People associate different meanings and effects with colors. Certain emotions can be aroused by the right choice of color. But what do the colors actually mean? What effects are attributed to the respective colors in psychology, the harmony theory of Feng Shui and in fashion?
The answers to these questions and interesting facts about the significance of colors in design, branding and marketing can be found here.
All Colors have meaning
Red is associated with marriage in India, in China it is better not to bring white flowers as a guest gift and the color green is said to bring bad luck when worn on stage. Color symbolism has the most diverse backgrounds in cultures.
Moreover, as history shows, the meaning of colors changes throughout the ages. It is historical coincidences that influence the perception of colors or special events that ensure that certain colors are associated with positive or negative experiences.
In addition, depending on the culture, the effect of colors can be more or less pronounced or even develop a completely different meaning.
The unconscious effect and meaning of colors
The fact that colors have a certain effect on people unconsciously has long since ceased to be a secret in color psychology. Modern brain research has also come to the conclusion that humans generally behave neither consciously nor rationally. If you believe the experts, decisions are often made on the basis of emotional criteria. These and other findings from science are a valuable source for areas such as design, branding and marketing in today’s world.
A practical example: the tomato ketchup manufacturer Heinz enjoyed great success with green ketchup bottles in the USA a few years ago. However, despite marketing efforts, it was not possible to repeat the success in Germany. As market researchers discovered, green ketchup simply does not meet consumers’ expectations in this country.
When talking about the importance of colors, of course, do not forget about the ancient masters of Feng Shui. These have already worked more than 4,000 years before Christ with Daoist methods instead of science. Rooms or furniture were already then moved to the appropriate places to achieve positive effects on people. In any case, colors and their meanings also play a decisive role. And then there’s fashion, which brings out new seasonal trend colors every year and has its very own color symbolism, in which some special features have to be taken into account from culture to culture.
The meaning of the colors in detail
Which color stands for what? Color psychologists around the world have come up with many common denominators when it comes to the meaning of colors. The findings can be found below. But science is not everything. In addition, we have collected interesting facts about the meaning of colors in other cultures as well as corresponding color effects from areas such as Feng Shui or fashion. So you can get a better picture of the attributed properties of the colors blue, purple, red, yellow, green, orange, pink, brown, gray, black and white.
Blue Color Meaning
Blue is generally considered to be calming. However, the color can also mean coldness and distance. The color blue is associated with the sky, water, distance and the vastness of landscapes. Blue also represents innovation, technology, peace, harmony, reliability, loyalty and spirituality. If the study of researchers from the British Newcastle University is anything to go by, blue is the most popular color among people.
In feng shui, blue represents communication. The color can make rooms look larger and give cooling properties. This lends itself to entrance areas, for example. In fashion, blue radiates calm and confidence. The characteristic can be strengthened beyond that still with a larger grey portion.
In Eastern cultures, blue symbolizes immortality. Hinduism associates blue with Krishna, who stands for love and divine joy. To the Japanese, blue does not seem to be a very safe color, because evil intentions and supernatural events are associated with the color. In China they see it differently. There, blue is a color of wisdom and immortality.
Companies that use blue include Facebook, IBM, Intel, Volkswagen, Nivea, Deutsche Bank, Pepsi and Denim Jeans.
Purple – Violet Color Meaning
Purple (or violet) is associated with values such as wealth, luxury, passion, fantasy, esotericism or magic. But also mystery, restlessness, ambiguity, eccentricity or artificiality are attributed to the meaning of purple. Purple is also a frequently used color in Christian worship.
The color purple is also attributed rich, mystical, spiritual as well as meditative properties in feng shui. The color also has a very dignified effect in rooms and has absorbing, almost hypnotic properties. Insomniacs are therefore often recommended violet. In the field of clothing and fashion, violet appears self-confident to lush and can also come across as elegant and luxurious.
In historic Japan, only the highest-ranking Buddhist monks wore purple robes. In Brazil, Thailand, Venezuela and Turkey, however, purple is the color of mourning. In Japan, purple is not popular at weddings because the color represents fear and sin in the culture.
By the way, the Pantone color of the year 2018 has been “Ultra Violet”. The hue is said to express originality, ingenuity and visionary thinking, according to color experts.
Companies that use purple or violet include Cadbury, Milka, Yahoo!, BenQ, FedEx and the job portal Monster.
Red Color Meaning
The color red is attention-grabbing, striking, stimulating, warming, appetizing and energizing. Red represents passion, love, fire, blood, power and courage. However, the color can also be associated with danger, war, aggressiveness, anger or destruction.
