Do you feel happier with a red dress? Does the color blue make you calmer? Or does grey bore you to death? It has long been believed that colors can arouse certain emotions, moods and perceptions. As tacit determinants of human behavior, colors are used as a critical tool not only by artists but also by many industries such as interior design, marketing and branding.
So what is color psychology? Which colors evoke which emotions? Which color should you use for your brand? And, does color psychology always work?
In the modern world, it won’t be wrong to say that color psychology usually works. However, one must always keep in mind that any stereotypical assumptions based on color psychology might hit into barriers of culture, gender or age.
For instance, while purple signifies royalty and luxury in the Western world, it is the color yellow that symbolizes imperial power in Asian cultures. Meanwhile, yellow is mostly associated with death and mourning in Latin America. Alternatively, heterosexual men might find red attractive and heterosexual women might thus think red would boost their attractiveness. However, this effect of red might not be valid in all circumstances or for homosexual people. Therefore, before selecting certain colors for a brand identity, it is advised that one considers such differences of culture, sex, gender and age.
It is an indisputable fact that colors have psychological effects on human behaviour and decisions. Color even evokes or repels taste buds, thus influencing the taste of food.
What color psychology does is to study these impacts of color on behaviour. It analyzes which colors evoke which feelings and why we prefer one color over another. While perceptions of color change depending on various factors such as personal experience, culture and age, some colors have been attributed with universal meanings.
In the modern times, color psychology has become a powerful non-verbal communication tool and an important mechanism that the marketing and advertising industry relies upon.
Colors are perhaps the most vital tools used in marketing and branding. They create the personality of a product and influence how products are perceived by consumers. Therefore, they directly affect the sales of any product or service.
In terms of branding, colors are one of the most important elements of the identity of a brand or product. In a study titled Impact of color on marketing, it has been found that colors can be used to increase or decrease appetite, enhance mood, calm down customers, and reduce perception of waiting time, among others. The study also found out that nearly 90 percent of snap judgments about products can be based on color alone.
Another study measured the effects of colors on perceptions of brand logo appropriateness. This study determined that appropriately and congruently chosen colors for a brand logo bring immediate value.
So which color means what in color psychology? Which color should you choose for your brand logo? Here is a list of meanings of colors in color psychology and marketing:
Red:It is widely believed that the color red evokes strong emotions, symbolizing love and passion. While it is the color of Valentine’s Day products, red increases appetite and therefore is used by many restaurants worldwide. Red also raises heart rate; it is associated by excitement, boldness and attention. This is why many sports car brands use red in their advertisements.
Blue: The color of the sky and the sea is believed to evoke a sense of calm, tranquility, stability, wisdom and most importantly, trust. Many banks, corporations and technology firms use blue in their logos to emphasize the message of reliability. It has been believed that dark blue symbolizes power, expertise and intellect. Blue is also used to promote products related to cleaning. It is also thought of a masculine color.
On the other hand, since it is thought that blue curbs the appetite, food industry usually avoids this color in marketing.
Green: As the color of nature, green symbolizes harmony, balance, growth and safety. It is naturally used for promoting environmental issues and ‘green’ products. As the opposite of red, green gives a feeling of safety. Therefore, it might be used for advertising medical products or drugs. Meanwhile, darker green can be used in advertising financial products as it reminds people of money.
Yellow: Associated with energy, attention, cheerfulness, warmth, happiness and spontaneity, yellow has many specific uses in marketing. Pure yellow is an attention grabber and therefore it is very commonly used in promoting children’s products. However, studies show that overuse of yellow in rooms might make babies cry.
Yellow is also used for warnings, as it stands out when placed against black. It is also the color of taxicabs, which need to stand out in traffic. On the other hand, using pure yellow in advertising products for men is not recommended.
Orange: Combining the energy in red with the happiness of yellow, orange has proved very effective in promoting food products and toys. It symbolizes creativity, attraction, encouragement and stimulation. Studies show that it is accepted among young people.
White: As the color of snow, white is associated with light, purity and cleanliness. It is used in promoting cleaning products, it highlights simplicity in high-tech products and is associated with healthy, low-fat eating. White also brings doctors to mind; therefore it can be used to evoke a feeling of safety in promoting medical products.
Black: Although it is the symbol of darkness and grief, black also suggests luxury, elegance, strength and authority. This is why it is used in the promotion of many luxurious brands.
Apart from marketing, color psychology has been used as a healing method since 2,000 B.C. Also known as chromotherapy or light therapy, color therapy has been practiced in ancient Egypt, Greece, China and India. These ancient cultures believed in the healing power of colors and specific colors were thought to cure or soothe certain medical conditions. After the collapse of these civilizations, color therapy was forgotten and disfavoured for a long time. In the 18th century, interest in color therapy was reborn. However, it is not regarded as a real method by the scientific community.
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