The psychology of color is based on the mental and emotional effects colors have on people in all facets of life including cognition and behavior. There are some very subjective pieces to color psychology as well as some more accepted and proven elements. Keep in mind, there are variations in interpretation, meaning, and perception between different cultures. Research also shows, personal preference, experiences, upbringing, cultural differences and context often muddy the effect individual colors have on us. But there’s still plenty to learn and consider if we accept that concrete answers aren’t a guarantee. The key is to look for practical ways to make decisions about color.
Marketers and advertisers are known for utilizing color psychology. The fact that some companies heavily invest in color research and its use shows they have enough belief in color psychology to implement it in their advertising. Color is consistently used to make people hungry, associate a positive or negative tone, encourage trust, feelings of calmness or energy and countless other ways.
Let’s look at some of the common color psychology traits…
Positive keywords: action, speed, attention-getting, assertive, confident, energizing, powerful, passionate, stimulating, driven, courageous, spontaneous, determined, love, sex, physical courage, strength, warmth, energy, basic survival, masculinity, excitement, importance, romance, intensity, youthful, bold, ambition, determination
Negative keywords: aggressive, domineering, over-bearing, tiring, angry, quick-tempered, ruthless, fearful, intolerant, rebellious, obstinate, resentful, violent, brutal, revenge, defiance, strain, danger, blood, war
Energy: Red awakens our physical life force, enhances human metabolism, increases respiration rate, raises blood pressure and prompts the release of adrenalin.
Action: Red is fast moving and promotes a need for action and movement. It is impulsive, giving off the impression of speed and power; making it appear that time is passing faster than it is. Both Netflix and YouTube use red as a primary color.
Desire: Relates to physical desire in all its forms – sexual, appetite, cravings. Used in restaurants for this reason.
Passion: Red means a passionate belief in an issue or undertaking, including passionate love or passionate hate. The more red, the more passion, but don’t overdo it or it will have the opposite effect.
Stimulating: The physical senses – the sexual and physical appetite. It stimulates the deeper passions within us, such as sex, love, courage, hatred or revenge.
Exciting and Motivating: Red excites our emotions and inspires us to act. It is also strong-willed and can give confidence to those who are shy or lacking in will power.
Attention-getting: Red is known to be eye-catching. It demands you to take notice, alerting you to danger, hence its effectiveness in traffic lights and in being the universal color for danger. Overall, if you’re looking to have a powerful presence or get someone’s attention fast, red is your go-to color. In design, red can be a powerful accent color, just like red carpets at awards shows. Although red is not technically the most visible, it has the property of appearing to be nearer than it is and therefore it grabs our attention first.
Assertive and Aggressive: Red is a commanding color, remember to use it sparingly to avoid the extreme negative reactions it can easily awaken. The common saying ‘to see red’ highlights the color’s connection with anger and can activate the ‘fight or flight’ instinct.
Maroon: A dark bluish red, it denotes controlled and more thoughtful action. It is slightly softer than burgundy and not as dramatic as true red.
Burgundy: A dark purplish red, it is more sophisticated and serious and less energetic than true red. It indicates controlled power, determined ambition and dignified action and is often favored by the wealthy.
Crimson: It indicates a determination to succeed but without upsetting anyone else. It emits sensuality rather than sexuality.
Scarlet: Has a little orange mixed with it, giving it a richness and brightness. It indicates enthusiasm and a love of life. It is a little less intense and more fun-loving than true red, tempered with a degree of defiance.
Positive Keywords: Tranquility, warmth, femininity, sexuality, unconditional and romantic love, compassion, understanding, nurturing, hope, calming, sweetness, naiveté, gentle, thoughtful
Negative Keywords: Inhibition, emotional claustrophobia, emasculation, physical weakness, immature, silly, girlish, over-emotional, over-cautious, neediness, unrealistic expectations, being naïve, lack of will power, lack of self-worth, agitation, lack of self-reliance
Love: Pink relates to both unconditional love and romantic love. Pink is a softer, less intense version of red that creates a sense of compassion.
Compassion: It is also known to be very romantic as it shows empathy and sensitivity. While it’s a very physical color, pink soothes rather than stimulates, making it a perfect color for caring, understanding and nurturing those in need.
Nurturing: Empathy and understanding are fuel for pink’s nurturing attributes. Pink puts people in touch with the nurturing side of themselves. If you have a friend who constantly wears pink, it may indicate a need for acceptance, support and unconditional love. Pink can also remind you of earlier childhood memories, associated with nurturing and comfort from your mother.
