Have you ever stopped and wondered why you choose certain colors of your clothes? May be a small child has asked you why policemen wear blue uniforms. Perhaps you have even wondered why people in the design field use certain colors. In this article I will try to shed some light on the meaning of colors.
Power, authority, elegance, strength, formality, mystery, death, evil, submission
Black signifies the bad guy and fear of the unknown. On the other hand, black can be elegant and powerful, such as a black Tux or expensive car. Black is a good color to make other colors stand out when on display.
Light, safety, goodness, innocence, purity, cleanliness, faith
White usually signifies the good guy. The medical profession uses white to suggest sterile and safety. Angels, snow, and dairy products are usually associated with white.
Joy, happiness, intellect, energy, caution, warmth, cheer
Yellow is a warm cheerful color. It is associated with the sun. Yellow is a good color to use for projects that are humorous, friendly, or exciting. Yellow is also used to get our attention and warn us of danger. When over used yellow has the opposite effect on people.
Energy, happiness, enthusiasm, fascination, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, stimulation
Orange is another highly visible color used to attract attention. A lot of foods and toys are orange. Orange in the food industry is associated with being healthy.
Energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination, passion, desire, love, romance, vitality, earthly
Red is another color that grabs our attention. Since it is a high visibility color red is used to signal danger. Some people associate red with aggressive behavior. Red is also used to entice people into making quick decisions.
Stability, energy, power, magic, nobility, luxury, sophistication, ambition, wealth, wisdom, extravagance, dignity, creativity, mystery, independence
Magicians and Royalty are often identified with purple. Different shades and tints of purple can evoke feelings of romance or being nostalgic.
Wisdom, loyalty, confidence, tranquility, intelligence, faith, truth, sincerity, heaven, calmness, peaceful
Blue is associated with law, order, and honesty. Hence police, banks, and hospitals. Blue is a cool color, like water and the sky. Blue is not used often for food items because it makes food unappetizing.
Growth, nature, harmony, life, freshness, fertility, safety, calm, refreshing
Green is a fresh non threatening color. It is perceived as a restful, non threatening color. Green can signify endurance, safety, and stability. The color green is associated with money.
There you have it, my interpretation of what colors mean. I'm sure someone else has another idea on color meanings. Other countries attach different meanings to colors than we do in America. But, I think I will leave that for another time.
Joann Snell is a freelance Graphic Designer. She specializes in print, corporate id, branding, and other marketing tools for small-medium sized businesses. Article by Joann Snell 2007, March 30 http://www.josgraphicdesigns.com