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Color Symbolism

“With color one obtains an energy that seems to stem from witchcraft.” ~Henri Matisse


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U.G.Dinushi Supunsala

a year ago | 10 min read

Certain shades or tones may result in very different meanings. Also, the context around the color, and even surrounding colors, can have an effect. Colors hold significance for people around the world. Not only do colors influence emotion, but they also hold meaning in religion and various cultures. Every color has its own way to express the feelings. Let’s dive into the emotions and feelings that different colors can evoke. The following is a list of colors and possible meanings of each color.

Black

The color black has different symbolic meanings. Black evokes power, luxury, elegance, but can also mean professionalism, neutrality and simplicity. It’s bold, powerful and is often used to evoke mystery. In certain contexts and cultures the color black can also refer to mourning or sadness.

But individual reactions to the color black can vary widely. According to German scientist Hermann von Helmholz, “Black is real sensation, even if it is produced by entire absence of light. The sensation of black is distinctly different from the lack of all sensation.”

Black is often used as a symbol of menace or evil, but it’s also popular as an indicator of power. It’s used to represent treacherous characters such as Dracula and is often associated with witchcraft.

Different Uses for the Color Black

Feng Shui

In feng shui, a way of harmonizing your home, office, and other environments, each color represents a feng shui element. Black is associated with the water element and envokes power, mystery, and calm.1 When it’s used sparingly, black has a grounding effect on your environment.

Marketing

In marketing and branding psychology, black is associated with boldness, formality, mystery, strength, luxuriousness, and seriousness.

Famous brands that utilize black in their logos and marketing are Blackberry, Tiffany & Co., Apple, Disney, Nike, Gillette, Adidas, Sony, Ralph Lauren, and MTV. Besides being sleek, black is versatile and can be combined with any other color.

Color Psychology: The Color Black

· authority

· power

· strength

· evil

· intelligence

· thinning / slimming

· death or mourning

Black photograph
Black photograph

White

White means minimalism and simplicity. Using a lot of white color in design creates a minimalist aesthetic and can result a simple, fresh and clean look.

In many cultures, white is used to refer to virginity, purity and innocence (like bridal gowns and baby clothes). It’s also the most neutral color of all.

In Western cultures, the color white is often associated with weddings, hospitals, and angels and is often used to convey a sense of purity, cleanliness, and peacefulness. In many Eastern cultures, however, white is symbolically linked to death and sadness. It’s often a color used in funerals and other mourning rituals.

Color Psychology: The Color White

· purity

· innocence

· cleanliness

· sense of space

· neutrality

· mourning (in some cultures/societies)

white photograph
white photograph

Red

Red makes you feel passionate and energized. Red is the warmest and most dynamic of the colors — it triggers opposing emotions. It is often associated with passion and love as well as anger and danger.

It can increase a person’s heart rate and make them excited. If you want to draw attention to a design element, use red. But use it as an accent color in moderation as it can be overwhelming. In color psychology, red provokes the strongest emotions of any color.

While cool colors like green and blue are generally considered peaceful and calming, red is considered the warmest and most contradictory of the colors. In fact, this fiery hue has more opposing emotional associations than any other color: Red is linked to passion and love as well as power and anger.

Studies show that being exposed to or wearing red can cause some of the following physical effects

  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Enhanced metabolism
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased respiration rate

All of these physiological changes naturally cause your energy levels to spike. In the 2004 Olympics in Athens, competitors in four sports — boxing, Greco-Roman wrestling, freestyle wrestling, and taekwondo — were randomly assigned red or blue clothing. In all four competitions, red-clad contestants won more fights.

Many people think these results are due to the link between red and perceived dominance. For instance, donning a red uniform may cause an athlete to feel dominant and perform more aggressively.

Alternatively, athletes in red may be seen as more aggressive, more dominant, and more likely to win a physical competition not only by their opponents but also by the referees.