Hope: Pink inspires the possibility of a positive outcome. It is a positive color inspiring warm and comforting feelings, a sense that everything will be okay.
Good health: Pink can signify good health as being ‘in the pink’ and success as in ‘everything’s rosy’.
Calming: Being a tint of red, pink affects us physically, but it soothes, rather than stimulates by calming and reassuring our emotional energies, alleviating feelings of anger, aggression, resentment, abandonment and neglect. Studies have confirmed that exposure to large amounts of pink can have a calming effect on the nerves and create physical weakness in people. Violent and aggressive prisoners have been successfully calmed by placing them in a pink room for a specified amount of time. However, exposure for too long can have the opposite effect.
Non-threatening: Light pink lacks aggression or anger, although deeper pinks can be more assertive and confident. Pink is a non-threatening color seeking appreciation, respect and admiration. It doesn’t like to be taken for granted and just loves to hear the words ‘thank you’. Pink represents sweetness and innocence of the child in all of us.
Caring/Affectionate: Pink offers warmth and tenderness to friends and family. Sensitivity and tender loving care relate to pink’s color, making the color nurturing and physically soothing.
Immature: If too much pink is used it can be very draining, show a lack of power and immaturity. It is the color of uncomplicated emotions, inexperience and naiveté. A constant and exclusive use of pink can often lead you to become immature and silly, abandoning your adult responsibilities.
Blush: Like skin color, this very pale pink has sensual and sexual connotations. It lacks passion and energy.
Rose Pink: This is the pink of universal love and unity. It is mature, feminine and intuitive.
Salmon Pink: There is a touch of orange in salmon pink. It encourages the flirt, and can be a sign of the timid lover.
Orchid: This is an unusual, non-conformist, lavender-pink relating to the unconventional and an individual doing his/her own thing.
Fuchsia: A blend of deep pink and blue, fuchsia inspires confidence, assurance and maturity, a more responsible and controlled nurturing and love.
Hot Pink: Hot pink inspires a more passionate, playful and sensual love. It exudes warmth and happiness and a love of life.
Positive: Physical comfort, warmth, security, sensuality, passion, abundance, fun, sociable, optimistic, enthusiastic, cheerful, self-confident, independent, flamboyant, extroverted, uninhibited, adventurous, the risk-taker, creative, warm-hearted, agreeable, informal, friendly, energy, happy, excited
Negative: Deprivation, frustration, frivolity, immaturity, superficiality, superficial, insincere, dependent, over-bearing, self-indulgent, exhibitionist, pessimistic, inexpensive, overly proud
Adventure and risk taking: With its enthusiasm for life, orange relates to sportsmen, adventure and risk-taking, inspiring physical confidence, competition and independence. Orange aids in the assimilation of new ideas and frees the spirit of its limitations, giving us the freedom to be ourselves. Orange relates to gut reaction. Those inspired by orange are always on the go.
Social communication and interaction: Orange stimulates two-ways in a dining room when entertaining – it stimulates two way conversations and appetites. Orange is extroverted and uninhibited, often encouraging exhibitionism or showing-off. At the same time, it encourages self-respect and respect of others.
Friendship: Group socializing, parties, the community – wherever people get together to have fun and socialize orange is a good choice. Combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow, associating with joy and sunshine. The optimism of orange helps people move on – it is forward and outward thinking.
Inexpensive: Some research indicates that orange denotes cheapness, but many apps and sites use cheap in a good way.
Motivation: Just like red, orange has a high visibility, so you can use it to catch attention and highlight important elements such as call to action buttons, motivating us to click.
Enthusiasm: Orange is optimistic and extroverted – the color of the uninhibited. A warm and inviting color, it is both physically and mentally stimulating. It is a fun color. Orange is so optimistic and uplifting that we should all find ways to use it in our everyday life. Orange lends a positive attitude, and general enthusiasm for life.
Rejuvenation: Orange helps to restore balance to our physical energies. The color psychology of orange is hopeful and inspirational, rejuvenating our spirit.
Stimulation: Orange, is not as passionate or as excitable as red, but it is stimulating to both our physical and the emotional side. It focuses our minds on issues of physical comfort – food, warmth, shelter etc. Orange stimulates the appetite. If you love having people around the kitchen table, orange will keep them talking and eating for a long time. Many restaurants use pastel versions of orange, such as apricot or deeper versions such as terracotta, for their decor as they are more subtle than red, yet still increase the appetite and promote conversation encouraging patrons to have a good time and to eat and drink more. If you’re trying to lose weight, though, avoid it in your kitchen.
