Countless studies have shown that within just 90 seconds of initial viewing individuals make subconscious judgements about one another, their environments, and the goods they interact with. But what’s interesting to us, is that colour accounts for between 62% and 90% of this evaluation. This is because colours communicate something about brands and their products as well as the people who use them – in both cases about themselves or their desired selves. What do the colours of your clothes, your presentations, your logo, and so on communicate about you or your business? What emotions do they give rise to? How could the psychology of colours be used for your own benefit? Keep reading to find out what people in western culture associate certain colours with.
Red is the colour of extremes. It signals excitement, boldness and energy but also danger or violence which arises from our prehistoric ancestors who saw red as the colour of fire and blood. Red immediately captures attention and therefore it is often used to communicate strength and to achieve a young and relevant brand image.
Compared to red’s warmth and intensity, blue is a cold and slow colour. However, its meaning highly depends on the specific shade of blue. For example, light blue is peaceful and infinite while dark or bright blue signals dependability and cleanliness. Blue is often used for corporate use (e.g. banks, lawyers, insurance brokers etc.) as it communicates loyalty, understanding and trust.
Ever wonder why New York cabs are yellow? Its because yellow has been argued to capture the most attention in comparison to other colours. Furthermore, yellow suggests happiness, fun, youth, creativity, optimism and friendliness. Therefore, this palette is another perfect candidate for targeting a youthful audience but be careful as yellow can also signal cowardice, egoism and hysteria.
Green signifies growth, health, balance and is universally associated with environmentalism. Companies therefore use this colour when trying to imply a link with ecology, and healthiness of their products. Furthermore, it is believed that green can reassure people of the correctness of their judgements.
White and Silver subconsciously signal clarity, purity, and truth. And when used on the right background or in the right context, they can capture one’s attention quite well too. For example, imagine a small line of text in the middle of an otherwise completely white page in a magazine. Would this catch your attention more than your typical noisy advert? We think so.
When you are looking for high quality or luxury, you are statistically more prone to choose that which employs the colour black. This is because black signifies sophistication and prestige. However, think twice before you select this colour as in certain markets black can overtly signal death and wickedness.
Orange, on the other hand, is a very engaging, viral and cheerful colour. It signals ambition and adventure, while also being associated as “a good buy for money”. If you’re targeting innovators or early adopters, or are a mass market product, orange could be the colour for you. But, as always, watch out for negative colour connotations as orange can suggest a lack of seriousness and intellectual values, as well as general bad taste.