Color is a meaningful constant for sighted people and it's a powerful
psychological tool. By using color psychology, you can send a positive
or negative message, encourage sales, calm a crowd, or make an athlete
pump iron harder.
Employ the latest color psychology in all facets of marketing and particularly
in logo design, web site design, the cover of a book, or the package
of a product.
The field of industrial psychology has a sub-field that studies only
the psychology of color. It is no accident that Campbell's soup has
used the same four colors on their labels for years and years. When
I mentioned that product, I'll bet an image of that label popped into
Below is a quick overview of the meaning of basic colors in the Western
Hemisphere. This information will help you decided what colors to use
in your marketing projects. The psychology of color changes with lighter
or darker shades of the colors below are often associated with much
different meanings. And remember for the World Wide Web, and different
cultures have differing views on the meaning of color.
Psychology of Color: Black
Black is the color of authority and power, stability and strength. It
is also the color associated with intelligence (doctorate in black robe;
black horn rimmed glasses, etc.) Black clothes make people appear thinner.
It's a somber color sometimes associated with evil (the cowboy in the
black hat was almost always the "bad guy"). In the western
hemisphere black is associated with grieving. Black is a serious color
that evokes strong emotions; it is easy to overwhelm people with too
Psychology of Color: White
For most of the world this is the color associated with purity (wedding
dresses); cleanliness (doctors in white coats) and the safety of bright
light (things go bump in the night ... not the bright sunshine!). It
is also used to project the absence of color, or neutrality. In some
eastern parts of the world, white is associated with mourning. White
associated with creativity (white boards, blank slates). It is a compression
of all the colors in the color spectrum.
Psychology of Color: Gray
Gray is most associated with the practical, timeless, middle-of-the-road,
solid things in life. Too much gray leads to feeling mostly nothing;
but a bit of gray will add that rock solid feeling to your product.
Some shades of gray are associated with old age, death, taxes, depression
or a lost sense of direction. Silver is an off-shoot of gray and often
associated with giving a helping hand, strong character (sterling in-fact!).
Psychology of Color: Red
If you want to draw attention, use red. It is often where the eye looks
first. Red is the color of energy. It's associated with movement and
excitement. People surrounded by red find their heart beating a little
faster and often report feeling a bit out of breath. It's absolute the
wrong color for a baby's room but perfect to get people excited. Wearing
red clothes will make you appear a bit heavier and certainly more noticeable.
(Some studies show red cars get more tickets but that maybe because
the red car owners drive faster or the ticket giver notices the movement
of the red car more prominently). Red is not a good color to overuse
but using a spot of red in just the right place is smart in some cases
(one red accent in a otherwise neutral room draws the eye; a red tie
with a navy blue suit and white shirts adds just the right amount of
energy to draw the eye (no wonder it's the "uniform of the day"
at the seats of government). Red is the symbol of life (red blooded
life!) and, for this reason, it's the color worn by brides in China.
Red is used at holidays that are about love and giving (red roses, Valentines
hearts, Christmas, etc.) but the true color of love is pink. Pink is
the most calming of all colors -- often our most dangerous criminals
are housed in pink cells as studies show that color drains the energy
and calms aggression. Think of pink as the color of romance, love, and
gentle feelings, to be in the pink is to be soothed.
Psychology of Color: Blue
Ask people their favorite color and a clear majority will say blue.
Much of the world is blue (skies, seas). Seeing the color blue actually
causes the body to produce chemicals that are calming; but that isn't
true of all shades of blue. Some shades (or too much blue) can send
a cold and uncaring message. Many bedrooms are blue because it's calm,
restful color. Over the ages blue has become associated with steadfastness,
dependability, wisdom and loyalty (note how many uniforms are blue).
People tend to be more productive in a blue room because they are calm
and focused on the task at hand. Some studies are showing that weight
lifters can lift more weight in a blue gym - in fact, nearly all sports
are enhanced in blue surroundings.
Psychology of Color: Green
The color of growth, nature, and money. A calming color also that's
very pleasing to the senses. Dark forest green is associated with terms
like conservative, masculine and wealth. Hospitals use light green rooms
because they too are found to be calming to patients. It is also the
color associated with envy, good luck, generosity and fertility. It
is the traditional color of peace, harmony, comfortable nurturing, support
and well paced energy.
Psychology of Color: Yellow
Cheerful yellow the color of the sun, associated with laughter, happiness
and good times. A person surrounded by yellow feels optimistic because
the brain actually releases more serotonin (feel good chemical in the
brain) when around this color. It is the color associated with optimism
but be careful with yellow, when intense, it is the color of flames
and studies show babies cry more in (bright) yellow rooms and tempers
flare more around that color too. It has the power to speed up our metabolism
and bring out some creative thoughts (legal tablets are yellow for good
reason!). Yellow can be quickly overpowering if over-used, but used
sparingly in the just the right place it can be an effective tool in
marketing to greater sales. Some shades of yellow are associated with
cowardice; but the more golden shades with the promise of better times.
Psychology of Color: Orange
The most flamboyant color on the planet! It's the color tied most this
fun times, happy and energetic days, warmth and organic products. It
is also associated with ambition. There is nothing even remotely calm
associated with this color. Orange is associated with a new dawn in
Psychology of Color: Purple
What color were the robes of kings and queens? Yes, they were purple,
our most royal color that is associated with wealth, prosperity, rich
sophistication. This color stimulates the brain activity used in problem
solving. However, when overused in a common setting it is associated
with putting on airs and being artificial/ Use purple most carefully
to lend an air of mystery, wisdom, and respect. Young adolescent girls
are most likely to select nearly all shades of purple as their favorite
Psychology of Color: Brown
This color is most associated with reliability, stability, and friendship.
More are more likely to select this as their favorite color. It's the
color of the earth itself "terra firma" and what could represent
stability better. It too is associated with things being natural or
organic. Caution however, for in India it is the color of mourning.
Basics on How to Use Color Together
Color psychology is complicated field of study and goes deep into the
meaning of combining colors for a particular desired effect. We will
broad brush some basics that may well enough for you to make good color
choices for a web site with marketing in mind.
Monochromatic Color Scheme
This is the use of a single color in varying shades. This can be a clean
and interesting look on a web site. It's soothing and pleasing to the
eye especially in the blue or green hues.
Complimentary Color Scheme
This is using high contrast of color by selecting colors directly opposite
from one another on the color wheel (such as pink and lime green). This
puts a warm color with a cool color and is pleasing to the eye.
Triple Color Scheme
This scheme uses three colors equally spaced from each other around
a color wheel. It's popular with web designers and allows for a harmonious
You ARE that first flash of color seen on your web site it's important
to remember that color is the first thing registered by a person who
goes to your web site. It that is pleasing, they will read on -- if
it's displeasing you may lose them in a nano second. So first select
your background color and then select two other colors for your web
site. Remember to keep in mind the meaning and harmony of colors.