Courage: Orange helps us to take account of our lives, to face the consequences, to take action, make appropriate changes and then to move forward. Orange brings spontaneity and a positive outlook on life and is a great color to use during tough economic times, keeping us motivated and giving us to the strength to look on the bright side of life.
Vitality: Orange has a more balanced energy than red, not as passionate and aggressive, but full of vitality. It helps us to bounce back from disappointments and despair, assisting in recovery from grief. Orange radiates warmth and happiness, combining the physical energy and stimulation of red with the cheerfulness of yellow. Young people respond well to orange as it has a degree of youthful impulsiveness to it.
Deprivation: Negatively, it might focus on the exact opposite – deprivation. This is particularly likely when warm orange is used with black. Equally, too much orange suggests frivolity and a lack of serious intellectual values.
Peach: Peach encourages communication and conversation. It inspires good manners and puts people at ease. It has all the attributes of orange but in a much softer, gentler and more cautious form.
Golden Orange: This version of orange encourages vitality and self-control.
Amber: Amber helps to inspire greater confidence and better self-esteem. It can promote a degree of arrogance.
Burnt Orange: This color emits a negative vibration indicating pride, tension and aggressive self-assertion.
Dark Orange: Dark orange indicates over-confidence and over-ambition. It tries too hard to prove its worth and to boost its self-esteem, but when it fails, which is often, it develops a chip on its shoulder. It is the color of the opportunist, taking selfish advantage of every situation.
Positive keywords: optimism, enthusiasm, fun, good-humored, confidence, originality, creativity, challenging, academic, analytical, wisdom, logical, self-esteem, emotional strength, friendliness, cheerful, sunny, clarity, happiness, laughter, hunger, attention-getting, joy, intellect
Negative keywords: critical, judgmental, overly analytical, impatient, impulsive, egotistical, pessimistic, inferiority complex, spiteful, cowardly, deceitful, non-emotional, lacking compassion, irrationality, fear, emotional fragility, depression, anxiety, suicidal, intensity, frustration, angry
Mind and intellect: Yellow is the color of the mind and the intellect. It stimulates our mental faculties by activating the left/analytical brain, stimulating our mental faculties and creating mental agility, muscle energy and perception. Yellow relates to acquired knowledge. Yellow is the scientist, constantly analyzing, looking at both sides before deciding; methodical and decisive.
Happiness and fun: Yellow is uplifting to the spirits; it helps create enthusiasm for life and can awaken greater confidence and optimism. Psychologically the happiest color in the color spectrum, Yellow is the epitome of joy, happiness, cheerfulness, optimism—you name it, anything happy is almost always yellow. Yellow is the best color to create enthusiasm for life and can awaken greater confidence. Yellow is the entertainer, the comic, the clown. The right yellow will lift our spirits and our self-esteem, producing a warming effect and arousing cheerfulness.
Communication: Yellow is related to the expression and integration of new ideas and thoughts. It is the great communicator and loves to talk. Yellow is the color of the networker and the journalist, all working and communicating on a mental level. Did you know yellow is the first color infants respond to?
Creative: The color of new ideas, yellow helps us find new ways of doing things from a mental aspect.
Quick decisions: Yellow helps with clear thinking and quick decision-making, but it can also be impulsive. Yellow helps us focus, study and recall information, useful during exam times.
Anxiety producing: Yellow is fast moving causing too much time in its presence to agitate oneself, leading to self-esteem issues, fear, anxiety and emotional instability. Find the right balance of yellow to motivate rather than bring others down. If you are going through a lot of change in your life you may find you can’t tolerate yellow very well. It just means that you are having trouble coping with all the changes at the moment and yellow vibrates too fast for you, making you feel stressed. Many older people don’t respond well to large amounts of yellow because it vibrates too fast for them. Too much of it, or the wrong tone in relation to the other tones in a color scheme, can cause our “yellow streak” to surface. It is known that babies cry more in yellow rooms.
Attention Grabbing: In design, yellow is very effective for attracting attention, making it a color often used for warning signs (it can be associated with danger, though not as strongly as red). Yellow is seen before other colors when placed against black gaining attention. A New York taxi cab is bright, pure yellow and an attention getter, which is the reason it is painted this color. Yellow is the most highly visible of all colors which is why it is used for pedestrian crossings. Note crossings marked in white – they are less easy to see than those marked yellow, particularly on wet and cloudy days.
Critical: Yellow is related to the ego and our sense of self-worth, to how we feel about ourselves and how we are perceived by others. It can make people more mentally, analytical and self-critical of both themselves and others.
