Home Science Color Psychology: How Much Do Colors Affect Our Daily Life?

Colors seem to govern all forms of non-verbal communication representing the most instantaneous and convenient method of conveying a message. Along with a multitude of myths and esoteric theories related to their symbolism and function, there’s a whole area of science dedicated to color psychology. What has triggered the attention of various researchers?  In this post we want to take a closer look at the psychological meanings and effects of colors as revealed by recent studies and experiments.

How Do Companies Use Color Psychology in Marketing?

As researchers have proven that different color schemes appeal more to one type of audience than they do to another, other fields of activity have started to pay more attention to this aspect. Color psychology is massively used in marketing and advertising strategy as colors prove to be powerful marketing triggers.

Do colors really influence what people buy? Well, according to recent research, 84% of consumers choose products based on color, citing it as the primary reason they buy a particular item. No wonder big brands master the psychology of colors to influence your buying behavior when 93% of consumers look at the visual appearance when they buy a product, while 6% look at texture and only 1% make decisions based on sound and smell.

color psychology identity branding

Researchers have shown that colors increase brand recognition as colorful ads are almost twice more read than ads in black and white. They also believe that colors can considerably improve comprehension and learning as well.

Whether they are used for products or displayed in stores, colors are an extremely powerful means of catching one’s eye and call to action. Although it is simple to make assumptions, the fact is that there is an entire body of studies companies use to influence customers decisions. Apart from universal meanings associated to colors, they pay careful attention to cultural differences as well.

For instance, a study looking at color emotion and preferences in Chinese and British participants has shown that their like-dislike scale differs significantly. That is why it is important for companies to consider such aspects as color preference when it comes to their targeted consumers. The argument appeals to common sense: who would buy anything in a color one dislikes?

How Do We Generally Perceive Colors?

Before getting into detail as regards colors’ psychological meaning and function in marketing strategies, let’s see how they are generally perceived by the human eye and mind.

Defined as the attribute possessed by an object of creating different sensations on the eye as a result of the way it reflects or emits light, colors are perceived at three levels: physically, physiologically and psychologically. Although our perception of color is subjective, both on a cultural and individual level, it seems that many color effects and functions are universal. Tests have indicated that the perception of colors does not differ significantly in terms of gender. Men and women prefer or dislike quite the same spectrum of colors.

Also, we generally perceive them to be either cool, warm or neutral. Sadly, there are people who suffer from color blindness which is a vision disability which makes it impossible to distinguish all or some colors.

They are mainly divided in primary (red, blue, yellow) and secondary colors (orange, green, purple). The difference between them is that the secondary ones can be achieved by mixing two primary colors, while the primary ones cannot form by mixing any other color.

As we are surrounded by them everywhere, let’s have a look at their symbolism, function, and effects both from a psychological and marketing perspective.

RED Color Psychology

The red color creates a sense of urgency, reason why it is widely used in sales.

Emotional Effects:

  • Increases passion and energy levels.
  • Symbolizes love and danger.
  • Evokes powerful emotions.
  • Increases heart rate.

Marketing Function:

  • Attracts impulsive shoppers.
  • Can quickly focus attention.
  • Encourages appetite.

Red is popular for food, tech, auto, agriculture and heart-related brands and logos like Coca Cola, Kellogg’s, Netflix, Pinterest, Virgin, Red Bull, American Heart Association etc.

BLUE Color Psychology

Blue is a non-invasive color and the least gender-specific color. It creates a sensation of trust and security.

Emotional Effects and Symbolism:

  • Increases productivity.
  • Symbolizes loyalty.
  • It is associated with calm and peace, as well as with communication skills.
  • Aids intuition.
  • Curbs appetite.

Marketing Function:

  • Creates a sense of security.

The blue color is popular for food, energy, finance, tech, agriculture and health care brands like Walmart, Pro-cut, British Gas, British Air Lines, Ps, as well as for social media channels and chat logos like Facebook, Skype and Twitter.

YELLOW Color Psychology

Yellow is used to grab attention as it is the first color perceived by the retina.

Emotional Effects and Symbolism:

  • Represents youthfulness.
  • Shows clarity.
  • Increases optimism and cheerfulness.
  • Activates memory.
  • Can strain eyes.

Marketing Function:

  • Catches the eye of window shoppers.

Yellow is popular for food, energy and household brand logos like DHL, Ikea, Best Buy, Shell, Nikon, Mc Donald’s.

ORANGE Color Psychology

Orange is the color that creates a call to action.

