What is the meaning of color?
And what are the effects of color on behavior for business?
Several years ago an interior design client taught me about how color influences behavior and how using different colors for business can impact sales and profits.
She introduced me to a science known as “psychoneuroimmunology,” a long-term to describe how sensory stimuli influence our behavior and health. Specifically, PNI means the “physiological response to outside sensory stimulation on your senses.” That is, how smell, feel, sight, sound, color influence our behavior. This designer was an early adopter of the science, integrating it into hospital designs and even into operating rooms.
Using color for business is scientific and intuitive
Using color in business communications and design has been scientifically demonstrated. But even without the science, we all have a sense of what color produces through our own experiences. Red makes us feel energized. Aggressive. Awake. Blue is relaxing. Comforting. These are the reasons we intuitively choose specific colors and combinations.
If you are not intuitively connected to the impact of color, here are some of the basics and how they can be interpreted and applied.
The color of fire and blood
Red is the color of fire and blood, so it is associated with energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire, and love.
Red is a very emotionally intense color. It enhances human metabolism, increases respiration rate, and raises blood pressure. It has very high visibility, which is why stop signs, stop lights, and fire equipment are usually painted red. In heraldry, red is used to indicate courage. It is a color found in many national flags.
Red brings text and images to the foreground. Use it as an accent color to stimulate people to make quick decisions; it is a perfect color for ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Click Here’ buttons on Internet banners and websites. In advertising, red is often used to evoke erotic feelings (red lips, red nails, red-light districts, ‘Lady in Red’, etc). Red is widely used to indicate danger (high voltage signs, traffic lights). This color is also commonly associated with energy, so you can use it when promoting energy drinks, games, cars, items related to sports and high physical activity.
Light red represents joy, sexuality, passion, sensitivity, and love.
Pink signifies romance, love, and friendship. It denotes feminine qualities and passiveness.
Dark red is associated with vigor, willpower, rage, anger, leadership, courage, longing, malice, and wrath.
Brown suggests stability and denotes masculine qualities.
Reddish-brown is associated with harvest and Fall.
Orange combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. It is associated with joy, sunshine, and the tropics. Orange represents enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, and stimulation.
To the human eye, orange is a very hot color, so it gives the sensation of heat. Nevertheless, orange is not as aggressive as red. Orange increases oxygen supply to the brain, produces an invigorating effect, and stimulates mental activity. It is highly accepted among young people. As a citrus color, orange is associated with healthy food and stimulates appetite. Orange is the color of fall and harvest. In heraldry, orange is symbolic of strength and endurance.
Orange has very high visibility, so you can use it to catch attention and highlight the most important elements of your design. Orange is very effective for promoting food products and toys.
Dark orange can mean deceit and distrust.
Red-orange corresponds to desire, sexual passion, pleasure, domination, aggression, and thirst for action.
Gold evokes the feeling of prestige. The meaning of gold is illumination, wisdom, and wealth. Gold often symbolizes high quality.
Yellow is associated with joy, happiness, intellect, and energy.
Yellow produces a warming effect, arouses cheerfulness, stimulates mental activity, and generates muscle energy. Yellow is often associated with food. Bright, pure yellow is an attention getter, which is the reason taxicabs are painted this color. When overused, yellow may have a disturbing effect; it is known that babies cry more in yellow rooms. Yellow is seen before other colors when placed against black; this combination is often used to issue a warning. In heraldry, yellow indicates honor and loyalty. Later the meaning of yellow was connected with cowardice.
Use yellow to evoke pleasant, cheerful feelings. You can choose yellow to promote children’s products and items related to leisure. Yellow is very effective for attracting attention, so use it to highlight the most important elements of your design. Men usually perceive yellow as a very lighthearted, ‘childish’ color, so it is not recommended to use yellow when selling prestigious, expensive products to men – nobody will buy a yellow business suit or a yellow Mercedes. Yellow is an unstable and spontaneous color, so avoid using yellow if you want to suggest stability and safety. Light yellow tends to disappear into white, so it usually needs a dark color to highlight it. Shades of yellow are visually unappealing because they lose cheerfulness and become dingy.
Dull (dingy) yellow represents caution, decay, sickness, and jealousy.
Light yellow is associated with intellect, freshness, and joy.
The color of nature
Green symbolizes growth, harmony, freshness, and fertility. Green has strong emotional correspondence with safety. Dark green is also commonly associated with money.
Green has great healing power. It is the most restful color for the human eye; it can improve vision. Green suggests stability and endurance. Sometimes green denotes lack of experience; for example, a ‘greenhorn’ is a novice. In heraldry, green indicates growth and hope. Green, as opposed to red, means safety; it is the color of free passage in road traffic.
Use green to indicate safety when advertising drugs and medical products. Green is directly related to nature, so you can use it to promote ‘green’ products. Dull, darker green is commonly associated with money, the financial world, banking, and Wall Street.
Dark green is associated with ambition, greed, and jealousy.
Yellow-green can indicate sickness, cowardice, discord, and jealousy.
Aqua is associated with emotional healing and protection.
Olive green is the traditional color of peace.
This is the first in a two-part blog. The next installment will be published shortly. So look out for it. We’re proud to offer you information you can use to build your business and prosper.
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