Non-emotional: Yellow is non-emotional, relating to the head, not the heart. Yellow depends on itself, preferring to not get emotionally involved.
Light Clear Yellow: This color helps to clear the mind, making it open and alert.
Lemon Yellow: Lemon yellow promotes self-reliance and a need for an orderly life. Yellow increases our sensitivity to criticism.
Citrine Yellow: Citrine is a superficial and fickle color. It encourages the serial relationship hopper, the teaser with unstable emotions. This yellow can be deceitful and retreats from responsibility.
Golden Yellow: This yellow is the color of the loner with an intense curiosity and interest in investigating the finer details of its interests. Golden yellow is sensitive to criticism.
Cream: Cream, tinted with a hint of yellow, encourages new ideas. However, this very pale color can also indicate a lack of confidence and a need for reassurance.
Dark Yellow: The darker shades of yellow indicate an inclination toward depression and melancholy, lack of love and low self-worth. Dark yellow relates to the constant complainer and the cynic.
Positive Keywords: Harmony, balance, refreshment, universal love, rest, restoration, reassurance, environmental awareness, equilibrium, peace, self-reliance, growth, vitality, renewal, reliability, dependability, tactful, calm, family oriented, practical, sympathetic, compassionate, nurturing, generous, kind, adaptable, success, natural, money, health, tranquility, fertility, trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, truth
Negative Keywords: Boredom, stagnation, blandness, enervation, possessiveness, materialistic, indifferent, over-cautious, envious, selfish, greedy, miserly, devious with money, inconsiderate, inexperienced, hypochondriac
Harmony and balance: Green is the great balancer of our mental, emotional and physical energies, creating equilibrium between the head and the heart, which is why there is so much green on our planet. It is the heart center of the body. It lends us a clearer sense of right from wrong since green incorporates a balance of both the logical and emotional. It has a more positive affect than most other colors, strongly associated with tranquility, slowing human metabolism and producing a calming effect. Green’s balance lends itself to calls-to-action. Saturated green colors are exciting and dynamic to the eyes, grabbing a lot of attention. Therefore, they work well for call to action buttons.
Growth: As in nature, green leaves are an indication the plant is still growing. It is also the color of Spring, of renewal and rebirth. It renews and restores depleted energy. Green also indicates growth in our income and wealth.
Hope: Green is the anticipation of things to come. This color relates to stability and endurance, giving us persistence and the strength to cope with adversity.
Nature: Green promotes a love of nature, since most plants are green. Being the color of a garden lover, it symbolizes growth, harmony, freshness, and fertility. Color of the sea. Green is one of the most-seen colors in nature reflecting life, rest, and peace. When the world contains plenty of green, this indicates the presence of water and little danger of famine, so we are reassured by green, on a primitive level.
Rejuvenating: Green revitalizes us when we are physically, mentally or emotionally exhausted. It has great healing power. Overall, if you’re looking to portray health, rest, and to relieve stress, green is your color. It is the sanctuary away from the stresses of modern living, restoring us back to a sense of well-being. This is why there is so much of this relaxing color on the earth, and why we need to keep it that way.
Nurturing: Because of its link with the heart, green urges us to nurture others unconditionally. Green is also nurturing to us – it is an emotionally positive color.
Dependable, agreeable and diplomatic: Green helps us to see situations clearly from all sides. It loves to observe, and therefore relates to the counselor, the good listener, the social worker, the good parent, the helpful neighbor and the natural peacemaker. The color has a strong sense of right or wrong, inviting good judgment. It sees both sides of the equation, weighs them up and then usually takes the moral stand in making appropriate decisions. On the negative side, it can be judgmental and over-cautious.
Possessiveness: Green is a color that encourages us to want to own things and people, to collect and possess. Green encourages materialism.
Envy: ‘Green with envy’ is a common phrase and a negative reaction to the color green. Green is the color of prosperity and abundance of finance and material wealth. It relates to the business world, to real estate and property. Dark green is also commonly associated with money.
Pale green: As the color of new growth on plants, it indicates immaturity, youthfulness and inexperience. It allows us to see things from a new perspective, to make a fresh start.
Emerald green: This is an inspiring and uplifting color suggesting abundance and wealth in all its forms, from material well being, to emotional well being to creative ideas.
Jade green: The color of trust and confidentiality, tact and diplomacy, jade green indicates a generosity of spirit, giving without expecting anything in return. It increases worldly wisdom and understanding, assisting in the search for enlightenment.
Lime green: Lime green inspires youthfulness, naivety and playfulness; it is liked the most by younger people. It creates a feeling of anticipation, and helps to clear the mind of negativity.
