How often have you walked down the street and looked in a store window to find the word "SALE" splashed across it in large, red text? What about your last trip to the dentist or doctors? While you sat in the waiting room casually flicking through their insurance leaflets, or staring blankly at their posters wishing your overdue appointment would happen already, what colour did you notice then, blue perhaps? There is a reason for this and it is something called Colour Psychology.
The concept of Colour Psychology is a fascinating one and is based on the belief that colours play a subconscious role in our day-to-day behaviour, influencing everything from our emotional responses to the way we taste food. It is important to understand that while colours have generalised emotions or qualities attributed to them e.g. red representing excitement, passion and energy, colours can mean different things to different people, based on subjective perception, gender, cultural background and even age.
The colours we favour, wear or use in our home can also tell us a lot about our personality and the type of environment we are trying to create. They not only act as a representation of our inner selves but the desired state of mind we wish to achieve. For example, someone who is bubbly, creative and outgoing may gravitate towards reds, purples and pinks, as these symbolise confidence, intuition and individuality. In juxtaposition, someone who is more introverted, prone to anxiety and seeks a degree of balance, safety and control may gravitate towards more grounding colours such as blues and greens. Shade and tone play into this; someone who loves dusty pink for example *right here!* may not be a fan of bright baby pink. Depending on your preference of colour, you may also have an aversion to opposite colours.
Here's a little story to put it into perspective. Meet Miss Brown. She loves to fill her home with soft white furniture, chunky-knit throws and rattan feature pieces that she bought on a trip to Bali. She is all about creating a light, natural environment that is calm and grounding for her family. Only organic, locally grown produce is allowed in her kitchen and she looks forward to her Sound Meditation class every Wednesday night. Bright, loud colours are a big no-no as they are garish, ugly and kill her Gwyneth Paltrow vibe. Her best friend, Miss Scarlet, is the Yin to her Yang and finds Miss Brown's interior lacklustre and unexciting. She'll often wear bright, contrasting prints and her pride and joy is a red velvet Chaise Longue that sits in her living room. She is expressive, creative and wants anyone who meets her to know this, which can be seen by the bright yellow earrings she made at a "Jewellery for Beginners" workshop last week.
All jokes aside, the gravitation towards specific colours or colour groups, as well as their emotive qualities can, by extension, indicate dietary, exercise, fashion and interior design preferences, which is why Colour Psychology plays such a huge role in marketing and branding. It is a way for businesses to use their brand identity and advertising material to attract a desired demographic, as well as to influence their emotions and in some cases, create a sense of urgency.
Back to my opening point about the use of red text in sales windows. From what we know about red, its bold nature is why it is so often used to capture attention. This, combined with a striking font adds to the sense of excitement and a desire to act, which draws the audience in. The bolder the sign, the more people take notice and will be drawn in to make a purchase.
On the same train, understanding the decisioning-making impact of colours means that they can also be used to manipulate and mislead an audience. With the growing demand for eco-conscious products, the greatest example of this can be seen with Greenwashing. Ever seen a brand advertise a range as "environmentally friendly", using various shades of green and a leaf icon or two to solidify their credibility, yet when you look closer their practices are anything but? That is Greenwashing and misuse of colour in action.
However it is not all doom and gloom! Let's throwback to the intro again and the use of blue by medical services. For many, blue symbolises peacefulness, trust, stability and reliability. It then makes sense that in places where you may feel fear due to an impending operation or root canal (been there), the use of such a colour can instil faith and trust that those who are treating you know what they are doing. By using Colour Psychology in a way that reassures rather than manipulates, you open up opportunities to help others.
The use of colour and sensory experience to help improve psychological wellbeing is something that I strongly believe in and is one of the founding principles of Lagom. As I have mentioned in most of my blogs, it was a fortuitous accident that I stumbled upon the use of colour to create my own mindful space and I am grateful that I did. It is the reason I am now on this journey to help others create their own mindful spaces, it is why I use the colour palette that Lagom is known for, which now also extends into a promise that my designs will help others feel included and represented. If you hadn't already guessed, I am definitely a Miss Brown, but I am trying to bring in a bit of Miss Scarlet with each new print I make!
For those who are intrigued to know what their favourite colour "represents", I have included a list of emotional attributes below. More generalised themes aside, Colour Psychology can be a wonderful gamut of complexities and intricacies that shape each individual's attitudes and behaviours towards colours and the world around them.
Red: Passionate, youthful, active, exciting, bold, energy, power, confidence.
Pink: Love, respect, warmth, femininity, nurturing, sensitive.
Blue: Trust, loyalty, authority, control, confidence, sincerity.
Green: Balance, growth, positivity, generosity, safety, clarity.
Purple: Creativity, loyalty, originality, intuition, compassion, bravery.
Orange: Optimism, motivation, instinctive, warmth, spontaneity.