How colour communicates meaning
#1 It Affects your Mood
Most of us have a favourite colour or prefer some colours over others. This is because can affect our moods so we surround ourselves in the colours that have a positive impact on our mood.
Red can boost your energy, yellow often makes people feel happier, and blue is proven to bring down blood pressure and slow your heart rate which is why it is often associated with being relaxing. If you combine the happiness of yellow and the relaxing feel of blue you get green, a very pleasing colour for many people.
Mental health units are known to use pastel tones on their walls so that patients feel calm, happy, and relaxed. Walls that are beige with a pink tint combined with mint green floors are a popular combination as it is said to create a soothing, harmonious and calm area. At the other end of the spectrum, literally, schools tend to user bright colours that appeal to children.
When choosing colours for your next design it is important to consider how they will combine and sit with the other elements on the page and what impact that will have on the mood of your audience.
#2 Colours Communicate Invisibly
Wassily Kandinsky was one of the first pioneers of colour theory. A renowned Russian painter and art theorist, he is often considered the founder of abstract art. Kandinsky believed the following colours communicate the following qualities:
Yellow – warm, exciting, happy
Blue – deep, peaceful, supernatural
Green – peace, stillness, nature
White – harmony, silence, cleanliness
Black – grief, dark, unknown
Red – glowing, confidence, alive
Orange – radiant, healthy, serious
#3 Colour has Cultural Significance
Different colours mean different things in different places. This is extremely important for designers to know because without an awareness of the cultural significance of a particular colour, you risk offending your entire target audience.
Purple for example is a colour of mourning in Thailand. In western culture however, it is associated with royalty, luxury, wealth and sometimes magic. The brand colour for Thai Airways is purple. On first glance this seems like a huge error on their part because as mentioned above, purple is a colour of mourning in Thailand.
It is most likely however, that the Thai Airways website isn’t aimed at locals but at tourists, therefore if westerners view the site and see purple it will associate Thai Airways with values such as luxury and comfort.
Other examples are:
In western cultures black is a colour of mourning
In Japan however it is a colour of honour, with white the colour of mourning
Red in the west represents danger, love, passion
In India it is a colour of purity, in China it is a colour of good luck and in South Africa it is a colour of mourning
Yellow represents courage in Japan, mourning in Egypt and hope in the West
#4 Colour can be Inspired by our Surroundings
We live in a colourful world, a world that acts as the perfect inspirational trigger for design. The best thing about looking to the environment for design solutions is that the palette is always changing, from autumnal oranges to cold winter blues. So where better to look than out of your window, take in the colours and then apply them to your designs.
Drawing inspiration from nature for your designs also makes you look at the world differently. Normally we whiz by from place to place but you notice the finer details and undiscovered gems when you actually stop to take it in.