Colors are important in our life and they affect us in more ways than one. In design, knowing what colors to apply increases the possibility of success in conveying your message and chances of being remembered by your audience. This article explores color psychology in design.
Colors play an important role in brand recognition. You can pull up at least three to five logos right now and the first thing you’ll remember aside from their shape are the colors that they used. Fast food giants like McDonald’s, In-and-Out Burger, and Chick-Fil-A all use the colors red and yellow. While social media websites like Facebook and Twitter use varying shades of blue.
Even brands that use their own names as logos have created a strong and bold impact by stripping out colors other than black. Balmain, Dolce and Gabbana, and Louis Vuitton are names of big brands that have ditched their old logo designs to work with a basic black name logo.
What Is Color Psychology?
Color psychology is the study of how color affects the mental and emotional parts of our brain. Despite how much people talk about scientific research regarding color psychology is far and few in between. According to Psychology Today, collecting empirical data is usually close to impossible due to how subjective the matter truly. Factors like one’s life experience up to a certain point in their lives, the media we consume, culture in the region we live, and etc play a big role in how we perceive colors.
However, regardless of this color psychology does exist. It’s also the same reason why regardless of our own subjectivity, many of us believe that black is equal to the dark or yellow brings out joyful feelings, or green is always associated with nature.
Why Color Affects Emotion
Blue is a well-used color among social media applications because it’s very easy on the ease. It’s relaxing and creates a sense of trust among its users. Despite its inclination for being a “boy’s color”, it’s very gender neutral and doesn’t strain the eyes too much – unlike white, red, and even black.
Colors like orange, red, yellow, and everything in between are all warm colors. They’re very happy colors and can give people the energy they need to seize the day. They also provoke hunger and passion within ourselves.
Colors like blue, green, purple, and all the associated ones between them are considered cool colors. They’re usually used to create an atmosphere that is very soothing and soft. When one sees them, they think of nature, the evening skies, and clear waters. Medical and health companies would use blues or greens in their symbols.
Color’s Effect on Performance
Dull and drab colors like gray can sometimes make a person feel unmotivated to do a lot of work. This is why startups and companies established in the past few years are slowly integrating colors into their spaces. Gone are the days where one is trapped between white and gray walls. These colors specifically inspire little to no creativity and are usually used as accents.
Popular colors that are used in offices are red, green, and orange. These positively stimulate their employees and make them feel like they are part not just part of a big corporate machine. Red can also be a good color to use when you want your people to feel motivated in coming in to work but try to not overuse it.
It’s good advice to always conduct color psychology research or find an interior designer whose work is based on creating spaces that are both beautiful and functional. Just because you read here that some colors make people want to go to work more doesn’t mean you paint your room in orange and yellow. They need to be spaced appropriately and accented with the appropriate hues.
Colors can affect our subconscious without our knowing it. In the multiple examples we gave above, red is usually associated with big fast-food chains, it’s only right to automatically assume that research and data have yielded the use of red when it comes to evoking feelings of hunger.
Despite its grimmer associations (death and loss), black is also used to create allure and a sense of class among people and brands.
Colors and the various hues associated with them have different meanings depending on cultural context or what they remind of us. This is why it’s important to understand what one color means in one country versus another.
Image Source: (via Open Source Studio)
Variety recently interviewed the immensely popular South Korean boyband, BTS, for their September 2020 issue. With that, they released a series of alternating covers that put every seven members in the spotlight while also putting their name in big red block letters.
However, after causing a mild uproar in the BTS community on Twitter, Variety saw their faux and automatically corrected their usage of color and replaced red with yellow.
What was the big deal? In countries like China, Japan, and South Korea, writing one’s name in red is a huge taboo and is almost like handing someone their death sentence. This is not too far from the truth, olden times have typically used chicken blood and red ink to keep records of criminal names or to write down death sentences.
Color Psychology and How Color Affects Consumer Behavior
With history, culture, personal tastes, and different associations, it’s not surprising that smart enterprises have taken advantage of color psychology and the use of colors in their marketing. After all, we have read why most social media logos are blue, why fast-food chains use red, and why you should avoid white and gray for your workspace.
Color affects use overtly and subtly which is why we should be careful with the colors we pick. It’s either we go with colors that are closely associated with our products or gamble and pick weird ones.
Image Source: www.praxent.com
Color for Marketing & Advertising
With how they affect consumers, it’s only right that marketers and advertisers use colors. Heavy research and tons of surveys have been done just to check what works and what colors to avoid. After all, colors trigger different emotions for everyone: hunger, joy, and even disgust.
When it comes to your own work, you must do your own studying to understand what colors work well with you.
Conclusion: Exploring Color Psychology in Design
Be mindful of color psychology. Even though scientific research is lacking, we can all agree that color does indeed play a role in how we view a lot of things. Color can boost creativity or it can stifle productivity in your company or home. Appropriately applying colors in different spaces through the use of paint, objects, or accessories is a way to give it personality and spunk.
Take a look at the articles Why Having a Solid Brand Identity Is Essential for Any Business, 5 Golden Design Rules to Follow When Creating Your Company Logo, and
4 Ways Effective Web Design Can Benefit Your SEO Strategy for further reading.