Ever wonder where that saying originated? Why is blue sometimes used synonymously with being sad? The psychology of color and how it affects us has always fascinated me. Understanding the basics of color psychology can make an enormous impact on how we design. One important thing to note is that these are not hard and fast rules. Our backgrounds, cultures and even our personalities affect how we perceive color and the feelings we have toward each one. Over the years, U.S. researchers have come to a general consensus.
Commonly used to represent purity and innocence. White also provides the sense of cleanliness or of a sanitary area. It provides “leg-room” for a design and even gives us the term “white” space, which doesn’t always mean actual white, but rather a sense of openness. Used in marketing as simple, clean and creative.
Power, strength and modern are a few of the first things that come to mind when I think of black. It’s also commonly used to represent evil or death (think Darth Vader or Grim Reaper). On the flip side, black is also thought of as elegant, classic and protective. Used in marketing to show high quality, sophistication and authority.
There’s a good chance that this crayon is still sharp in your box. Grey can bring to mind gloomy moods or sad events. It’s additionally used to show security, intelligence or timeless reliability. Great contrast can be achieved when grey is paired with a second color. Used in marketing as practicality, luxury and balance.
My favorite! Blue is probably the most common “cool” color and creates a feeling of cold and icy. It has been shown to cause the body to produce calming chemicals, which explains why it’s a popular choice for bedroom walls. Blue also gives the feeling of wisdom, loyalty and integrity. This is why many experts suggest wearing blue to a job interview. Used in marketing as honest, caring, secure and productive.
Happy, sunny and cheerful. Yellow offers feelings of warmth and optimism. It has also been found to cause feelings of instability and frustration. Used in marketing as optimism, clarity, warmth and playfulness.
There are numerous emotional responses to red. Red is used for passion, love, heat, anger, energy, life, danger and power. Red is one of the colors that ellicits the most diverse reactions. Used in marketing for passion, urgency, movement, excitement and to encourage appetite.
Green evokes feelings of calming nature. Coolness, growth, harmony, wealth and freshness are also things that come to mind. You might also get “green” with envy, jealousy or guilt. Used in marketing for health, earth, environment, balance and decisiveness.
Orange ≠ the new Black. Since this is a mix of red and yellow, you can expect some crossover. Orange is an enthusiastic color that can also elicit a sense of sophistication and stimulation. Courage, confidence and friendliness are also good descriptions. Used in marketing as affordable, sociable and dauntless.
The color of royalty, nobility and luxury. Purple is ambitious and spirited. It is also considered a more exotic color and tends to create feelings of wisdom and influence. Used in marketing as imaginative, creative, intelligent and respected.
Brown is associated with feelings of comfort, warmth and nature. A rustic, earthy color, it is used to show conservatism, friendship, stability and reliability. Other than feelings, brown makes me think of masculinity, leather, wood and genuineness. Used in marketing it’s strong, reassuring and soothing.
Obviously there are multitudes of other colors out there that evoke other feelings. In fact, the different shades of each color can alter the mood/feeling it represents.
What is your favorite color and why? How does it make you feel? Do your company colors accurately reflect the feeling you want to give your customers? Let me know in the comments!