Color series, Part 2: Color Means Business is about defining color characteristics and the emotional qualities of basic color categories.
Red demands attention. This color has so much power and depth – we always seem to know what red wants. It grabs your attention and then either give you a warning or makes a statement. Either way, you get the message. Red is an appetite stimulant, it turns on the part of your brain that says, “mmm mmm, …” Fast food restaurants love it! Red represents strength, power, and vitality, and is the first color that comes to mind when you think sexy. However, red is not sexy if you’re talking about finances.
Pink is strong but kind. Pink has successfully bridged the gender divide and has managed to keep some powerful emotional qualities. It can create an environment of calm, innocence, and soft warmth (even in prison inmates), but still demands respect. Pink stands for romance, passion, and confidence, and apparently is all the craze with the vampire crowd. (Sorry Lien!! I had to!)
Orange is friendly and energetic. It connects with both children and adults, conveying joy, health, and accomplishment. It’s warm, cheery, and exciting. It has both an independent and sociable side and depending on the shade, it can seem more earthy and grounded, or bright and active. Be careful you don’t go so bright that you step into that “neon-reflector warning” type color unless you’re Joseph Carnevale.
Yellow is versatile. It can be a confidant warning color or a calming color of positivity. Yellow is warm sunshine and light. Everything you associate with sunshine is what yellow can kindle in others. Yellow has been used as the “first” for many things in business, like the post-it note and the highlighter because it gets your attention faster than any other color. It appeals to intellectuals and is excellent for accenting. Keep this color in check, too much of the bright hue is unnerving.
Green is alive and kickin’. Green is a balancing color. It is very tolerant of other colors and makes for a perfect complement to more exciting ones like red (hello Christmas!). Green has the ability to evoke tranquility, patience, and confidence. Green is often used on food packaging to indicate health and freshness. Its deep tones convey status and wealth; its pale tones are soothing.
Blue is so true. The most popular color in the US of A, blue is loyal and stable. It summons authority, dignity, and faithfulness. It’s rare that you’ll see the color blue in restaurants because it’s considered a suppressant and slows mental function. Many businesses believe you simply can’t go wrong with blue. Does that mean it’s right? If you look around and find yourself in a sea of sameness you may want to reconsider if true blue is doing you justice. Don’t be afraid to rock the boat.
Purple is full of spirit. It’s a dignified color that knows how to express itself calmly or with great energy. Nothing is more powerful than when nature makes purple come to life, as in “purple mountain majesties.” Purple signifies stature, beauty, and intrigue. It’s sophisticated and respectful but also demands respect, like royalty. It’s one of those colors that may pleasantly surprise you in a palette when you least expect it.
Brown is grounded. It has a softer form of richness and sophistication that black can’t accomplish. When you’ve found the right brown it will do you justice and serve you well. Brown can be conservative but don’t mistake that for boring. It’s versatile, hard-working, very stable, and can be provocative. It’s often the necessary foundational element for spicy accent colors. Teamed with the right palette, brown can be vogue.
White is pure. Some say it’s not a color. True and not true. For today’s purposes, white is a color. The characteristics of white that are important to remember are how it reacts with other colors. White is a little like exciting tofu, depending on your intentions and the setting it can be very contemporary or come off as very sterile. In some instances, white represents truth, honesty, and clarity.
Gray is anything but neutral. There are hundreds of shades of gray and everyone has a story. Some warm, some cold, some lean blue, some lean red. Gray gives you a place to rest, solid ground to stand on, and a quiet space to re-focus or lose yourself in the details. Don’t be afraid to bring gray front and center, it’s not just a canvas for the chameleon. Grays are stable, and practical, and won’t let you down if you bring them to center stage.
Black is noble. It is the most accepting color because it contains all colors. Black is sophisticated, bold, and mysterious. In the many shades of black, drama is never far behind. Black means serious business. It makes a statement and is always loud and clear. Because black is so prominent be careful it doesn’t weasel its way into your color palette by default.
There are millions of colors, shades, and hues, they have an impact on their own and when combined with each other can begin to tell a story. Consider what type of emotions you want to create and who you’re telling that story for and who you’re telling it to.
*Part one highlighted how color affects our brain and our actions.
Are these the only emotional qualities of color?
Hi Lydia, thanks for your comment. Like emotions, color is never-ending.