on colour

recently i’ve been ruminating on how to design a colour scheme for a non-profit organisation and i knew that certain colours did not feel right for the brand. i looked at other websites to see what strategies they had used. red cross of courses uses a bright red which made me feel unsafe and that danger lurked, whereas their “save lives with first aid skills” was covered in a forest green. hope not hate, another non-profit organisation, uses a bumblebee yellow, black and white colour scheme, provoking a sleek yet warmth feeling, that definitely appeals to the youth. contrast this to the NHS website that uses a sapphire blue and provokes feelings of safety and security (which a healthcare service should make you feel!). before i clicked on the marie currie website, i guessed that they would use a blue-yellow pallet. blue signals safety and stability whereas yellow provokes strong feelings of hope (as i learnt from the hope not hate website). the marie curie logo is adorned with a sunflower and a blue-coloured tagline. so we can conclude, that surely colour psychology exists! below ive jotted down some other colour associations just for myself to refer to in the future and in case anyone else is interested. starting from the top of the rainbow:

red: danger, action, urgency, survival, anger, appetite but also passion, thrill and excitement. think coca cola which tries to sell itself as an exciting brand.

orange: enthusiastic but not as exciting as red, orange is adventurous but not thrilling.

yellow: it’s the colour of the sun, and we associate brightness, hope, joy, cheerfulness, positivism with the colour yellow. yellow is also used for the sales or reduced prices as it captures our attention, especially when contrasted against mundane household or food items.

green: of course we think of nature, plants, health. as it is associated with nature, green relaxes us which probably why starbucks uses the colour for its cafes. its also commonly used to promote environmental issues but it wouldn’t be as useful to provoke urgency for climate change issues.

blue: safe, trustworthy, stable, reliable, tranquil, secure harmonious, peaceful, think of the NHS or the blue tick on a verified social media account. this explains why corporations use blue (i.e. facebook or twitter). if red stimulates appetite, then blue curbs it. though we should also note that blue is also associate negative feelings such as depression hence the phrase “feeling blue” or picasso’s paintings from his blue period.

purple: royal, wise, magical, imaginative, creative respected and luxurious

black: sleek, powerful, serious, in-control, independent, authority, strength, elegant, expensive, intelligence, glamorous which explains why its used by high-end brands, for example chanel.

another to bear in mind is that bright colours are usually used to prompt physical activity whereas cooler colours are softer on our brains and relax us which is why we can spend more time on a coooler toned website and even read longer. this colour psychology has also allowed me to understand why combining one, two or three colours works effectively but combining too many can be overwhelming. the individual association of each colour would cancel each other out.

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