Dark green: There is a degree of resentment in dark green. Often used by wealthy businessmen, ambitious and always striving for more wealth, dark green signifies greed and selfish desire.
Aqua: Aqua calms the spirit, offering protection and healing for the emotions.
Olive green: Although the traditional color for peace, ‘offering an olive branch’, the color olive suggests deceit and treachery, blaming others for its problems. However, there is also a strength of character with it that can overcome adversity to develop an understanding and caring of the feelings of others.
Yellow green: This color green suggests cowardice, conflict and fear.
Grass green: It is self-confident and secure, natural and healthy, occurring in abundance in nature.
Positive Keywords: intelligence, communication, trust, efficiency, serenity, duty, logic, reflection, calm, loyalty, trust, integrity, tactful, reliability, responsibility, conservatism, perseverance, caring, concern, idealistic, authority, devotion, contemplation, peaceful, dependable, strength, comfort, relaxation, wisdom, focused, stability
Negative Keywords: coldness, aloofness, lack of emotion, unfriendliness, being rigid, deceitful, spiteful, depressed, sad, too passive, self-righteous, superstitious, emotionally unstable, too conservative, predictable, weak, unforgiving, frigid, manipulating, unfaithful, untrustworthy, un-appetizing, uncaring
Communication: Blue relates to one-on-one verbal communication and self-expression – it is the teacher, the public speaker. It hates confrontation, and likes to do things in its own way. Blue enhances self-expression and our ability to clearly communicate our needs and wants.
Peace and calm: The color blue is mentally soothing, inducing a calm and a peace within us, particularly the deeper shades. It slows the metabolism. For that reason alone, it’s one of the most-liked colors across the entire world. Unlike red, blue lends a more mental reaction rather than physical that allows us to destress, calm down, and think of the most ideal situation. Soft blues will calm the mind and aid concentration.
Honesty: Overall, blue is a well-liked color that can bring a sense of trust and dependability when building relationships, especially in marketing. Its success is defined by the quality and quantity of its relationships – It is a giver, not a taker. It likes to build strong trusting relationships and becomes deeply hurt if that trust is betrayed. This dependence also translates into inherent trust, which is why it’s often used by banks.
Authority and strength: The darker blue, the more authority it has. You can rely on blue to take control and do the right thing in difficult times. In design, the exact shade of blue you select will have a huge impact on how your designs are perceived – the paler the blue the more freedom we feel.
Religion: Blue is the color of the spirit, devotion and religious study. It enhances contemplation and prayer. On the other hand, blue’s devotion can be to any cause or concept it believes in, including devotion to family or work.
Wisdom: Blue enhances the wisdom of the intellect. Blue’s wisdom comes from its higher level of intelligence, a spiritual perspective.
Conservative: Blue is a safe color and non-threatening – the most universally liked color of all. It doesn’t like to make a fuss or draw attention.
Predictable: Blue is not impulsive or spontaneous and it doesn’t like to be rushed. Rather it needs to analyze and think things through, working towards a plan.
Orderly: Blue needs to have direction and order, including its living and work spaces.
Rigid: Blue likes familiarity. It doesn’t like change and will stubbornly do things its own way, even if there is a better way. It is inflexible and when faced with a new or different idea, it considers it, analyzes it, thinks it over slowly and then tries to make it fit its own acceptable version of reality.
Cold: Unfortunately, it also is one of the last colors to be seen and can be perceived as distant, unemotional, cold, or unfriendly if used it great amounts.
Pale Blue: Pale blue inspires creativity and the freedom to break free.
Sky Blue: One of the calmest colors, sky blue inspires selfless love and fidelity. It is non-threatening and promotes a helpful nature that can overcome all obstacles. It is the universal healer.
Azure Blue: A color of true contentment, azure inspires determination and ambition to achieve great things, a sense of purpose in striving for goals.
Dark Blue: Dark blue is the color of conservatism and responsibility. Although it appears to be cool, calm and collected, it is the color of the non-emotional worrier with repressed feelings, the pessimist and the hypocrite. Dark blue can be compassionate but has trouble showing it as its emotions run deep. Dark blue is a serious masculine color representing knowledge, power, and integrity, and is used quite often in the corporate world.
Positive keyword: unusual, individual, creative, inventive, psychic, intuitive, humanitarian, selfless, unlimited, mystery, fantasy, futuristic, luxury, authenticity, truth, quality, royalty, wealth, sophistication, wisdom, exotic, spiritual, prosperity, respect
Negative keywords: immaturity, impractical, cynical, aloof, pompous, arrogant, fraudulent, corrupt, delusions of grandeur, introversion, decadence, suppression, inferiority
Inspiration: Original and sound ideas are created with purple – use it when looking for inspiration during brainstorming sessions. Violet encourages creative pursuits and seeks inspiration and originality through its creative endeavors.
