Recently, the graphic designers at MStar have been asked to choose a new color for our offices. While rifling through an overwhelming number of paint colors and swatches, I started thinking about the psychology behind color. Color has a profound effect on human behavior and emotions. It plays a major role in our visual perception and influences our reactions to the world around us.
For years, psychologists have studied the correlation between colors and emotional response. Reactions and attitudes to colors differ from person to person (our attraction to certain colors; the way we experience color), but some colors inspire a universal response
When it comes to marketing and advertising, color plays an important role in brand identity. When designing a logo for a business, graphic designers should always take into account the way people interpret color, because different colors portray different ideas and meanings—whether the viewer realizes it or not.
Red—passion, power, action, desire, and love
Red is often associated with passion and love as well as anger and danger. When exposed to red, a person’s heart rate increases and he or she becomes excited. In design, red can be a powerful accent color and can be very versatile. Brighter shades emphasize energy and excitement while darker shades suggest power and passion.
Orange—force, determination, vitality, energy, and productivity
Orange enhances feelings of vitality, energy, and happiness. It is often associated in nature with changing seasons. In design, orange is considered the best color to use for call to actions because it commands attention without being as overpowering as red.
Yellow—warmth, happiness, energy, and warning
Yellow is often associated with laughter, hope, and sunshine. Viewers tend to feel optimistic and cheerful when exposed to this color. However, too much yellow can be overwhelming and hard on the eyes.
Green—growth, optimism, nature, relaxation, and youth
Green is (obviously) a very earthy color, representing new beginnings and growth. On the other hand, it can signify jealousy, envy, and greed. In design, green can have great balancing and harmonizing effects. It is considered the color that is easiest on the eyes. Brighter greens are best for reflecting nature and energy. Darker greens represent stability and wealth.
Blue—authority, integrity, intelligence, peace, and loyalty
While blue is often associated with sadness, it’s also known to reflect calmness and responsibility. In design, the blues chosen by the designer have a huge impact on how the design is perceived. Light blues can be seen as refreshing and pleasant. Dark blues best reflect reliability and trustworthiness.
Violet—spirituality, majesty, wealth, ambition, and royalty
Long associated with royalty, violet suggests wealth, success, and luxury. It’s also been known to encourage creativity, imagination, and innovation and is considered a feminine and romantic color. Violet is rare in nature and as a result is often seen as having sacred meaning. Light purple hues represent feminine energy and delicacy, as well as romantic and nostalgic feelings. Dark purple hues evoke feelings of gloom, sadness, and frustration. Bright purple hues suggest riches and royalty.
Pink—romance, softness, tenderness, youth, and spirit
Pink is a delicate color that evokes innocence, cuteness, playfulness, and femininity. Pink is the sweet side of the color red.
Black—mystery, power, drama, elegance, rebellion, and strength
Black is essentially an absence of light and is closely associated with darkness or the unknown. Black implies self-control and discipline, independence and a strong will, and gives an impression of authority and power. It is also associated with sexiness and seduction.
When choosing a color to use for the branding of many of our clients, the graphic design team at MStar always considers these interpretations of how color is perceived.
As for what color we should paint our office … I’ll leave that a mystery until the job is completed.