Artists, advertisers and interior designers have long used color to affect moods and emotions. The field of color psychology is still growing and the amount of hard data is small, but experts generally agree that color does play some role in our reactions to visual stimuli. As you design digital signage messages, consider how the colors you’re using can affect your audience.
Each color has meaning for viewers due to our instinctive reactions to nature’s colors and a long history of color conditioning by advertisers. When you’re designing your messages, consider whether you want to stimulate or calm your audience. Do you want to make them happy or relate something serious?
Color certainly plays a big part in basic design principles for contrast and drawing attention, but you can also use colors for emotional triggers. In the Color Emotion Guide published by The Logo Company, they outline various color emotions and show popular logos for each.
Think about the color used for each logo and see if it matches your feelings about the brand:
- Yellow/Gold – Optimism, clarity, warmth
- Orange – Friendly, cheerful, confidence
- Red – Excitement, youthful, bold
- Purple – Creative, imaginative, wise
- Blue – Trust, dependable, strength
- Green – Peaceful, growth, health
- Silver/Gray – Balance, neutral, calm
A lot of color psychology is common sense. You wouldn’t use a dark, dreary color scheme to announce an exciting spring campaign, and you wouldn’t want bright, cheerful colors in a message about a building shutdown.
It’s important to remember that color psychology isn’t concrete across your audience. People’s reactions to colors can obviously be tinted (sorry for the pun) by their own experience and environment. Culture plays a huge part in color interpretation, as well. For example, white is used for innocence, purity and goodness in the West, but is often the color of funerals and mourning in the East.
Although color psychology isn’t an exact science, you can still use the existing research and common trends to help you design digital signage messages. Here are some resources you can use to understand color and its effect on your audience:
- Color Emotion Guide by The Logo Company
- Color Psychology (Wikipedia)
- How Colors Impact Moods, Feelings and Behaviors
- How Color Impacts Emotions and Behaviors
- Emotions Color Wheel
- Cultural Meanings of Color and Color Symbolism