Color psychology is one of the more fascinating sides of marketing. Reds to motivate. Blues to build trust. Oranges for confidence. The visual light spectrum has the power to play our emotional responses like a violin. Color has profound psychological effect on human emotion and thought, behavior and decisions. Colors exercise powerful effects and induce reactions based on both instincts and associations.
Colors alter the meanings of the objects or situations with which they are associated, and color preferences can predict consumers’ behavior. This is why corporations began researching how to use color to get you to spend more. Sometimes color is the sole reason you bought something, and you didn’t even know it. Color directs what you see and how you react.
- Contrasting colors are used help to reduce eye strain and assist you in focusing on specific items.
- The vibrancy of a color can dictate your emotional response.
- Brighter colors cause you to feel more energetic. They promote physical activity and make it seem that time passes slower.
- Darker colors make it easier for you to process data.
- Cooler and softer colors are better for mental activity and make time seem to fly by.
- Monochromatic (single color) color schemes are easy on the eye and provide a sleek and minimalistic look.
- Complementary color schemes use two colors from opposite ends of color wheel to provide a pleasing view.
- Triple color scheme uses three colors equally spaced on the color wheel to provide a harmonious effect on the web page.
- Pure colors are those without the addition of white, black, or a third color. These are intense, bright, and cheery.
- Tints are made when you add white to a color, also known as pastel colors, and they are lighter and paler than pure color.
- Shades are made when black is added to a color. It darkens and dulls the brightness of pure colors.
- Tones are made when grey is added to a pure color. This ‘tones down’ the intensity of color.
- Analogous colors are found next to each other on the color wheel.
- Triad (triangle) – color combination made of three colors evenly spaced on the color wheel.
- Tetradic (rectangle) – color combination of four colors made up of two complementary pairs.
- Square – four colors evenly spaced on color wheel.
How do Colors Influence People? (SmallBizTrends.com)
Primary Colors: Red, Blue, Yellow
Secondary Colors: Purple, Green, Orange
Tertiary Colors: red-purple, red-orange, yellow-green
Red – Creates a sense of urgency, which is good for clearance sales. Encourages appetite, thus is frequently used by fast-food chains. Physically stimulates the body, raising blood pressure and heart rate, associated with movement, excitement, and passion. Shows friendliness and strength along with aggressiveness and negative emotions.
Pink – Softer and less intense than red. Provides compassion an unconditional love. Soothing, caring, romantic, hopeful, understanding, and nurturing. Too much pink is draining and can show a lack of power or immaturity.
Blue – The preferred color of men. It’s associated with peace, water, tranquility, and reliability. Blue provides a sense of security, curbs appetite, and stimulates productivity. The most common color used by conservative brands looking to promote trust in their products. It is one of the last colors to be seen so can be perceived as distant, cold, or unfriendly.
Green – Associated with health, tranquility, power, and nature. Used in stores to relax customers and for promoting environmental issues. Green stimulates harmony in your brain and encourages a balance leading to decisiveness. Lends a clear sense of right and wrong but can be over-possessive and materialistic.
Purple – Commonly associated with royalty, wisdom, and respect. Stimulates problem solving as well as creativity. Frequently used to promote beauty and anti-aging products. Presents the opportunity for introspection and distraction as it causes thoughts to wander.
Orange & Yellow – Cheerful colors that promote optimism. Yellow can make babies cry, while orange can trigger a sense of caution. Used to create a sense of anxiety that can draw in impulsive buyers and window shoppers. Orange is the color of comfort and warmth, motivation, positive attitude, and general enthusiasm. Yellow is joyful, happy, cheerful, inspiring, and optimistic. Yet too much yellow makes us feel critical of ourselves and lowers our self-esteem.
Gold – represents charm, friendliness, abundance, prosperity, confidence, luxury, and treasure. Too much can be egotistical, proud, and self-righteous.
Brown – not visually stimulating but provides structure, stability, support, security, and protection. May seem too reserved, scheduled, or boring. Can be used in place of black when it might be too intense.
Black – Associated with sophistication, seriousness, control, independence, authority, power, stability, and strength. Can also show mystery, evil, and death. Often a symbol of intelligence but can become overwhelming or cause sadness if used too frequently.
Grey – Symbolizes feelings of practicality, old age, and solidarity. But too much grey can lead to feelings of nothingness and depression.
White – Associated with feelings of purity, cleanliness, peace, innocence, and safety. Represents new beginnings and provides a blank slate. Can be used to project an absence of color or neutrality. White space helps spark creativity since it can be perceived as an unaltered, clean state. Too much white can lead to isolation, loneliness, and emptiness.
Color & Word Association (CoSchedule.com)
- Trust: Most chose the color blue (34%), followed by white (21%) and green (11%)
- Security: Blue came out on top (28%), followed by black (16%) and green (12%)
- Speed: Red was overwhelmingly the favorite (76%)
- Cheapness: Orange came first (26%), followed by yellow (22%) and brown (13%)
- High Quality: Black was the clear winner (43%), then blue (20%)
- High Tech: This was almost evenly split, with black the top choice (26%) and blue and gray second (both 23%)
- Reliability: Blue was the top choice (43%), followed by black (24%)
- Courage: Most chose purple (29%), then red (28%), and finally blue (22%)
- Fear/Terror: Red came in first (41%) followed by black (38%)
- Fun: Orange was the top choice (28%), followed closely by yellow (26%) and then purple (17%)
Color Association by Gender (CoSchedule.com)
- Blue is the favored color by both men (57%) and women (35%), though it is more heavily favored by men.
- Men dislike brown the most while women dislike orange the most.
- Colors that were disliked were also seen as “cheap.”
- Men tolerate achromatic colors (i.e. shades of gray) better.
- Women preferred tints while men preferred pure or shaded colors.
- A majority of men (56%) and women (76%) preferred cool colors in general.
- Orange and yellow grow increasingly disliked as both genders get older.
Color Blindness (https://nei.nih.gov)
Most of us share a common color vision sensory experience. Some people, however, have a color vision deficiency, which means their perception of colors is different from what most of us see. The most severe forms of these deficiencies are referred to as color blindness. People with color blindness aren’t aware of differences among colors that are obvious to the rest of us. People who don’t have the more severe types of color blindness may not even be aware of their condition unless they’re tested in a clinic or laboratory.
Inherited color blindness is caused by abnormal photopigments. These color-detecting molecules are located in cone-shaped cells within the retina, called cone cells. In humans, several genes are needed for the body to make photopigments, and defects in these genes can lead to color blindness.
There are three main kinds of color blindness, based on photopigment defects in the three different kinds of cones that respond to blue, green, and red light. Red-green color blindness is the most common, followed by blue-yellow color blindness. A complete absence of color vision —total color blindness – is rare.
Sometimes color blindness can be caused by physical or chemical damage to the eye, the optic nerve, or parts of the brain that process color information. Color vision can also decline with age, most often because of cataract – a clouding and yellowing of the eye’s lens.