Yellow will make babies cry. Red will make you hungry. Purple will help you to relax. But why? Why do colors affect us so much, and how can you use it to your advantage?
Red is the most powerful color. Love, anger, embarrassment, and passion are usually represented with red because it is the color that will grab your attention above the rest. Red also makes you hungry. Have you ever noticed how youâ€™ll see a McDonaldâ€™s ad with that bright red box of French fries and find your mouth watering a little bit? It happens to the best of us, even if you donâ€™t like to eat at McDonaldâ€™s. Thatâ€™s why a lot of fast food companies will use red in their ads and decorating.
Be careful how you use it though, because it can be easily abused. Too much red can overwhelm the viewer and make your ad hard to look at for too long. It will grab attention instantly, but it might burn the viewerâ€™s retinas. Okay, thatâ€™s not really true, but try staring at this picture for 5 seconds without blinking or squinting and see how your eyes make out.
Yellow is generally warm, exciting, and happy. It is often associated with springtime, because the sunshine gives a refreshing and bright contrast to the cold overcast winter months. It is also the most difficult color for your eye to discern, and because it is so intense, it will make babies cry if theyâ€™re exposed to it for too long.
If standing on its own it should be used sparingly, simply because of its intensity. If mixed with other colors it will create nice accents that will help your ad pop.
Green is most often associated with nature, freshness, health, luck, envy, sickness, and money. It is the easiest for your eye to discern, which is one of the reasons it is used so often. It also has a relaxing quality and can help to soothe stress. Because it has so many connotations, it can be used in virtually any capacity; crisp fresh foods, cold medicine, outdoors, and St. Patrickâ€™s Day, to name a few.
The only thing I would suggest to be careful about is when you enter the yellow end of the green spectrum. It can end up being a little too harsh for your eyes to handle, simply because of the yellow element.
Blue is the most popular of all the colors. When you ask, most people will say that it is their favorite color. It also helps you concentrate because of its cool and relaxing properties. It is associated with trust, cleanliness, the ocean, relaxation, and sadness.
As popular as blue is, you still have to be careful when using it in certain contexts, because too much blue can make the viewer sad. But for the most part blue is a safe color that will be received well by all audiences
Purple is relaxing, royal, and dignified. It is eye-catching because it occurs so rarely in nature and soothing because of its blue properties. It is associated with royalty because the pigments were very expensive in the Middle Ages and unaffordable to everyone except royalty.
(Iâ€™ve never seen purple used poorly, so if you ever see it please let me know.)
Pink is associated with all things feminine. It is used a lot in toys for girls and products meant only for women. It is also associated with brand new babies and softness. Using pink on something out of its regular context can make things seem less menacing and somewhat comical. Pink jumpsuits have been used in prisons to subdue inmates, not with the intention of humiliating them, but because the criminals donâ€™t like to dress in all pink. This can embarrass them enough to the point that they donâ€™t want to end up there again.
A splash of pink can help any ad look better. Just be careful with it. If used too much the ad will be perceived as very feminine, and if thatâ€™s not your goal youâ€™ve lost a lot of interest by that alone.
White is pure, clean, crisp, and cold. It is very effective when portraying cleaning products or winter scenes. The tricky thing about white, especially online, is that if thereâ€™s too much of it the page feels empty. This can be resolved by adding a colored border and a bit of color throughout.
Donâ€™t get too carried away though.Â White space (empty spaceâ€”it doesnâ€™t necessarily have to be white) is a good thing. If you fill the page too much it can turn into a garbled mess thatâ€™s barely navigable.
Black is associated with death and mourning, but it is sophisticated, elegant, mysterious, and powerful. In advertising especially it has come to represent something being sleek and smooth. It is also great to use as a backdrop when you want to make a product pop.
It seems obvious, but donâ€™t use a lot of black when portraying something exciting or to catch someoneâ€™s eye. Black tends to slide into the background, which is why itâ€™s so great as a backdrop.
These definitions are by no means universal. Color meanings vary from country to country, and sometimes even from person to person. These tips do not account for those who are color blind. Theyâ€™re simply meant to be a helpful tool when deciding on which color to use for a new ad.