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The science of colors in business

Color psychology affects our lives in so many ways, yet we often don't realize the impact of our color choices on our website colors, on our stationery and packaging, in our retail store or office, in our marketing or our business clothing.



The science of colors in business


RED FAMILY

Red is a very powerful, dynamic color that reflects our physical needs whether to show affection and love, or to portray terror, fear, and survival. Red is also a very energizing color that can portray friendliness and strength, but can also be demanding and show aggression depending on its context.

Overall, if you’re looking to have a really powerful presence or get someone’s attention fast, red is your go-to color. Just remember to use it sparingly to avoid the extreme negative reactions it can so easily awaken.


ORANGE FAMILY

Orange has a very interesting psychological meaning as it combines red’s power and energy with yellow’s friendliness and fun. The mix makes orange a good representation of physical comfort in our warmth, food, and shelter. (It even stimulates our appetite so watch out if you’re hungry!)

Orange is also known to be a color of motivation, lends a positive attitude, and general enthusiasm for life. Overall, orange is great for bringing comfort in tough times, and creating a sense of fun or freedom in your visuals.


YELLOW FAMILY 

Yellow is the epitome of joy, happiness, cheerfulness, optimism—you name it. Anything happy is almost always yellow. The wavelength of yellow is particularly long, making it have one of the most powerful psychological meanings, while also being the easiest color to visibly see. (Did you know yellow is the first color infants respond to?)

Whenever you need to lift someone’s spirits, increase their confidence, or provide inspiration, use yellow. However, avoid using yellow too much because it’s also known to make us more critical causing self esteem issues, fear, or anxiety. Find the right balance of yellow to motivate rather than bring others down.


GREEN FAMILY

Green is a color of balance and harmony. It lends us a clearer sense of right from wrong since green incorporates a balance of both the logical and emotional. Green is one of the most-seen colors in nature reflecting life, rest, and peace. It is also a sign of growth, whether that’s in a physical object like plants or in our income and wealth.

Overall, if you’re looking to portray health, rest, and to relieve stress, green is your color. While green does have minor negative aspects like over-possession and materialism, it has a more positive affect than most other colors.


BLUE FAMILY

Blue is known for its trust and dependability. It’s reliable, responsible, and mentally soothing. For that reason alone, it’s one of the most-liked colors across the entire world.

Unlike red, blue lends a more mental reaction rather than physical that allows us to destress, calm down, and think of the most ideal situation. Unfortunately, it also is one of the last colors to be seen, and can be perceived as distant, cold, or unfriendly if used it great amounts.

Overall, blue is a well-liked color that can bring a sense of calmness and trust when building relationships, especially in marketing.


PURPLE FAMILY

Purple is most commonly known for its imagination and spirituality. It possesses the energy and power of red, with the stability and reliability of blue, making it a perfect balance between the physical and spiritual. Purple is often used to show luxury, loyalty, courage, mystery, and magic.

It’s a very intriguing color as it soothes, but also presents space for mystery and new ideas. This is why creativity is most often associated with the color purple. When using purple, avoid using it too often as it can also cause too much introspection or distraction as thoughts begin to wonder.


PINK FAMILY

Pink is a softer, less intense version of red that creates a sense of compassion and unconditional love. While it’s a very physical color, it soothes rather than stimulates, making it a perfect color for caring, understanding, and nurturing those in need.

Pink is a sign of hope. It is also known to be very romantic as it shows empathy and sensitivity. If too much pink is used, it can be very draining, show a lack of power, and even immature. Overall, pink can be a great counter-option to the color red when used appropriately.


BROWN FAMILY

Brown, while maybe not the most visual stimulating color, is a great sign of structure, security, and protection. Whether it’s family, friends, and material possessions, brown offers constant support.

It’s also a very serious, down to earth color you can use where black might be too intense. The downfall to brown is that it’s the most safe color and can seem reserved, scheduled, and boring. Overall, use it when necessary, but don’t depend on it too heavily.


GOLD FAMILY

Gold has quite a few different meanings depending on your culture. Across the world, though, gold consistently represents some variation of charm, confidence, luxury, and treasure. It also can have an element of friendliness, abundance, and prosperity that is naturally attractive. Too much gold, however, can seem egotistical, proud, and self-righteous. Similar to colors like brown and black, try to use gold more sparingly to highlight rather than be the main attraction. Also, it's important to note that gold isn't actually a color, it's a metal. So you may find that you need to find a tan, caramel or shade of, that works for you.


BLACK/GREY FAMILY

Black is a color of sophistication, seriousness, control, and independence. Although, it can also be used to show evil, mystery, depression, and even death. Black is a very reserved color that completely lacks any light as its an absence of all the colors. It likes to stay hidden, in control, and separate from others. For this reason, black is a great color for high contrast and easy legibility. Unfortunately, since its a very powerful color, too much black can cause sadness and overall negativity so use it sparingly and in your text more so than the visuals itself.


WHITE/GREY FAMILY

White is color that is complete and pure, making it a perfect example of purity, innocence, cleanliness, and peace. White can also represent new beginnings, providing a blank slate, and gives refreshment for new ideas. Since white has an equal balance of all the colors, it can exemplify several meanings, with equality outweighing them all. White is a great color for simplicity, cleanliness, and idea creation; however, avoid using too much white as it can cause isolation, loneliness, and emptiness.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Sandra McLemore is a digital marketing & business growth expert who got her start in the travel business over 20 years ago as a retail travel agent for STA Travel in a busy campus store front. She then worked her way into VP level in marketing, media and PR roles for the world's biggest cruise lines and travel brands.

 

Sandra is now the owner of TRAVEL MARKETING & MEDIA (formerly Village Girl Marketing), a marketing agency for travel brands specializing in content creation, design and media.

 

Sandra is also the creator of THE TRAVEL AGENT'S SUITCASE and TRAVEL MARKETING REVOLUTION.

 

Each service and program helps travel agents to get a consistent flow of new clients through smart marketing strategies.

 

Over 12,000 travel agents have taken Sandra's online training, and signed up for her digital marketing solutions.

Sandra lives in Los Angeles and hosts a number of travel programs on cruise line and airline TV and can be seen on network news programs as a leading travel industry expert.  Heading off to the best travel trade conferences? You'll most likely catch her on stage there too!

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