The Psychology of Colors

31 Jul

When creating a print piece, it’s important that you do more than pick a color scheme that works well together.  Research has shown that different colors convey different meanings, so choosing colors that reinforce the message you’re sending will avoid confusing your audience.

Red – Exciting Color

Symbolizes strength, passion, and energy. These characteristics make it a very exciting color, and popular for sports cars, the “power tie,” and national flags.

Orange – Exciting Color

A combination of Red and Yellow, Orange symbolizes warmth, tropical settings, and fun.  The color orange is also closely associated with citrus fruits, and conveys a sense of health and well-being.

Yellow – Exciting Color

Yellow is the brightest color the human eye is capable of seeing, and represents happiness, youth, and energy.  Designers using yellow should be careful to ensure that the yellow is bright and vibrant, rather than dark.  Dark, deep yellows evoke strong comparisons to urine and should be used with great care.

Yellow is also very difficult to read against a white background, so only use a bright yellow for text with a darker background.

Green – Calming Color

Green symbolizes nature, health, and wealth.  Green is a very relaxing color and can often have a calming effect on viewers.  With the onset of the ‘green revolution,’ the color green has become a very popular design choice.

Blue – Calming Color

Blue signifies creativity, intelligence, and loyalty.  Blue is the most commonly held “favorite color” for individuals, and is a very popular choice for corporations. Blue is an excellent color for water, but should be avoided when creating layouts for food, as very few blue foods occur in nature and blue may cause them to seem unnatural.

Purple – Calming Color

Purple is a combination of blue and red, and combines the loyalty of blue with the energy of red.  Throughout history purple has signified royalty, wealth, extravagance, and spirituality.  Because purple mixes both an exciting color and a calming color, using too much purple can cause moodiness.


Black symbolizes sophistication and wealth, and is often used in fashion. Black also creates excellent contrast with most bright colors, making it a very popular background color for image galleries.

Black also has some negative characteristics: Evil and fear are also associated with the color, so color schemes incorporating a lot of black should be carefully balanced to avoid appearing sinister.


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