Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The hidden meaning of colour

Visual experiences
Visual experiences are all about colour and pleasing the eye. Colour can make something boring or chaotic if not used correctly.

It is important to know the emotions and meanings that colours represent, particulary when choosing colours for a brand or advertising. This will represent you and your company and you do not want to alienate your target audience. Beware of fashions and trends as these have a limited lifespan.

Harmony is something that is pleasing to the eye. It engages the viewer and it creates an inner sense of order, a balance in the visual experience. When something is not harmonious, it’s either boring or chaotic. At one extreme is a visual experience that is so bland that the viewer is not engaged. The human brain will reject understimulating information.

At the other extreme is a visual experience that is so overdone, so chaotic that the viewer can’t stand to look at it. The human brain rejects what it can not organize, what it can not understand. The visual task requires that we present a logical structure. Colour harmony delivers visual interest and a sense of order.

Complementary colours
Complementary colours are any two colours which are directly opposite each other, such as red and green. These opposing colors create maximum contrast and maximum stability.

Harmonious colours
Harmonious colours are any three colors which are side by side on a colour wheel, such as yellow-green, and yellow-orange. Usually one of the three colors predominates.

Colour associations
Colours have meanings that go beyond ink (usually postives and negatives) and it is helpful to keep this in mind. Also remember that different cultures associate different things with differnt colours.

Red Passion, love, exciting, strength, power, sexuality and action but also represents stop, hot, impulsiveness, anger, impatience and violence.

Orange Courage, friendliness, energy, cheerfulness and warmth along with deceit, distrust and ignorance.

Blue Trust, tranquility, patience, loyalty, acceptance, understanding, cooperation and comfort along side fear, coldness and depression.

Purple Historically this colour is related to royalty and religion but also with foreboding and gloom.

Green Cool, environment, go, balance, harmony, hope, growth, freshness and soothing but also represents envy, illness and greed.

White  Associated with pure, safety, power, elegance, cleanliness and fresh along with cold, distant, guilt and greed.

Yellow Happiness, intelligence, caution, brightness, joy, and sunshine but also laziness and cowardice.

Black Cold, serious, strength and elegance but also with fear, evil, death and grief.

At the end of the day colour is a personal preference but this information is very useful when considering your target audience and brand.