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Color, Emotion And Design

By May 26, 2011July 2nd, 2014Branding & Design
Color, Emotion And Design

There is more to color than you might think.  How do you react to different colors?  Did you know your subliminal thoughts can influence your feelings?

Color is a crucial factor of any design, and as a designer I need to think about how to utilize it to represent your business. In truth, it is not just the color that is chosen and how it looks, but more importantly how it makes you feel.

The idea is to use color in a design, and in return get a response.

The Meaning Of Color

When you look at a design and feel its impact, is it the design itself or the color that has engaged you? Maybe it is both, but I am sure color has a great deal to do with it. When I studied color theory and the importance of a color’s meaning, I learned how the general public perceives color and in return how they react to it.

Below are some examples of the effect color may have on your emotions and the way you feel.  Color has an incredible effect on your mood, your perception, and your likes and dislikes.  In this blog, I will focus on the primary colors: red, yellow, and blue.

Red is associated with many things and can represent those things differently.  You often associate red with fire or being hot, and it can also portray an overwhelming sense of danger.  On the contrary, red also symbolizes love.

Regardless of the feeling, words and objects in red get people’s attention immediately.  These are just the basics of the color red, but when you drill down deeper into it and analyze how it makes you feel, red can do so much more.

Did you know that red is associated with your appetite?  In the fast-food industry, McDonalds, KFC, Wendy’s and Burger King are prime examples of this. These companies all have a large amount of red in their branding, which subconsciously lets customers know that the chain is high-energy, and most importantly fast.color-emotion-design-2

In addition to hunger, the color red is also an extreme power statement. Red is uplifting and conveys power and energy.  It portrays confidence.  What business doesn’t want to show that they are confident?  Coca-Cola is a great example. They haven’t changed their logo since the beginning of their existence. Now that’s powerful!color-emotion-design-3

Yellow is another warm color; the color of the sun. It is known to bring joy, liveliness, and energy to your life.  It is also a cheerful color. Yellow is psychologically the happiest color in the color spectrum.

Among other warm colors, yellow grabs the most attention next to red. Working in Manhattan, I have noticed that yellow is an attention grabber, which is the reason taxicabs are painted this color. The contrast of yellow to the dark roads and surrounding areas make taxicabs easy to spot and stand out in a crowd.

Also, due to its liveliness, you can use this color to promote products that target children and youth. However, don’t overuse it because I have heard that babies cry more in yellow rooms than any other.  Yellow is effective for attracting attention just like red, so designers sometimes use it to highlight the most important elements of a design.

Back in the 1960’s, Sanford’s original highlighter, “Major Accent”, used yellow, and their tagline was “For instant reference….”  This goes to show you that yellow is the color of choice when calling attention to things.color-emotion-design-4

Blue is another color we can find all around us.  I find that when I ask someone what their favorite color is, most of the time they say blue. Maybe it’s because it is a calming and peaceful color?  It is the color of the sky and the sea.  It subconsciously makes us feel good.  It can be strong and powerful, or light and friendly.

Almost everyone likes some shade of the color blue. In design, light blue is associated with health because of its softness and the calming emotions it brings to you.  Dark blue is often associated with the more corporate side of design.  It represents knowledge, power, integrity, and seriousness.

Unlike red and yellow, blue is known to be the least appetizing.  It rarely occurs naturally in food aside from blueberries and some plums.  I read once that weight loss plans recommend eating food off of a blue plate so you consume less. Therefore, if I was to design anything for a dietary reason, using the color blue would probably be at the top of my list.

As you can see, color plays an integral part in our everyday wants, needs, and actions. Without color, things would be bland and boring. Using the right hue will engage a particular audience and achieve desired results.

As a designer, I must analyze and research colors to ensure they meet my clients’ needs.