Emotional Effects and Symbolism:

  • Reflects excitement and vitality.
  • Stimulates appetite cautions.
  • Signifies aggression.

Marketing Function:

  • Invites people to subscribe, buy or sell.

Orange is popular for tech and finance brands and health care logos like GSK (GlaxoSmithKline), Master Card, Bitly, Mozilla Firefox.

PURPLE Color Psychology

Purple is a calming color, often used for beauty products.

Emotional Function:

  • Indicates wealth and wisdom.
  • Creates a sense of calm.
  • Offers a sense of spirituality as it is associated with the supreme chakra in Buddhist healing practices.
  • Encourages creativity.

Marketing Function:

  • Suggests sophistication and royalty.
  • Creates a sense of mystery.

Purple is popular for finance, travel, tech, health care and fashion-related brands and logos like The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Cosmopolitan, Lufthansa.

GREEN color Psychology

The green color is used for its relaxing and soothing effects.

Emotional Effects and Symbolism:

  • Associated with health and freshness.
  • Represents growth and nature.
  • Relaxes mentally and physically.
  • Alleviates depression.
  • Dark green associates wealth.
  • Light green encourages serenity.
  • Offers a sense of self-control.

Marketing Function:

  • Green induces a sense of relaxation to customers in stores.
  • Connected to environmentalism.

Green color is popular for energy, finance, household, tech and food brands like Starbucks, Kick Starter, HTC, BP, Holyday Inn.

Neutral colors like black, brown and white do not attract that much attention like primary and secondary colors, but they are also used to convey particular messages and moods.

BLACK Color Psychology

Black is an authoritative and powerful color, denoting prestige and sophistication.

Emotional Effects and Symbolism:

  • Suggests restful emptiness.
  • Implies weight.
  • Makes one feel inconspicuous.

Marketing Function:

  • Used to market luxury products.
  • Suggests sleekness and timelessness.

Black is popular for tech, fashion and auto brands like Louis Vuitton, Lexus, Rolex, Swarovski.

WHITE Color Psychology

In most cultures, white is associated with peace and a sense of purity.

Emotional Effects and Symbolism:

  • Suggests purity and innocence.
  • Symbolizes nobility.
  • Represents safety and happiness.
  • Aids mental clarity.

Marketing Function:

  • Suggests cleanliness.
  • Gives a sense of refinement.
  • Indicates space and openness.
  • Encourages the clearing of clutter

White is popular for health care and sport equipment brands, as well as for child related business like Mirillis, Adidas, Nike.

BROWN Color Psychology

Brown color symbolizes simplicity, strength and durability.

Emotional Effects and Symbolism:

  • Represents reliability.
  • Creates a sense of strength.
  • Indicates straightforwardness.
  • Can remind people of dirt (negative effect).

Marketing Function:

  • Symbolizes durability due to its association with Earth.
  • Implies practicality.
  • Can suggest boredom.

Brown is popular for fashion, tech, auto and agriculture brands like UPS, Lavazza, Double Tree, Instagram.

If you wish to find out more about the connection between colors and spiritual openness and development, check out our post on chakra symbolism and functions.

How Do Colors Influence Your Mood?

Have you ever thought of how the color you choose to wear in the morning affects your mood during the day? Is there any difference between wearing a pink shirt and a grey one? What about the color you paint your room?

Studies reveal that between 62% and 90% of people’s subconscious judgements made about an environment within 90 seconds are based on color. For this reason we tend to use colors to describe different moods and experiences.

However, the key to achieve results in terms of positive effects is constancy. For instance, if you are looking to improve your creative skills, wear purple. Also, if you feel distressed, surround yourself with green objects which will subconsciously suggest a state of calm and peacefulness.

Wonder what the color you pick as your favorite says about you? A fun and easy, although not fully reliable way to find out what your favorite color indicates about yourself is a color quiz or a color psychology test. You can find a bunch of these online.

How could we better resume our article on color psychology than by means of a colorful infographic? Treat your eyes with our visual and comprehensive guide on the psychology of colors.


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Jackie Cuban

Psychology graduate and mother of two, I am an enthusiastic blogger, with a great passion for healthy cuisine (chocolate is a vegetable, right?) and homemade solutions. So, apart from being a full time mother, I write and find joy in handmade crafting. My life is my inspiration, I might say, as I usually get inspiration from everything happening around me. My two kids, Annabelle and Will, are my greatest achievements and, I have to admit, the most inspirational people I know. Seeing life through a child’s eyes is more interesting than you imagine. I do not have the surprising answers to life’s difficult questions, but you might find the answers to a few very surprising questions.


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