What Is Colour Psychology?

Colour psychology is the study of the effects of different colours, hues and shades on human behaviour. This is frequently used in marketing and branding to influence customers mood, perception, attitude and recall.

Some people are relatively sceptical about colour psychology, mainly due to difficulties in testing it. However, research has shown that it takes a person 90 seconds to make an initial impression of something and 62-90% of that time is focused on the assessment of colours. (Singh, 2006) This demonstrates that colours may have a vast impact on first impressions and so this must be taken into consideration in the branding of a product/company.

What about culture?

While there are some similarities in attitudes towards colour across the world, it is important to remember that the majority of claims are based on the perceptions of western culture. It shouldn’t be assumed that a colour will provoke the same emotion in two different countries. For example, yellow conveys happiness and hope in the west but is perceived as the colour of mourning in countries like Ethiopia, Mexico and Egypt.

The following table illustrates the general consensus toward colour in different areas of the world.

Culture in colour psychology

Read more: How to Stand Out by Being Outstanding

Light vs. Dark Colour

Not all shades are created equal! ‘Tints’ (pale shades of a colour) tend to convey a calmer and more peaceful mood. This is demonstrated in the common colour schemes used for spas. On the other hand, ‘shades’ are darker versions of a colour and present a more dangerous and mysterious feeling. For example, colour schemes surrounding Halloween. Further still, when colours are used in their purest, brightest state, they are often interpreted as being energetic and youthful. Keep these colour variations in mind when creating a brand.

The following list shows the western interpretations of various colours and companies who have utilised this in their branding.

Red – Bold, Powerful, Passionate

Colour Psychology Virgin
Colour Psychology Nintendo
Colour Psychology Red Bull

Blue – Calm, Dependable, Balanced, Secure

Colour Psychology IBM
Colour Psychology American Express
Colour Psychology PayPal

Yellow – Optimism, Energy, Decisive

Colour Psychology Dogs Trust
Colour Psychology McDonald's
Colour Psychology Snapchat

Green – Healthy, Natural, Intelligent

Colour Psychology Nuffield Health
Colour Psychology The Body Shop
Colour Psychology Tropicana

Purple – Imaginative, Luxurious, Spiritual, Knowledgeable

Colour Psychology Cadbury
Colour Psychology Aussie
Colour Psychology Hallmark

Orange – Friendly, Loyal, Innovative, Helpful

Colour Psychology Fanta
Colour Psychology Orange
Colour Psychology Nickleodeon

White – Practical, Clean, Simple, Innocent

Colour Psychology WWF
Colour Psychology Apple
Colour Psychology 4od

Brown – Natural, Stable, Comfortable, Dependable

Colour Psychology UPS
Colour Psychology J.P.Morgan
Colour Psychology Cotton

Black – Wealthy, Exclusive, Strong, Professional

Colour Psychology Gucci
Colour Psychology Chanel
Colour Psychology James Bond

Pink – Playful, Feminine, Sensitive, Romantic

Colour Psychology Victoria's Secret
Colour Psychology Cosmopolitan
Colour Psychology Bourjois

How Do I Use Colour Psychology In My Own Brand?

If you already have an existing business, the first thing you need to do is evaluate what colours you currently use and their impact. If you are using more than one colour, how do they work together? Colours look best when they are contrasting, however, you do not want to send mixed messages to clients. Utilise blank space as to not overwhelm.

Now consider what industry you’re in and what emotions you want your clients to associate with your brand. Do you want your customers to feel calm, relaxed and natural? Go for lighter tints in greens and blues. Do you want your customers to feel wealthy and luxurious? Go for richer shades, such as purple and black. Maybe you want your clients to feel energised and bold? Go for a red or a yellow colour scheme.

Once you’ve decided on colours, do some market research and ask different people how that colour scheme makes them feel. If the majority opinion fits with your goals, then hey presto! Only then can you start integrating that into your logo, packaging, interiors, etc.

While this may seem like a long and drawn out process, it really is an important variable in the development of your brand and will be completely worth it!

What colours do you use in your branding? Let us know in the comments!

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