Choosing the right colour for your brand, logo, website or other marketing material is a process with much more substance than you might think. Colour psychology is based on the principle that colour can carry specific meaning, evaluated often intuitively, by the person seeing it. This evaluation in turn influences an individual’s behaviour. The psychology of 6 key colours is set out below.
Psychology of Black
Black is the colour of authority and power, stability and strength. Black clothes make people appear thinner. It's a sombre colour sometimes associated with evil (the cowboy in the black hat) and grieving. Black is a colour that evokes strong emotions that can overwhelm. Proficiency of use is often needed for a successful result.
Psychology of White
White is associated with purity (wedding dresses); cleanliness (doctors in white coats) and safety. It is also used to project the absence of colour, or neutrality. Like black, white works well with most colours and is often complimented by an accent of colour for emphasis.
Psychology of Grey
Grey is most associated with the practical, timeless, middle-of-the-road, solid things in life. Too much gray leads to feeling mostly nothing; but a bit of gray will add that rock solid feeling to your product. Some shades of gray are associated with old age and depression.
Psychology of Red
If you want to draw attention, use red. It is often where the eye looks first. Red is the colour of energy. It's associated with movement and excitement. Wearing red clothes makes you appear more noticeable. Red is not a colour to over use but a spot of red in just the right place can leave an immeasurable impression depending on intention (lipstick is red for a reason!).
Psychology of Blue
Ask people their favourite colour and a clear majority will say blue. Much of the world is blue (skies, seas). Blue is generally seen as calming though some shades can be cold and uncaring. Over the ages blue has become associated with security, dependability, wisdom and loyalty (note how many Banks and Financial Services companies are blue).
Psychology of Green
The colour of nature, growth and money. A calming colour that's very pleasing to the senses. Hospitals use light green rooms because they are found to be calming to patients. It is also the colour associated with envy, good luck, generosity and fertility.
Most of the above will probably intuitively make sense. Easy done? Well the challenge for a designer, and where you will pay your money, is in understanding how the combinations of multiple primary, secondary and tertiary colours on your website, will impact visitors. Just the 6 colours above, and there are obviously many more to choose from, have 46,656 possible different permutations!!! However while 46,656 possible permutations sounds like there is a virtually unlimited colour palette to choose from I will leave you with this thought from Wired Magazine almost 10 years ago.
Companies spend millions trying to differentiate from others. Yet a quick look at the logos of major corporations reveals that in colour as in real estate, it's all about location, location, location. The result is an ever more frantic competition for the best neighbourhood.
While the fortunes of these corporates have shifted dramatically over the past decade and new players have emerged the psychology of colour has remained a bastion. Facebook and Pinterest are just a couple of recent players competing for the same valuable real estate created by the psychology of colour.