As thinking and emotional beings, we are frequently exposed to certain feelings and moods provoked by particular experiences, by the sight of objects surrounding us or by the dialogue with other individuals. Nevertheless, there are several other ways to influence our inner sensibility and one of them is the impact of colors on our minds and, most important, on our behavior.

The importance of colors in our lives is studied in detail by a new science which takes the name of “color psychology”. This new way of seeing colors is based on the relationship between them and the response and feedbacks our brain and body offers. This explains why, for instance, when we see the YELLOW, we feel definitely more relaxed and full of hope and energy, we feel cheerful. However, there is a great list of colors with their psychological explanation that can’t be described in only one article, so we will focus on some basic ones and their properties.

How do colors influence us?

An American researcher, Leslie Harrington, states that there are “multiple levels” of human reaction to colors; for example, there is the cultural level of understanding the meaning of a color, but there is also a psychological one which is a more personal way of interpreting the same color. The main similarity is that both levels imply a direct impact on people’s behavior and mood. Let’s be more concrete: taking into consideration the color RED, speaking on a cultural level, this one evokes a certain feeling of danger and or adrenaline.

This happens because there is an association of this color either with fire trucks and ambulances or with the blood: in both cases there is the increase of the heart beatings and the sense of alert, therefore RED is a stimulating color. Speaking on a psychological level, RED is usually related to something pleasant that is different for each one of us: as it is well known, RED is the colour of love, of passion and seeing the beloved person in a red dress or giving Valentine’s cards- which also are red- definitely arises a feeling of relaxation and attraction.

Moreover, related to the meaning of colors, some fashion experts among whom Jeannie Mai, developed a sort of therapy named “Wearapy”. It is based on matching clothes of all types of colors in order to make people feel more self-confident and to induce them to believe more in themselves, to appreciate their bodies and to give a boost to their mood. This is an interesting, natural and creative way of influencing a person to feel better and, therefore, to change his bad behaviors with good ones. Up until now, we can deduce that color have a REAL impact in our lives and we should pay more attention to them in order to choose which one is a good influence for us and which one is not.

As promised, we will focus on the features of some basic colors:

  • RED
As mentioned before,  is the color of danger, alert, warning, but it also represents love, passion, warmth. According to some researchers, it may also be related to the stirring of the appetite (when someone sees this color may feel a need to eat), that’s why some well known fast foods adopted this color in their brands.
  • PINK
This color confers relaxation and has a calming effect on people, but it also represents love and romance.
  • BLUE
Blue is considered the color of concentration and intelligence. It also may represent a sense of security and protection, that’s why we usually find this color on the uniforms of the police, for example. On the other side, it can also be a synonym of sadness and that explains the term “feeling blue”.
If blue is a “rational” color, yellow is considered an “emotional” one. It represents, besides cheerfulness and happiness, a strong emotional reaction and a boost of confidence. On the other side, yellow may also indicate a fragile sensitivity and anxiety.
Green is considered the color of the balance in the system of the human behavior. It is usually associated with the natures and symbolizes wealth and health. In a negative way, it represents the envy and, like in the case of blue, it explains the expression “green with envy”.
Besides the myth of the slimming ability of black clothes, black is known as the color of darkness, of the death and of what is bad, evil. But this color has also positive features: it stands for authority (see the judges’ robes) and reliability and sophistication (see the suit of a business man and in general formal wears).
The most common definitions agree on the fact that white is the color of purity, goodness and innocence. We can add also that it indicates sterility and cleanliness. In a negative meaning, white may represent coolness and unfriendliness.

The role of colors in marketing & branding

If you’re a marketer or a designer, you probably take into account the importance of the color in your business and in creating the design of a product or a web site. Predicting what and how your clients may feel when visiting your site or when buying your brand is MORE IMPORTANT than their actual reaction. A marketer should think about what feelings the colors of their products may evoke in a consumer, besides the functionality of the products themselves, and to use them properly.

There are numerous studies and researches which  proved that colors have a great impact on the selling of products and in the branding field: there is a study that appears in the Management Decision written by Satyendra Singh, named “Impact of color on marketing”, which demonstrates that around 90% of consumers judge a product basing only on its colour. Furthermore, Ellen C. Carter states that there is a tight relationship between the product and its color in terms of “matching”: this means that the color has a great importance and significance in relation to the product and that the marketer should make them “fit” properly in order to succeed in the sale.

We can conclude with a five-colours chart, the result of a study made by the psychologist and professor Jennifer Aaker: the study is called “Dimensions of Brand Personality” and it is taken into consideration by a great number of marketers and designers in their work. Here the five colours considered by Jennifer Aaker: LIGHT BLUE and BLUE that mean sincerity, honesty and originality when applied to a brand or product; RED, as already said, can arise the sense of hunger and it is adopted by many fast-foods; PURPLE symbolizes excitement and uniqueness; GREEN stands for reliability, intelligence, competence and success; VIOLET represents sophistication and wisdom and also is the label colour of femininity ; last but not least, YELLOW is the symbol of manhood, ruggedness and optimism.