The Psychological Effects of Colour


In 1666, Sir Isaac Newton made a discovery that would forever change how we view colour. He determined that a rainbow of colours exists within pure white light and that they can be seen when shone through a prism. This discovery gave us insight into the spectrum of colour and fuelled further studies into colour and colour theory. Today, the colour spectrum is addressed in how colour affects people psychologically, and is a trending topic in the field of marketing and business growth.  

Colour Theory

At a young age, we are taught that blue and yellow make green, red and blue make purple and red and yellow make orange; these are are the building blocks of the colours that we know and are familiar with. Colour theory, however, delves deeper into the colour spectrum. When looking for complimentary colours to enhance a design, the primary colours are studied to find the best tint and hue to attract a viewer’s attention. Colour theory acts as a building block in the study of colour and gives designers, artists, engineers, marketers and so forth, a starting point in deciphering the correct colours to use to enhance a space, document, or design.  

Emotional Response

A designer or marketer’s goal is to appeal to a viewer’s emotions to help them choose one company over another. Certain colours, however, can change a viewer’s emotions completely, based on how it is presented. Studies have found that exposing a person to the colour yellow can cause or increase their anxiety, while the colour blue can create a calming atmosphere and build trust. Colours are therefore not used lightly in marketing materials, designs or brand logos, as each colour can affect how we perceive the company based on the emotion that it makes us feel. For a full list of the emotional effects of each colour, visit a great blog by Art Therapy.  

Colours Influence Success 

The psychological effects of colour are continually being studied, as scientists are looking into how colours stimulate the brain and affect people’s moods. Companies are using this data to influence business growth when applicable; altering their logo’s, and print and digital designs to ensure that the correct colours are being used. 

An experiment by Paula Rupolo, a graphic designer, shows how important colours are to a businesses logo. Her experiment, comprised of switching the logo colours of competing brands, proved that the colours that are used are just as important as the design. The next time your company designs marketing materials or is thinking about rebranding, make finding the correct colour a top priority. 

Colour will continue to be a trending topic, as businesses experiment with the full colour spectrum to influence the perception of a company. To ensure that you are using the best colours to represent your brand, keep an eye out for emerging studies or contact us to speak to our colour experts. 

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