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The Meaning, Symbolism and Psychology of Colour

shutterstock_94106791When people walk down the street, they see more than just a retail business or office, marketing materials, business stationery, product packaging, and clothing. What they also notice is the colours in which these things are presented.

Psychology of colour

Colour has a powerful subconscious effect on the way people perceive things, such as a brand and their products or services. Because colour can influence the way people think, feel and act, understanding the psychology of colour will enable you to get the best response to your marketing efforts and create a successful business.

It’s important that you choose the right dominant colour for your brand, as well as a complementary colour to produce the best effect. Choose a colour that sets you apart from your competition, works well with your industry and image, and ties to your brand promise. Furthermore, it must also take into account colour psychology.

When choosing colour, think about how you want people to think, feel, and act in order to achieve your business goals.

Meanings of colours

Colours can have different meanings in different cultures, situations and industries, but they do have some universal meanings, which are explained below:

  • redRed – It’s a physical colour that signifies a call to action, as well as power and passion. It’s strong, energetic, provocative, and attention-grabbing. Red can also be linked to excitement and courage. But it can represent danger, indebtedness and aggressiveness too. It also reduces analytical thinking and therefore makes it hard to concentrate.
  • orangeOrange – Orange is an adventurous colour, inspiring and creating enthusiasm. It’s perceived as sociable and optimistic. Orange also indicates playfulness and physical comfort and is associated with good value. Light orange appeals to the upscale markets. Peach tones suit healthcare facilities, restaurants, and beauty salons.
    • yellowYellow – Not many people are a big fan of yellow, but it’s an illuminating and uplifting colour, implying fun and friendliness. Some shades of yellow even motivate and stimulate creativity. It’s usually associated with the sun, communicating optimism, positivism, light and warmth. Bright yellow is terrific for point-of-purchase displays.
  • greenGreen – It symbolises nature, health and healing or regrowth. It also signifies youthfulness, serenity, and universal love. Green balances the emotions and inspires compassion. It can also spark creativity and is linked with broader thinking. Deep green is often associated with wealth or prestige and light green is calming.
  • blueBlue – It implies honesty, trust, dependability, fiscal responsibility and security. It can be seen as calm and logical. Blue is associated with the sky and sea, signifying serenity. It’s also well-liked, so it’s the safest colour to use in most applications. It’s a popular colour among financial institutions.
  • purplePurple – Purple is a mysterious, sophisticated, spiritual, and royal colour. It works well with other colours, implying wealth, quality, creativity and fantasy, so it’s well-liked by creative people. Purple also represents luxury and whimsicality. Lavender evokes nostalgia and sentimentality.
  • pinkPink – Depending on the shade of pink, it can be seen as sweet or sexy. Hot pink conveys energy, youthfulness, fun and excitement, which makes it a great colour trendy female products. Dusty pink appears sentimental, while light pink is romantic. Pink also inspires compassion and nurturing and calms people down, so it’s great for mediations and boardroom conversations.
  • shutterstock_123618532Gold – It’s usually associated with value, luxury and prestige, thus reflecting wisdom, beauty and generosity.
  • shutterstock_68338006Silver – Silver is a modern, sophisticated and mysterious colour that can both calm and uplift the senses.
  • blackBlack – It’s a serious, bold and classic colour, connoting sophistication and dramatic flair. It also signifies exclusivity and glamour. Used in the right amount, black can be a powerful and authoritative colour, but too much would make it seem intimidating and unfriendly. Black works well with expensive products, but it can also make them appear heavy.
  • White – It represents a blank canvas, awaiting creative stimulation and implying efficiency, simplicity, fairness and order. White also connotes cleanliness and purity. It has a modern appeal with its clean, sleek appearance. People view white as a brilliant colour, so it’ll grab their attention straight away. But too much white may lead to boredom and cause people’s minds to wander off. White is often used for infant and health-related products.
  • greyGrey – It’s a neutral and conservative colour, making it a great background for other colours. It implies security and reliability.
  • brownBrown – Brown is a strong and reassuring colour, suggesting comfort, warmth, dependability, safety, and reliability. But brown can also be seen as being dirty or hiding dirt, while terracotta brown conveys an upscale look. Brown suits businesses promoting down-to-earth and outdoor products or activities, or trucking and industrial businesses.

Colours can also be divided into two categories: warm and cold. A warm colour (e.g. red, orange or yellow) sends an outgoing and energetic message, whereas a cool colour (e.g. blue, green or purple) is calm and reserved. A cool colour can be brightened, however, to make it more vibrant and less reserved.

Overall, it’s important to understand the meanings of colours when establishing your business profile and consider their significance in marketing and branding. After all, the colours you use will say a lot about your business. Using the right colours and using them properly can help create a positive image among consumers, deliver your message as intended, and make people remember your brand.