Red photograph
Red photograph

Blue

Blue is a color also seen in nature, such as the pale blue of the daytime sky or the deep pool of water’s rich dark blue. It is probably for this cause that people always characterize the color blue as peaceful and serene.

But blue can often appear shiny, far, or even cold as a cool color. Blue helps you feel secure and comfortable. Blue evokes feelings of peacefulness and spirituality, comfort and trust. The body produces hormones that relax it by seeing the colour blue. No wonder it is the favorite colour.

It is not surprising. Dark blues are perfect for corporate architecture and they can give you a professional aura, but too many can make you feel cold and disengaged. Light blues gives a more relaxed and soothing atmosphere. Great examples are social websites that use light blues like Facebook and Twitter.

Blue may also generate feelings of peace and relaxation. Take into account how a highly black painting, like Picasso created during his ‘blue age,’ could seem so lonely, sad, or overlooked. Blue is often used to decorate buildings, and evidence has shown that people in blue rooms are more efficient.

Blue is one of the most common colors, but one of the least appetizing. Some weight management strategies also say you eat from a blue dish. In addition to blueberries and some plums, blue rarely occurs naturally in fruit. The heart rate and body temperature can also be decreased by the Blue.

Associations with the color blue include:

· Trust

· Efficiency

· Coolness

· Security

· Sadness

Blue color photography
Blue color photography

Green

Health, new beginnings and prosperity symbolized by green. Green is the simplest between the eyes and can be used in a template to calm and stabilize. If a company wants to represent growth, safety or incentive possibility, it is a great color.

Green can feel comfortable and relaxed as well. How does the color green make you feel? For many people, it has strong associations with nature and immediately brings to mind the lush green of grass, trees, and forests. Perhaps because green is so heavily associated with nature, it is often described as a refreshing and tranquil color.

“Green, which is Nature’s colour, is restful, soothing, cheerful, and health-giving.” — Paul Brunton

Furthermore, researchers find that green would boost reading skills. Any students might find it increasing reading speed and understanding to lay a clear sheet of green paper over the reading content.

For its soothing influence, green is also used to decorate. In a “green space,” for example, visitors waiting for TV shows also wait to relax in green room.

The Effects of Green

· Green Is Calming

· Green Is Exciting

· Green Evokes Compassion

· Green Is Natural

· Green Is Optimistic

Green symbolizes ideas such as:

· Health

· Compassion

· Favor

· Ambition

· Passivity

Lime green photography
Lime green photography

Yellow

The yellow color may be luminous and vivid, which can contribute to such strong feelings. Yellow can get exposure easily, but when it’s overused it can get abrasive. It may look warm and light, but visual exhaustion can also occur.

This one is bright, attention-getting color is seen as a sunny, happy color, yet studies have also shown, paradoxically, that prolonged exposure to it can make adults lose their tempers and babies cry. As well as Yellow is perhaps the most energetic of the warm colors.

It is associated with laughter, hope and sunshine. Accents of yellow help give your design energy and will make the viewer feel optimistic and cheerful. However, yellow tends to reflect more light and can irritate a person’s eyes. Too much yellow can be overwhelming and should be used sparingly.

In design, it is often used to grab attention in an energetic and comforting way. While the color yellow can evoke a lot of different psychological reactions, it is important to remember that these responses are often unique to the individuals.

Associations with yellow include:

· Energy

· Hope

· Honor

· Fear

· Frailness

Purple

Purple makes you feel creative. Purple is associated with mystery, creativity, royalty and wealth. Lighter shades of purple are often used to soothe or calm a viewer, hence why it is used in beauty products. Incorporate purple to make a design look more luxurious and wealthy or a lighter purple to show romance and mystery.

Purple As a Royal Color

Purple is the royalty and richness symbol. In the old days, the making of purple colors, particularly for certain colors, always needed a lot of effort and cost. Because violet is less natural in nature, it was much difficult to manufacture a dye for purple and much more expensive.

The color purple became associated with wealth and royalty because very often the rich were the only individuals who could afford such expensive items.

