The Emotional Value of Color

It is widely accepted that colors affect us psychologically and even physically. Colors like bright red or orange can create a feeling of energy while a green or blue color may make us feel more relaxed. In theory, colors can be used to express/instill emotions and encourage a physical behavior.

Cool and Warm Colors

Colors that are familiar with ice, water, and plant-life bring on a ‘cooler’ feel and can actually lower your heart rate and body temperature, while colors synonymous with fire, like red, can do the opposite. Of course, nothing is absolute and it really is based on the context in which these colors are used.

For example, take a look at the following:

In this example you’ll notice that even though these colors are in the red/orange range, colors 2 and 4 tend to feel cooler when placed next to their brighter/bolder counterparts.

Of course, in addition to a psychological and physical response, our responses are influenced by our individual culture. For example, in societies where driving is common practice, the color red is clearly associated with “stop” and green is with “go”. However, in areas where vehicles are rare this association does not exist.

Emotional Properties
Colors are used extensively in everyday life and it is important for you to understand the effects they may have on your respective audience. When applying it to a design, whether it be a logo, website, brochure, poster, or even an office room, consider your target market/users and what emotions you’d like to bring about. Here is a quick-list of emotional properties colors can carry:

  • Red: vitality, strength, warmth, sensuality, assertion, anger, and impatience
  • Pink: calmness, kindness, unselfish love
  • Orange/Peach: joy, security, creativity, stimulation
  • Yellow: happiness, mental stimulation, optimism, fear
  • Green: harmony, relaxation, peace, calmness, sincerity, contentment, generosity, jealousy, envy
  • Turquoise: mental calmness, concentration, confidence, refreshment
  • Blue: peace, spaciousness, hope faith, flexibility, acceptance
  • Indigo/violet: spirituality, intuition, inspiration, contemplation, purification
  • White: peace, purification, isolation, spaciousness
  • Black: femininity, protection, restriction, authority, power, elegance
  • Gray: independence, separation, loneliness, self-criticism
  • Silver: change, balance, femininity, sensitivity
  • Gold: wisdom, abundance, idealism
  • Brown: Nurturing, earthiness, retreat

For further reading, visit Sensational Color