It was on my mind since quite some time to write a blog post about color. Color is a complex subject as there is so much to tell about, so I decided to make a series about it: The Power of Color.
So what is color? Color is what we see when the light strikes an object and is reflected to the eye.
We can divide the colors into three groups.
The primary colors: red, bleu, and yellow, they are the basis for all the other colors. Mix them together in equal parts and you will get black.
The secondary colors: orange, green and violet. You become them by mixing two of the primary colors, in equal parts, together.
The tertiary colors: amber, lime, turquoise, lavender, purple, yellow-orange. To obtain tertiary color you mix a primary color with a secondary color.
If you search for basic colors you will find different definitions. Some will talk about 3, what is described above as the primary colors. Others will talk about 6 colors, the primary and the secondary colors together. And than you will also find some talking about 7 colors, the colors of the rainbow, the 6 basic colors + indigo.
Ancient scientist and philosophers have been writing about color and light several centuries before Isaac Newton, in the mid of the 17th century, would pass white light through a prism and watch it fan out into a rainbow. Originally he would subdivide the spectrum in only 5 colors: red, yellow, green, blue and purple. He revised it to 7, adding orange and indigo. This was based on the believes of Pythagoras, 6th century BC, that there would be a connection between color and music, where we can find 7 basic notes.
Johann Wolfgang Goethe, a German writer and statesman, wrote novels, drama, poetry, autobiography and was interested in science, botany, anatomy and colors. He published in 1810 Theory of Colors, what he saw as his most important work. He writes about the psychological effects of colors, what we would now describe as color psychology.
And color is not just color, we have the pure color also referred to as hue, than we have a tint, a tone or a shade. You become a tint of a color by mixing the hue with white, which will reduce the darkness of the color. Adding grey to your hue will give you a tone. And in case you want to increase the darkness of your hue you should mix it with black and you will become a shade. We will use the term shade in general for any variety of a particular color.
What is in a name? Just think of skin tone, how would you define skin tone? Color has a secret language, which can be different depending on where you live, your culture, religion. Different countries make different associations to one and the same color. Age and gender can influence how an individual perceives color. Even history plays a part in the understanding or meaning of a color. Same can happen because of some positive or negative experiences in the past.
You understand immediately that there is more in a name than just one color or shade. But we can start giving some characteristics for our basic colors.
WHITE stands for purity, innocence, perfection, faith and is used in the West for bridal dresses, in the East it represent death. White is a new beginning, gives you freedom to do whatever you want. But take care as to much white can be to cold, will make you think of a hospital. You can do a lot by choosing the right materials.
RED is a powerful color. Color of love, passion, action, and power. A color which gives self-confidence and will asks for attention. A color which will raise your blood pressure. Red is present, you can’t hide in a corner, it is a proud color. Aways pay attention when you see red, it warns you, it can signify danger.
ORANGE is a joyful color, giving you lots of energy. A very happy and fun color, perfect for celebrations, a feel good color. A dynamic and active color which will make you run that extra kilometer at the gym. A color which improves social behavior. But take care as it is also a color which increases your appetite, so don’t use it to much in your dining room.
YELLOW is the most happy color of them all, often associated with sunshine and joy. It is a very positive and welcoming color which encourages communication. Yellow will increase your focus and sharpens your memory.
GREEN represents nature, fresh beginnings, re-birth, healing and fertility. A relaxing color which will promote physical and emotional wellbeing. Color of money and in some countries it is the color for greed or jealousy.
BLUE makes us think of the sky, the sea. You feel it immediately that it is a very calming color, one which will bring serenity, stability, and will purify your thinking. A color which stands for tradition, it gives security, high quality, and competence. Blue is worldwide the top choice when you ask people for the favorite color. It is also a very masculine color. Take care not to use to much blue as it can make your interior look to cold, you would turn the heating a few degrees up.
VIOLET is the balance between the passion of red and the calmness of blue. A spiritual color, perfect for meditation, calms your mind and your nerves. A creative color, loved by some hated by others. A color for authority and power. It was a color only for the royalties as the pigment to dye the fabrics was so expensive that only a a few could afforded it.
PINK is a color of innocent love, giving comfort. A color every little girl will love. Sincere, feminine, sophisticated.
BLACK reflects luxury, elegance. It is a color representing sophistication, expensive taste and it is timeless. Perfect to add some magic or mystery. Color for the nightlife, but is is also the color of the underworld, fear and death.
Color is very trend sensitive, we are influenced by what we see around us. Maybe today you don’t like a certain color, but once you see it often in magazines or in shops, you will be surprised soon you will start to like it too. Color can influence our shopping behavior, we will tend to buy products, in the supermarket, wrapped up in the colors we like. We only need a few seconds to decide if we like or don’t like something and color is helping us to make this decision.
What is your favorite color? Not an easy question, right? Same problem, we are influenced, but you can discover your color during a workshop or an one on one coaching session. Soon there will be another Who am I workshop in Bucharest, followed by a version developed for juniors.
Color psychology is widely used by marketing professionals, the right color, or even the right shade of a color can influence consumers’ emotions and their perceptions of the services of goods of a company.