Red represents an important color in Asian cultures. The color symbolizes values such as happiness, joy and prosperity. On their wedding day, brides in Asia often wear red. In India, too, red is associated with typical qualities such as purity, spirituality and creativity, in addition to marriage. Red also means good luck in Egypt and Iran. For some countries in Africa, however, red stands for death or aggression.
According to the teachings of Feng Shui, red has an aphrodisiac and stimulating effect. Among other things, red is suitable for bedrooms and is said to have a refreshing effect on people who have trouble getting out of bed in the morning. Red is a sensation in fashion. Clothing in red usually looks energetic and self-confident.
Red is the brand color of Coca-Cola, Ferrari, Marlboro, Virgin, Lego, Netflix and is also used by the fire department and the Red Cross.
Yellow Color Meaning
In color psychology, the color yellow is often associated with summer and the sun. The hue appears bright, cheerful, friendly, optimistic, open, liberal and communicative. However, the color yellow can also mean shame, selfishness, greed and envy (Proverb: “Someone turns yellow with envy.”).
In feng shui, yellow emphasizes energy and intelligence. In rooms, the color can also promote curiosity and the ability to concentrate – a “working color”, in other words. But appetite and digestion are also said to be stimulated. Clothes in yellow have an invigorating effect and radiate a certain friendliness.
In Egypt, people also like yellow. There the color stands for luck. In traditional Chinese color symbolism, the color yellow also means power and prosperity. The Japanese are also reminded of noble houses and for the most part feel grace at the sight of the color yellow.
Well-known companies with yellow color are Deutsche Post, DHL, ADAC, Opel, Nikon, McDonald’s and the gas station groups Shell and Jet.
Green Color Meaning
Green is hope? That’s right. Green also represents balance, spring and nature, life, happiness, growth, harmony, health, regeneration and more. However, green is also associated with poison. Jealousy and immaturity is also green.
What does Feng Shui say about it? Green has a calming and relaxing effect. Besides the positive effect on the nerves, green is also said to be restful and healing. Accordingly, green is therefore a kind of anti-stress color. Feng shui masters see positive applications in areas such as kitchens or toilets.
Green is traditionally forbidden in Indonesia. In Mexico, green means independence. Green is also a traditional color in Islam. Eastern cultures associate the color with youth and fertility – but also infidelity. In India, green symbolizes purity and harmony, while in Japan, the future and youth are associated with the color.
Companies that rely on green include Starbucks, Spotify, Acer, the Android operating system or the XBox console.
Orange Color Meaning
Orange is an active color that is considered youthful, friendly, warm and stimulating. It is also attributed with appetizing properties. The color orange also radiates creativity, vitality, joie de vivre and optimism. Along with brown, orange is the color of autumn. However, orange can also look childish, unserious or artificial and cheap.
In Feng Shui, orange is attributed positive properties. In rooms, the color has a friendly and warm-hearted effect. Orange also stimulates the energy as well as mood and on top of that should give additional strength. Orange is thus a pick-me-up and an ideal color against boredom and monotony. Even in terms of fashion and clothing, orange is associated with these positive properties.
Buddhist monks wear robes in the color orange. Saffron, a soft orange hue, is considered auspicious and sacred in Hinduism. Orange is also the color of the Dutch royal family. In Japan, orange is a symbol of love. The Chinese associate movement and change with the color. In Colombia, orange symbolizes sexuality and fertility. However, orange can also be a symbol of danger. Convict clothing is also orange in some countries.
Orange is also used as a brand color by companies such as Harley-Davidson, Amazon, Fanta, Sixt car rental or the luxury brand Hermès.
Pink Color Meaning
Pink (or “rose”) is a feminine color. It is friendly, romantic, delicate, charming, sweet and sensitive. Pink is THE color to give a feminine touch to designs. However, the color pink can also come across as arrogant, scheming or egocentric. Pink is also associated with homosexuality.
Pink is said to counteract stress in feng shui. Pink walls come across as girly, but promise to deliver positive impulses and a certain stability. Pink is also said to have a calming effect, according to some color psychologists. The color is therefore actually being used more and more in prisons.
How color symbolism has changed over the course of time can be seen above all in the example of the color pink. Until the 1940s, pink was a typical color for boys. Girls’ clothes at that time were often blue, the color of the Virgin Mary.
In Korea, the color pink symbolizes trust. In China, the color only gained popularity through Western influences.
Companies such as Deutsche Telekom (magenta), Vitoria’s Secret, Cosmopolitan magazine and the manufacturer Matell adorn themselves with pink in the logo for the Barbie doll