convey a youthful, playful, and cheerful vibe, not to be taken too seriously. Meanwhile, softer variations like peach, apricot, and coral exude an elegance that appeals to a more discerning audience.
The lighter shades of orange are an excellent choice for food-related products, subtly enhancing appetite and evoking a sense of deliciousness. They also find their place in the health and beauty industry seamlessly.
YELLOW — CHEERFUL | ENERGETIC | WISDOM | FUN
Yellow is linked with creativity and enlightenment, making it an excellent choice for point-of-sale displays as the eye tends to notice yellow before other colours. In the realm of food, creamy yellows evoke a sense of deliciousness – think of creamy custards. On the other hand, vibrant, greenish yellows are often associated with a tart and acidic taste.
In nature, the combination of yellow and black triggers ancient instincts related to potentially dangerous creatures. This pairing is frequently employed to convey a message of “hey, pay attention to me!”
BROWN — NATURAL | EARTHY | WARM | STABLE
Brown’s perception greatly hinges on the context more than any other color. While it generally carries a positive connotation, improper use can evoke associations with dirt and grime, making it less popular in the fashion industry.
In contemporary times, brown enjoys broader acceptance in homewares, interiors, and the food industry. It’s often associated with notions of health, organic products, and wholesomeness.
BLUE — CALMING | SOOTHING | POSITIVE | TRUSTWORTHY
Blue tends to have a calming effect on humans, reminiscent of serene oceans and clear skies. However, specific shades can trigger varying emotions. Some blues can evoke feelings of sadness, as reflected in phrases like “feeling blue” or “having the blues.” Darker blues convey a sense of seriousness and power, underscoring the importance of selecting the right tone.
Historically, blue was infrequently used in food packaging due to the scarcity of naturally occurring blue foods and its potential to suppress appetite. Over time, this has changed, and it’s now gaining acceptance in industries like dairy, seafood, and confectionery.
GREEN — GROWTH | VITALITY | DEPENDABLE | TRADITIONAL
Green is incredibly versatile, with a wide range of shades, tones, and hues. Brighter greens convey a sense of health, vitality, and freshness, while deeper tones are commonly associated with finance or education, representing tradition, prestige, and security.
In the realm of food, it’s advisable to opt for greens resembling fruits and vegetables. Avoid yellow-greens, as they can evoke feelings of illness or nausea. However, these tones work well for anything related to gardening or florals.
PURPLE — REGAL | SENSUAL | SPIRITUAL | MYSTERIOUS
Purple embodies a paradox, merging the vigor of red with the tranquility of blue. It’s perceived as both sensual and spiritual, making it ideal for branding associated with innovation or distinctiveness. Embraced by creative individuals, purple has shed its outdated “old lady lavender” stereotype and now resonates with all age and gender groups.
The tone of purple greatly influences the emotions it evokes. Rich, deeper tones exude a sense of majesty and regality, while lighter shades are more delicate and sweet in nature.
WHITE — PURITY | SIMPLICITY | CLEANLINESS | CLARITY
Designers often emphasise the significance of clear white space. White provides room for your design to breathe. Imagine a scenario where everyone is yelling at you – it would be challenging to absorb any information. The human eye perceives white as a colour, making it effective in creating contrast and achieving balance.
Next time you’re in the paint aisle at Bunnings, notice the array of white tones. Depending on their application, pure whites may appear stark and unwelcoming, while off-whites are seen as more inviting. In food packaging, creamy whites often convey a sense of sweetness and deliciousness, while vanilla whites suggest pleasant tastes and scents.
BLACK — PROFESSIONAL | SOPHISTICATED | ELEGANT | EXPENSIVE
Black is considered a classic color for a reason. When employed thoughtfully, it exudes sophistication, elegance, and a sense of class. This is particularly evident in gourmet food packaging and luxury items, where consumers are willing to pay a premium for what they perceive as a superior product. Once associated primarily with funerals and mourning, black has undergone a transformation and is now generally viewed in a positive light.
However, due to its perceived heaviness, black isn’t frequently used in contexts like boats or planes. Nonetheless, it remains essential for conveying power, elegance, and strength.
Thank you for reading! I hope you found this helpful.
To download your Colour Psychology Cheat Sheet simply sign up below to receive the download link. If you don’t receive an email just double-check your Junk Folder.
By submitting this form, you are giving permission to be added to our subscriber list. We promise to keep your details safe and don’t worry you may unsubscribe at any time.