Artists, psychologists and designers have always acknowledged the emotional impact of certain colours on the human psyche. Regardless if you think that psychology is a science or not, you can probably tell the effect certain colours have on your everyday life. Do you ever feel depressed when surrounded by people dressed in black? Or maybe energised when wearing a red shirt? All of these trace back to the psychological effect colours have on us, which can be related to both the human mind in general and to cultural characteristics in particular. It has been scientifically proven that certain colours can raise blood pressure, cause eyestrain or even increase metabolism.
Enhancing your message
Needless to say, colours are an important tool in advertising, subtly communicating and enhancing the meaning of the message. Depending on the product or service you’re trying to advertise, you can make use of the colour spectrum to your own advantage. We recommend that you limit yourself to two or three colours, and avoid overcrowding your billboard. You need something that’s aesthetically pleasing, not something that will bombard the passer-by with too many contrasting colours.
Outdoor and print advertising heavily rely on the impact of colours. which need to be used to complement the product and to seduce the target audience.
We’ve compiled a list with the common associations of each colour, which can be subtly used to send a message about your product. But none of these are clear-cut of course. Because meanings are so diverse and different from one culture to another, making absolute statements would be ignorant.
- Red: symbolises: courage, warmth, strength, energy, but also: aggression and strain
- Blue: symbolises: trust, communication, efficiency, duty, but also: coldness and aloofness
- Yellow: symbolises: optimism, confidence, self-esteem, emotional strength, but also: fear and jealousy
- Green: symbolises: harmony, life, refreshment, rest, but also: boredom and primitivism
- Orange: symbolises: food, warmth, security, but also: deprivation and frustration
- Pink: symbolises: nurture, warmth, femininity, love, but also: promiscuity and weakness
- Violet: symbolises: spiritual awareness, vision, luxury, truth, but also: suppression and introversion
- Grey: symbolises neutrality, but also: lack of confidence, dampness and lack of energy
- Black: symbolises: sophistication, glamour, security, but also: oppression, coldness and evil
- White: symbolises: purity, efficiency, clarity but also: coldness, sterility
- Brown: symbolises: seriousness, warmth, nature, but also: lack of sophistication and heaviness
Another appropriate way of looking at colours is by putting them into three categories: warm, cool, and black and white.
- usually chosen by corporations because restrained colours are mostly associated with professionalism, knowledge and understanding
- darker shades also display a sense of reliability and integrity, making them a good choice for logos
- invite people to linger and relax, a reason why many restaurants are coloured in warm shades of brown, orange and yellow
- usually chosen by food and beverage brands, because they also stimulate excitement and increase appetite
Black and white:
- breathe professionalism and are the best choice when it comes to looking sharp
- can be enlivened with a splash of colour, intensifying the contrast and drawing attention to a specific point