Visually, purple is one of the most difficult colors to discriminate. It also has the strongest electromagnetic wavelength, being just a few wavelengths up from x-rays and gamma rays. For this reason, it is often used in visual illusions such as the lilac chaser illusion.

· Purple Is Regal

· Purple Is Sensual

· Purple Conveys Wisdom

· Purple Is Soothing

· Purple Is Mysterious

· Purple Is Exotic

Light purple colors represent romance and delicateness, while dark purple symbolizes sorrow, fear, and apprehensiveness.

Pink

Pink makes you feel playful and romantic. Pink represents femininity and romance, sensitivity and tenderness.

It’s inherently sweet, cute and charming. Many people associate color with all feminine and girly things at once. Romance and vacations, including Valentine’s Day, might even come to mind. Some pale rose colors are characterized as calming, while very bright and dynamic shades can stimulate or even worsen them.

It is important to remember that color associations are heavily affected by individual experiences and cultural influences. Color preferences are often linked to past experiences. Negative associations with the color pink include immaturity, physical weakness, and low self-confidence.

Pink is considered a fun color that also represents:

· Joyfulness

· Sweetness

· Calmness

· Passiveness

· Lack of willpower

Orange

How does the color orange make you feel? Orange can be a very strong and energetic color. Like yellow and red, it can be very attention-grabbing, which is perhaps why it is often used in advertising.

Orange makes you feel energized and enthusiastic. Orange boosts a sense of vitality and pleasure. Like red color, it is revealing and shifting, but it is not overpowering. It is aggressive, but balanced — it depicts energy but it can be friendly and inviting.

Orange is great for purchasing a product or subscribing to an action call. It’s association with autumn leaves and seasonal transitions can also make people think of change when they see it. Orange is also associated with warnings, though less strongly than red.

Psychology of color:

· Orange is an energetic color mix of yellow and red.

· Orange is strong, so many sports teams can use orange in jerseys, mascots and branding.

· Also, Orange is the color of luminous sunsets and fruits like oranges and mandarins; so many people may associate color with sunset beauty and citrus savor.

· Orange evokes feelings of enthusiasm, warmth and excitation.

· Orange, like traffic signs and publicity, often attracts attention.

· The color of the dying leaves and pumpkins is also associated with autumn and this.

· The color is also very closely related to Halloween in the U.S., so sometimes it can be dark or even cartoonic.

Brown

Although brown is not the most color-inspired, it can also be used to produce a normal, earthy tone. After all, timber, sand, mud and many other natural elements are brown color. This can make people see brown as wet, relaxed, safe and trustworthy.

As well as Brown tends to feel like a solid, earthy color, but it can sometimes seem drab and boring. Light browns such as beige are often used as neutrals in design and fashion.

While they can provide a conservative and traditional backdrop, these shades are often perceived as dull. Brown can also create feelings of loneliness, sadness, and isolation. In large quantities, it can seem vast, stark, and empty, like an enormous desert devoid of life.

Color Psychology: The Color Brown

· reliability

· stability

· friendship

· sadness

· warmth

· comfort

· security

· natural

· organic

· mourning (in some cultures/societies)

However, when it comes to clothing, brown was chosen as the fifth favorite color out of 18 total colors, including no preference. Brown was the second color choice for both men and women for their living rooms and the fourth choice for their bedrooms.

Gray

Gray feels serious and professional. Gray is considered to be fair and balanced between black and white. Its lack of color makes it useful, because it can be used in case many colors, without disturbing the design. gray also has some negative connotations in color psychology. It can appear dull or moody.

Color Psychology: The Color Gray

· neutral

· timeless

· practical

Each color has a meaning and taps into emotions. There’s a whole science (and art) in the meanings of colors. As an entrepreneur or designer, it’s essential to be aware of these color meanings to help you choose your colors wisely and tap into the magical power of color symbolism.

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Created by

U.G.Dinushi Supunsala

UI/UX Designer


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