The psychology of color is a very interesting albeit not researched topic. Colors can have a physical effect on people (we’ve all heard of the relaxing power of blue and the warmth of yellow). However, there is little scientific data to back psychology of color.
As explained here, the effects colors have on people are most probably based on associations. In their minds, people connect colors with different situations, places, and feelings. Colors can have different associations for different people based on their own experiences and even culture. Leslie Harrington, executive director of The Color Association of The United States, says that people have an innate reaction to color. Red, for example, is a stimulating color. According to her, “this goes back to cavemen days of fire and danger and alarm.” This, however, has not been proven or researched.
The color of interest today, red, can have many different meanings – from demanding and aggressive to stimulating and lively. It is widely used in the restaurant industry. Red appears closer than it is and grabs people’s attention. It is also a very stimulating color. Red raises the heart rate and triggers appetite because of its effect on metabolism. You might have noticed that most fast food franchises use red in their logos for these exact reasons. Because of the urgency and excitement the color induces, people are more likely to leave quickly which is exactly what fast food franchises want.
Red, however, is not always the best choice for restaurants. Formal restaurants use colors like blue because of its calming effect. In this way, they are trying to predispose their clients to stay for a longer period of time and therefore, order more meals. Here we have to mention that these strategies are not proven as no direct link between using specific colors and increase of sales has been documented.
When using colors to induce a certain emotion, marketing directors have to be careful because color cannot be universally translated. Interpretation of color is very subjective and personal, not to mention dependant on culture as described in the article Colours Across Cultures: Translating Colours in Interactive Marketing Communications by Mario de Bortoli and Jesus Maroto. There is also a big percentage of people who are color blind and a certain color definitely will not have the same effect on them.
I can only assume that most of you will think of something different when seeing red or any other color. So what do you associate red with? To what extent do you think color affects us?
Here you can see how different companies use colors:
How do you think the color schemes of the different companies influence our perceptions of them?
Share your thoughts in the comments section below.