Imagination: It’s a very intriguing color as it soothes, but also presents space for mystery and new ideas. Therefore, creativity is most often associated with the color purple. When using purple, avoid using it too often as it can also cause too much introspection or distraction as thoughts begin to wonder. It stimulates the imagination and inspires high ideals. The color violet relates to the fantasy world, and a need to escape from the practicalities of life. It is the daydreamer escaping from reality. An interesting fact is almost 75 percent of children prefer purple to all other colors and view it as a happy color.
Individuality: Violet is unconventional, individual and original. It hates to copy anyone else and likes to do its own thing. It likes to be unique, individual and independent, not one of the crowd. Artists, musicians, writers, poets and psychics are all inspired by purple.
Spirituality: Purple assists us during prayer and meditation, it expands our awareness, connecting us to a higher consciousness. For this reason, it is associated with transformation of the soul and the philosophers of the world are often attracted to it. It possesses the energy and power of red, with the stability and reliability of blue, making it a perfect balance between the physical and spiritual. Churches often feature violet in their stained-glass windows. From a negative perspective, it can relate to the cult follower.
Wealth: The color purple is specifically associated with royalty and the nobility, creating an impression of luxury, wealth and extravagance. Purple’s rarity in nature and the expense of creating the color has given purple a special role in design. Purple insinuates that a product or site is high-end, even if it’s not.
Empathy: Compassion, kindness and a love of humanity are positive qualities of violet. The color purple inspires selfless love, devoid of ego, encouraging sensitivity. Violet can be sensitive to all the different forms of pollution in the world today, whether it be air pollution, noise pollution or visual pollution. This sensitivity makes purple susceptible to illness and allergies, vulnerable to its everyday surroundings.
Controlled emotion: Violet is passionate, like red, but inclined to display it in private only. Combines the stability of blue and the energy of red.
Respectable and distinguished: The darker shades of purple particularly are linked to royalty and the wealthy. Purple has power. It has a richness and quality to it that demands respect. It is ambitious and self-assured, the leader.
Impractical: Violet can be impractical, with its head in the clouds rather than having its feet on the ground. It tends to see life as it imagines it, rather than how it is.
Immature: Purple can be immature, encouraging fantasy and an idealism that is often difficult to achieve in real life.
Dignity: Violet exudes a quiet modest form of dignity which is often appealing to others.
Depression: Too much of the color purple can promote or aggravate depression in some. It is one color that should be used extremely carefully and in small amounts by those who are vulnerable to these depressed states.
Lavender: Lavender is a light purple color with a bluish hue, a light violet color. It is a color that is attracted to beautiful things. It has a fragility, sensitivity and vulnerability to it.
Lilac: Lilac is a pale muted violet color with a slightly pinkish hue. It implies immaturity, superficiality and youthfulness. It is extroverted and enthusiastic, inspiring glamour, romance and vanity.
Mauve: Mauve fits somewhere between lavender and lilac. Helps us to make the best choices and decisions; it is concerned for justice to be done and always does the right thing. On the other hand, it can indicate a degree of commonness, the social climber aspiring to higher ideals.
Amethyst: A mystical color, amethyst opens intuitive channels. It protects the vulnerable and assists the humanitarian. It is the color of the evolved soul.
Plum: Plum is a reddish purple. An old-fashioned color, plum is honorable and linked to family traditions. It is also prudish and narrow-minded, always preaching at you.
Deep Purple: Dark purple is related to higher spiritual attainment. A powerful color, it can also indicate arrogance and ruthlessness.
Positive Keyword: sophistication, glamour, security, emotional safety, efficiency, substance, protection, containment, formal, seductive, mysterious, affluence, seriousness, elegance, power, strength, intelligence, slimming
Negative Keyword: oppression, coldness, menace, heaviness, aloof, depressing, pessimistic, secretive, withholding, conservative, control, sadness, negativity, death, mourning, evil
Mystery: Black is the color of the hidden, the secretive and the unknown, creating an air of mystery. It keeps things bottled up inside, hidden from the world. Black is often associated with sexiness and seduction, as in the temptress in sexy black lingerie creating an air of mystery and intrigue. It can also imply submission to another.
