Psychology of Color and Choice

by: Preston Schmidt

What's Your Favorite Color?

There have been many studies into the psychological effects of color and it's relation to the stimulation of human emotions and patterns of choice. Many have wondered at the associative affects color choice may have with any given individual, especially in relation to business and customer purchasing habits.

However, there is no clear line between color and the way a given individual will react to it. Complex environmental stimuli plays a significant role in how all of us react to colors, and the impact on perception doesn't stop there. Studies have shown cultural influence can play a role in our color preferences, as well as personal memory, and associations stimulated by color that may tie emotion to events. The fact is that each of us is unique, and may relate color to different meanings based on our own perception, personal history, and influences of our environment.

Mood, Gender, and Age

Other factors that may influence our perception of color can be ambient temperature, present mood, gender, and even age. Names given to colors can sometimes have a stronger impact on a persons desire to purchase a product, or perform an action than the color itself, lending yet another layer to our cognitive perception and responses.

So what does color really mean? It's hard to say, but below is a table with basic colors and their inherent values.

  • The color blue has a wavelength of about 475 nm
  • The color green has a wavelength of about 510 nm
  • The color yellow has a wavelength of about 570 nm
  • The color red has a wavelength of about 650 nm

One area where we may very well put value to inherent color is with food. Color associations with food and health can be more substantial, but reflect an area of life not attached to marketing and branding.

Branding With Color

But that does not mean there is no use for color theory and how we can apply it our marketing endeavors.

There is still a great need for good color theory when it comes to marketing, as there have been studies performed that show when it comes to company branding, color can be of great importance. Now remember, it's not about the color itself, but the color's expected relationship to the expected company brand. Even though we may all perceive colors differently to some extent, there have been enough commonalities through time to generate some expected relationships when it comes to color. For example, power tools typically are not bright pink. Banks do not usually have wild neon colors.

There are some associations you can give thought to for your brand and your color choices, a way to add validity and acceptance by choosing a color that "reflects" the type of personality your business conveys, and the type of services or products your business provides.

So don't think of color so much as a way to influence your audience, but more a way to concur their current thoughts and impressions, and validate their expectations.

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