You know color matters - but how? Colors can arouse powerful emotions, thoughts and memories. Colors also capture attention, engage and motivate. When looking at your brand and/or marketing, chances are there is a synergy between what color can do and one of the core goals you have set for your social media efforts. Let’s take a deeper look into what colors can evoke in humans!
Color me happy… sad… mad?
Colors can alter the psychological states of individuals, and each color can provoke different types of reactions. For example, conventional wisdom has long said that blue is soothing while red provokes excitement. But in today’s world, we also use red to grab attention or highlight safety issues. And what about that phrase “I’m so mad I’m seeing red”?
Colors also have specific meaning in social settings - like orange depicting friendliness, while grey is perceived as professional. And when you investigate color through a cultural lens there comes even more to consider - indigo (also known as “Japan Blue”) is not only a color - it’s a color and industry that has been treasured and revered by the Japanese people since ancient times!
Fun fact. - Goethe presented one of the first color theories way way back in 1808 He proposed that there are positive colors (yellow, orange and red) representing activity and ambition, and negative colors (blue and purple) that representing passiveness and obedience. Fast forward to 2002, and Ballast added some sophistication: claiming red is associated with excitement, orange responsible for producing distressing emotions, purple depicts dignity, yellow cheer and blue comfort and security (Naz & Epps, 2004). So wait… is orange friendly or distressing???
The same colors can generate different emotions
It is also possible for the same color to evoke different emotions, or for more than one color to be associated with an emotion (Naz & Epps, 2004). Red is considered an overriding and vibrant color with an exciting and stimulating hues impact. It has both positive and negative interpretations too! On the positive side, red associates with activity, warmth, passion, and strength. Aggression, blood, rage, harm, danger, evil are also associated with red on the negative side. Green could be positive - relaxation, refreshment, quietness, and nature… but green could be yucky as well with sickness, tiredness, and guilt says Davey (1998). Some associate black colors with power and sophistication, while others consider it sad and empty. Similarly, blue can be associated with relaxation and calmness and also with depression and sadness (Kaya & Epps, 2004). Color decisions are clearly not either/or, are they?
Colors can evoke warm and cool sensations
Colors are also associated with temperature - I’m sure you have heard some described as warm or cool colors. Blue and purple are considered cool colors and tend to generate comfort and relaxation. Red, yellow and orange are considered warm colors and generate energizing emotions (Ballast, 2002 as cited in Naz & Epps, 2004). In an experimental study conducted by Mahnke and Mahnke (1993), people who were exposed to red and yellow color reported higher levels of anxiety as compared to those who exposed to blue and green colors (Naz & Epps, 2004). Obviously you want to consider this in regards to your brand - and even the industry space you are in. Let’s take a moment and look through the lens of fashion - what are people actually wearing? In New York City, black is a fashion staple - cool and business oriented, like parts of the city itself. Hop south to Florida, and you see much more color - the warm, bright and colorful hues of the tropics appear right at home in this locale.
Color perception can be highly individual
According to some theorists and researchers, colors and their impact on emotions are a totally individual phenomenon. They propose the way a person is affected by color highly depends on age, gender, culture, past experiences, perception biases, and personality attributes. According to Khouw (2002; as cited in Singh, 2006), men were attracted more towards gray, white and black colors while women responded more to the red and blue combinations. Color is also specific to culture and religion. According to Wiegersma and Van der Elst (1988), they found blue preferred generally in all cultures. So a person’s reaction to a color can be as unique as each of us is individually - driven by our “imprint”, the society we live in, and cultural drivers of the day.
So how can we tell how people are responding to the colors you use in your social media posts? QMocha makes this easy for you with several color analysis options.. Try it out at app.qmocha.com
- Epps, H. H., & Kaya, N. (2004). Color matching from memory.
- Naz, K. A. Y. A., & Epps, H. (2004).Relationship between color and emotion: A study of college students. College Student J, 38(3), 396.
- Naz, K. A. Y. A., & Helen, H. (2004). Color-emotion associations: Past experience and personal preference. In AIC 2004 Color and Paints, Interim Meeting of the International Color Association, Proceedings (Vol. 5, pp. 31-34). Jose Luis Caivano.
- Singh, S. (2006). Impact of color on marketing. Management decision, 44(6), 783-789.
- Valdez, P., & Mehrabian, A. (1994). Effects of color on emotions. Journal of experimental psychology: General, 123(4), 394.
- Wiegersma, S., & Van der Elst, G. (1988). “Blue phenomenon”: Spontaneity or preference?. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 66(1), 308-310"