In 1666, Isaac Newton discovered that white light, when passing through a prism, separates into the individual colours of the spectrum. With further experimentation, he was led to see combinations made from the individual colours (such as red and yellow into orange). With all the scientific research made over the years, the study of the psychological effect of colour hasn’t been vastly explored since Newton’s experiments.
It is in the area of marketing where some research has been made on how the mood of a colour can influence consumers emotions and perceptions towards any particular brand or company. While it is true that colour association differs regarding age, gender and culture (where for example in the western world the colour white represents purity, the east see it as a sign of mourning) there is a generally accepted view of what colour produces within marketing.
There have even been developments into the area of chromotherapy (also known as light therapy or colorology) where colour is used in holistic psychological practices as a means of treatment. Archaeological discoveries suggest that the ancient Egyptians and Chinese used this practice as a means of healing. For example, they used red to increase circulation, blue to soothe an illness and yellow to purify the body.
As graphic designers, we must realise that colour is an important part of any particular brand and how it is perceived and in marketing, we need to be more aware of how the colours we choose on our branding makes our customers feel.
Here’s a quick guide to the psychological properties of colour.
Restful green communicates feelings of balance, refreshment, peace and reassurance.
Being a ‘faded red’ colour, pink brings associations with love, femininity, warmth and nurturing.
An intellectual colour that reflects calm, coolness, trust and efficiency. Usually referred to as a cold colour.
A colour often associated with spirituality which brings feelings of vision, authenticity, truth and quality.
A shade that can have more negative connotations than positive as it has a neutral psychological effect! On its own, though it is a depressing colour.
Emotionally based yellow speaks of confidence, optimism, self-esteem and friendliness.
Obviously a split of red and yellow, orange cultivates feelings of passion, abundance, fun and physical comfort. Sophisticated black is glamorous, secure, emotionally safe indicating that there is substance in what you’re seeing.
That being said as individuals we all see these things differently depending on our experiences and where we are in our lives but being aware of colour psychology can affect the way we move forward in branding, marketing and advertising.
Something to think about.