Power and Control: Black is power and control of oneself and others, hanging on to information and things rather than giving out to others. It radiates authority, creating fear and intimidation. Black is the strongest of all colors, attracting attention quickly, which is why it’s most commonly used for text and accents. Unfortunately, since it’s a very powerful color, too much black can cause sadness and overall negativity, so use it sparingly and in your text more so than the visuals itself. It can prevent two-way communication because of its intimidation.
Formal, dignified and sophisticated: Black is a prestigious color, as in the ‘little black dress’ or ‘the black-tie event.’ People who like black may be conventional, conservative and serious, or they may think of themselves as being sophisticated or very dignified. Black creates a perception of weight and seriousness. Affluent and success women often choose black giving them the impression of elegance, sophistication and confidence.
Aloof: Black sets itself aside from others with its heavy and intense energy. It keeps others at arm’s length. It creates a barrier between itself and the outside world, providing comfort while protecting its emotions and hiding its vulnerabilities, insecurities and lack of self-confidence. We all use black at various times to hide from the world around us in one way or another. Some of us use it to hide our weight, others among us use it to hide our feelings or our insecurities.
Depressing and pessimistic: Black can close us from the positive aspects of life, forcing us to look at our disappointments or our negative aspects of life. The symbol of grief. Too much black encourages fear and the unknown (black holes). Black can have a negative connotation – blacklist, black humor, ‘black death.’
Positive keywords: reliable, conservative, dignified, neutral, impartial, professional, mature, intelligent, classic, solid, stable, calming, subdued, reserved, elegant, formal, dependable, neutrality, balanced, timeless, practical
Negative keywords: indecisive, non-emotional, indifferent, boring, sad, depressed, lifeless, lonely, isolated, lack of confidence, dampness, depression, hibernation, lack of energy
Neutrality: Gray is impartial and dispassionate, it doesn’t take sides, representing neutrality. The color gray is subdued, quiet and reserved. It does not stimulate, energize, rejuvenate or excite. Most people are indifferent to gray. It’s a safe color to use with other colors. Like white, you can use a gray background to make other colors stand out due to its neutral nature.
Conformity: Gray conforms – it is conventional, dependable and practical. It is a color of maturity and responsibility, associated with the gray hair of old age. It will never be the center of attention or the dynamic leader – it is too safe and toned down.
Compromise: Gray is the transition between two non-colors, neither black nor white. It takes the middle ground, neither one way nor the other.
Control: It has a steadying effect on other colors around it. Gray is controlled. Being both motionless and emotionless, gray is solid and stable, creating a sense of calm and composure, relief from a chaotic world. It has a steadying effect on other colors with which it comes into contact, toning down the stronger and brighter colors and illuminating the softer colors.
Indecision: Gray prefers to sit in the middle, not making a decision either way, sitting on the fence. It is unemotional and detached, making it indecisive.
Detached and unemotional: Being non-emotional, gray can appear indifferent, uncaring, cold and aloof. The color gray is an unemotional color making it feel neutral, disinterested or impartial.
Depression: Gray can stifle and depress energy, but it is also the stable base from which the new and positive can come. Too much of the color gray creates sadness and depression and a tendency to loneliness and isolation. Add some color with gray to change this.
Light gray: Light gray is soothing and calming. It enlightens, saves and rescues those in difficult life situations.
Dark gray: Dark gray is conventional and constrained. It is serious and solemn, inflexible and strict. It relates to self-denial and self-discipline.
Positive Keywords: seriousness, warmth, nature, earthiness, reliability, down-to-earth, wholesome, practical, approachable, friendly, stable, structured, supportive, comforting, protective, quietly confident, sensitive, reassured, honest, sincere, quality, security, organic
Negative Keywords: lack of humor, heaviness, lack of sophistication, dull, boring, frugal, materialistic, lack of humor, predictable, cheap, stingy, sadness, mourning (in some cultures/societies)
Stability: Brown, while maybe not the most visual stimulating color, is a great sign of stability, security and protection. Whether it’s family, friends or material possessions, brown offers constant support. Brown is solid with strength and maturity. Brown does not seek attention – it prefers to stay in the background, allowing other colors around it to shine.
Structure: Brown is a color of structure, although by no means does it encourage perfectionism – rather it encourages orderliness and organization. It is a solid, reliable color and most people find it quietly supportive – more positive than the ever-popular black, which is suppressive, rather than supportive.
Security: Safe and protective – a refuge from the chaos of the outside world and a sense of belonging. Relating to the protection and support of the family unit, with a keen sense of duty and responsibility, brown takes its obligations seriously.
