The meanings of colours
Updated: Oct 15, 2019
Stand out thanks to the emotional cue of colours!
In an ocean of content, colours can be the answer to make you stand out!
Colour psychology can be used and must be used to help you build a strong brand identity and reach the right customers. You may not be aware that colour plays an important role in how your brand is perceived. However, colour stimulates our eye, and sends our brain an interpretation. Basically, it puts content into context. In this article, we will share with you the meanings and effects of colours on brain. Even though we don’t all react the same way to colours, there are a few generalities about how people respond to colours, and that’s exactly what we are going to explain to you.
Red is a powerful and dynamic colour that can capture attention really quickly.
The meanings associated with this colour are: passion, love, danger, excitement, energy.
It’s a great colour to use for a call to action button. In colour psychology, red is the most intense colour. Just remember to use it sparingly to avoid the negative impact it can so easily trigger.
You can find this colour in brands like Coca-Cola or Youtube. Those two use the red colour to create excitement. Coca-Cola associates the red colour with the word “happiness” to build this feeling of excitement in the same way as Youtube uses red for the play button of their logo due to the excitement of watching videos online.
One of the most-liked colours across the entire world. Blue meanings are: stability, peace, harmony, calm, trust.
Unlike red, blue tends to bring a mental reaction that allows viewers to destress, calm down and think of the most ideal situation as blue is closely linked to sea and sky.
On the other hand, if not carefully used, it can be perceived as distant, cold or unfriendly. In most cases, blue is a well-liked colour that brings trust when building relationships, especially in marketing.
Facebook, Twitter and Skype use blue in their marketing campaigns, as well as Intel, Pay Pal and Outlook do; it helps to position the brand as trustworthy, reliable and relaxing. Some healthcare brands like OralB also use blue in their branding to help people associate the brand with a high-quality and safe product.
Yellow is the colour of joy, cheerfulness, positivity, happiness and optimism. (les autres ne sont pas en gras au-dessus)
This colour is the easiest colour to be seen (It’s the first colour infants respond to!) you can associate it to positive call to action boxes on your website such as free shipping, or free download. Therefore, use this colour smartly cause it’s also known to make us feel fear or anxiety. Try to always find the right balance, yellow is a powerful colour to motivate and inspire.
Chupa Chups or McDonald's use yellow mixed with red to bring this feeling of excitement and happiness while consuming their products. Ikea uses yellow and blue, it makes them trustworthy as their clients are usually people who’ve just moved into a new place and who need to furnish their homes. This turning point is usually filled with happiness and optimism making yellow the perfect match for Ikea.
Green indicates growth, fertility, health and generosity, but badly used it can bring the negative meanings of envy, over-possession and materialism, although as a whole it has a more positive effect than other colours.
The use of green is popular with environment-oriented brands, but we also find this colour in popular brands like Starbucks or Android. They use it to give a positive and natural image to their brands.
Creativity, enthusiasm, success, adventure are the perfect words to translate the positive impact of orange. It’s a colour of motivation which points to a positive attitude. Despite the fact that it’s an attractive colour, it’s not as commanded as the colour red, it will be perfect to add a bit of fun to your visuals.
The children’s TV channel Nickelodeon spotlights the creativity and enthusiasm displayed in their programs by using orange in its branding. GSK, the pharmaceutical company also uses this colour as evidence of their success and the adventure they undertake with enthusiasm to develop solutions for people's health.
This colour suggests power, nobility, luxury, wisdom and spirituality. It possesses the energy and power of red with the stability and reliability of blue. Don’t overuse it in your design as it could be perceived as arrogant.
Brands like Hallmart or Yahoo use this colour, but only in their logo, if you look at their website, purple is only present at the top in the logo whereas they use other colours for the rest of their visual identity. However, the brand Milka built its entire visual identity around a light purple colour, giving nobility and power to this modest brand.
Being the colour of earth, wood and stone, brown is connected in our brain to security, comfort, protection and nature. Brown is a stimulating colour that offers constant support. Being a serious, down to earth colour, you could use it where black might be too intense.
This colour is often used for coffee or chocolate brands, being the original colour of the product. But a company like UPS also uses these colours in their branding, mixing brown with green and yellow, they position as a secure, reliable and down-to-earth company, and this is exactly what you would expect from a delivery company.
Grey represents neutrality and balance, but carefully select the tone of your grey if you don’t want it to have this negative meaning of depression or loss by being too dull. It’s a great colour to use for your font!
Apple is a popular brand using grey for their logo and their products. They are using a silver-tone giving elegance to their image. Swarovski also uses a balance between black, grey and white in their branding for the elegancy and neutrality aspect it gives to their brand.
In psychology, the black colour meaning is elegance, power, control, seriousness, sophistication and independence. It can also be used for negative purposes such as evil, mystery, death or depression. It’s the most used colour for fonts as it’s very easy to read.
Many fashion retailers have used black in their logo: Channel, Yves Saint-Laurent, Louis Vuitton, Nike… They use this colour to suggest refinement and they mix it with white tones to give a consistent look to their brand.
White evokes goodness, cleanliness, humility, innocence and peace. But this meaning applies to North American and European cultures. In some part of the world, white has a completely opposite signification, so, use this colour according to your target market.
A lot of brands use white for the font of their logo with a black background like ADIDAS or ASOS, and they make it the other way around depending on the visual they are creating. The use of those colours helps to create contrast.
Why is the choice of colours important for your business?
Colours trigger feelings and emotions. Choosing the right colours for your visual identity can be the difference between your brand standing out from the crowd or blending into it.
Now that you know the different meanings of the colours, you are able to carefully choose the design to give the right meaning to your business and send to your audience the proper message.
Image Credit: Huffington Post