The visual message behind advertising is just as important as the written message, oftentimes even more so. Colors elicit emotions, images and even physical reactions that become associated with what’s being offered—is it warm and family-oriented? Is it bright, colorful and directed at children? Is it more edgy or “neon”, and directed at teens? All these factors come into play when choosing hues for your branding.
For a medical practice, for example, red is a color to avoid in most situations because it can conjure images of death, pain and suffering. Instead, we choose colors and color combinations, such as green for its connotations of health and nature or blue for serenity and clarity.
Here are some examples of what some colors represent to us (excerpts from Color Wheel Pro):
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—which is why we chose red for our lunchroom—increases respiration rate and raises blood pressure.
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.
YELLOW is the color of sunshine. It’s 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. However, 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.
GREEN is the color of nature. It 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 and may improve vision. Green also suggests stability and endurance.
BLUE, perhaps the universal favorite in advertising, is the color of the sky and sea. It is often associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth and heaven. Blue is considered beneficial to the mind and body, and is used most often in medical arenas. It slows human metabolism and produces a calming effect. Blue is strongly associated with tranquility and calmness.
PURPLE combines the stability of blue and the energy of red. Purple is associated with royalty. It symbolizes power, nobility, luxury and ambition. It conveys wealth and extravagance. Purple is associated with wisdom, dignity, independence, creativity, mystery and magic. According to surveys, almost 75 percent of pre-adolescent children (and me) prefer purple to all other colors.
BLACK is associated with power, elegance, formality, death and evil. Black is a mysterious color associated with fear and the unknown (think black holes). It usually has a negative connotation (e.g., blacklist, black humor, black death). Black also denotes strength and authority, and is considered to be a very formal, elegant and prestigious color.
WHITE is associated with light, goodness, innocence, purity and virginity. It is considered to be the color of perfection. White means safety, purity and cleanliness. As opposed to black, white usually has a positive connotation. White can represent a successful beginning. In advertising, white is associated with coolness and cleanliness because it’s the color of snow.
Picking the right colors to represent who you are as a company can be a daunting task. One wrong move, and you can send your users running to seek what they’re looking for elsewhere. Be sure to tread carefully, or choose someone with enough experience to make the right choice for your brand!