Natural and wholesome: Brown has associations with the earth and the natural world. Brown is a predominant color on the planet, along with green. It has elements of the red and yellow properties. The color brown is associated with wholesome, natural and organic produce and anything related to the great outdoors, agriculture and farming.
Serious: Brown has much of the same seriousness as black, but is warmer and softer. It’s a down to earth color you can use where black might be too intense.
Comforting: Sensual and warm, friendly and approachable, brown engulfs one in a feeling of calm and safety. It is a color of physical comfort, simplicity and quality – a comfortable home, the best food/drink and loyal companionship. It is sensual, sensitive and warm, engulfing one in a feeling of calmness and comfort.
Protective: Brown creates a safe haven of support for family and friends. It also suppresses the emotions, creating a haven from the stresses of the outside world within which problems can be contemplated and solved. The downfall to brown is that it’s the safest color and can seem reserved, scheduled and boring. Overall, use it when necessary, but don’t depend on it too heavily.
Materialistic: Brown encourages material security and the accumulation of possessions. While it is materialistic, it values quality above all else and everything in moderation.
Light Brown: is friendly, approachable, sincere, honest and genuine
Dark brown: is strong yet sad and depressive, materialistic yet prudent
Tan: is timeless, straightforward, uncomplicated and natural
Ivory: is calming, yet encouraging, with a reserved style of simple sophistication
Beige: is practical, reliable, conservative, constant, unchanging and loyal
Positive Keywords: hygienic, sterility, clarity, purity, simplicity, sophistication, efficiency, innocence, purity, cleanliness, equality, complete, whole, immaculate, neat, self-sufficient, pristine, open, new beginnings, health, virtue, sense of space, neutrality, light, goodness, perfection
Negative Keywords: sterility, coldness, barriers, unfriendliness, elitism, sterile, stark, fastidious, empty, isolated, cautious, plain, distant, unimaginative, critical, boring, mourning (in some cultures/societies)
Innocence and purity: White is the beginning of everything, before anything is muddied or thinking is ‘colored’. White is color that is complete and pure, making it a perfect example of purity, innocence, cleanliness, peace and the ultimate of purity. This is why it is traditionally worn by western brides, and the reason why doctors wear white jackets.
New beginnings: White represents the clean slate, allowing us to put the past behind us and preparing us to move on. While white isn’t stimulating to the senses, it opens the way for the creation of anything the mind can conceive. In some cultures, death usually means the end of one life and the beginning of another, moving forward to a new life.
Sterile: White is pure and, like black, uncompromising; it is clean, hygienic, and sterile. The concept of sterility can also be negative. White in a doctor’s office can give the feeling of sterility and coldness of emotions and may lead patients to think the doctor or dentist won’t relate to them on an emotional and personal level. It can be too clinical and sterile.
Equality and unity: White represents the positive as well as the negative aspects of all colors. It contains an equal balance of all the colors of the spectrum. Its basic feature is equality, implying fairness and impartiality, neutrality and independence. It is interesting to note that babies come into the world with a perfect balance of white, ready to imprint their lives with all the colors of the spectrum from all their life experiences.
Rescuer: White rescues us from the dark. It is the white knight, rescuing the damsel in distress. White offers an inner cleansing and purifying of your thoughts, emotions and, ultimately your spirit, refreshing and strengthening your entire energy system.
Efficient: White is clean and clinical, creating a sense of order and efficiency – a great help if you need to declutter your life. White is used in many medical practices such as dental surgeries and doctors’ rooms as an indication of cleanliness and proficiency.
Loneliness: Avoid using too much white as it can cause isolation, loneliness, and emptiness, providing little stimulation for the senses, making you feel as though you can’t make a move for fear of upsetting it or creating a mess. While there are very few negative connotations to white, particularly in western culture, too much white can be cold, isolating and empty.
Color psychology is a very important tool used by artists, interior decorators, and as a marketing mechanism in many industries. It is the palette used by Dali that makes his artwork bizarre, and amplifies the hyper-realism he intends to create.
There are no clear-cut guidelines for choosing your brand’s colors. “It depends” is a frustrating answer, but it’s the truth. However, the context you’re working within is an essential consideration. It’s the feeling, mood, and image that your brand or product creates that matters. Every human being has different emotions attached to different colors, the universal significance of colors may or may not work in these cases.
Bottom line being, color psychology and associations are an interesting part of the complex working system of our brain, yet with so many scientific questions about it still left unanswered, and differences in cultural attachments to colors, it can only be utilized through observation and experience of how color has influenced brains over the years.
“There are no wrong colors. What matters most is how to use them.” – Material Design quote