Color Me Crazy: An Exploration into Psychology and Color Theory Part 2

If you missed last week’s blog, make sure to go check it out, because this week we will continue our exploration into color theory and the role it plays in advertising and branding whether it be personal or professional. Last week we covered most of the colors used in everyday advertising materials. This week, we will examine some colors with more abstract meaning which companies tend to use in more abstract senses and really try to hone in on the meanings behind them. Then, next week, we will unpack the four personality types proposed by Angela Wright, the groups of colors she named “color families”, and how those families correspond to different personality types.

Orange

The perfect mix of red and yellow, orange is a color which connotes physicality and happiness simultaneously. Often attributes to childlike action and spontaneity, orange is related to taking gut action. This is best shown through the Nickelodeon logo. Even through countless reinterpretations over the years, the same bold orange has always been a trademark of the brand. Surely the designers in charge realized that childish excitement is showcased most readily through the use of orange. This could also be a reason behind the color scheme of all things Halloween. Aside from the parallel to pumpkins, Halloween is a holiday centered around childhood adventure and becoming someone new, so orange is an obvious choice. It is also a the color proven to most increase appetites, which is why many restaurants feature orange (or more subtle peach and coral) colored plates, menus, and decor. When people eat more, they pay more.

Pink

Love, nurturing, and all things considered culturally feminine are attributed to pink. Take a look inside any retailer focused on women and girls and you’re sure to get an eyeful of this calming color. Victoria’s Secret even has an entire clothing line just named after the color. Attributed to innocence, sweetness, and naiveté, pink is, by itself, often written off as an unmarketable color used only for girls’ toys. However, when paired with dark blues, greens, blacks, or grays, pink can offer a sense of sophistication and class to a brand struggling to tow the line between pretty and professional.

Black

The ultimate color of taking cover, black makes people feel protected. Power, control, and elitism are also attributed to the color black as it connotes a sense of discipline and authority. If you are striving to lead in a professional field, black is the color for you. Its sleek, dignified, yet understated tone looks formal and sophisticated without trying too hard. Be careful in which industries you employ this color. Black has a long history in car logos, pairing with chrome to make many luxury brands look, well, luxurious. However, black is also a color of pessimism and aloofness, so it may not be the best for a therapist’s office. Potential clients may see the black lettering or logo and be instantly turned off because the color, or lack thereof, has already dampened their moods. Black is tricky, so make sure it is used properly to avoid complications.

Brown

Seriousness and stability are the cornerstones of the color brown as it relates to color theory. Brown is a down-to-earth, no-nonsense color which often symbolizes comfort, dependability, simplicity, practicality, frugality, and approachability. When someone wants a job done right and with as little fuss as possible, they will trust the color brown. That’s why UPS has a logo rooted primarily in shades of brown. People want to trust that their packages will arrive at their destinations on time, so UPS chose a color which says, “we’re reliable!” Brown is also used to harken back to “the good old days.” When people want something nostalgic, brown is a color that makes

people think about a simpler time. The Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, a restaurant with the atmosphere of a small-town store with locations around the country, relies on a brown and dark gold color scheme in their logo to help equate them with simpler times. When it comes to comfort, brown is everywhere due to two things: coffee and chocolate. Both of these products, while brown in color themselves, also connote a sense of contentment and relaxation. For these two reasons, brown is a natural choice for everything from Hershey themselves to a local coffee shop.

These less common secondary colors can be wonderful accents to help build the perfect color scheme for any office, logo, or professional website. It’s amazing to think about the psychology behind the colors we see in our everyday lives. Next week, in our final blog on color theory, we’re going to dive into Angela Wright’s ideas on “color families” and figure out how different shades of the same color can make or break your office space. What colors suit you best? Be sure to check in when we post our final installation in the color series.