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Colour is an incredibly powerful factor in affecting our every day lives, yet most don’t think to much about it. Whilst perception of how colour effects different people is seemingly subjective and based around timing and context, there are some universal conclusions that you can draw from different colours and how people respond to them.
Here are a list of 10 colours or in some cases shades and some of the psychological effects behind them.
Black isn’t generally regarded as a colour as it absorbs all colours. In terms of the psychological effect though, that can really depend on experience and personal preference, however there are positive and negative associations with Black and conclusions to draw.
On the positive side, black to some can invoke a sense of attractiveness and elegance. This is the reason why usually formal events tend to be “black tie”. High end fashion brands tend to adopt this for the simplicity and the sophisticated look and appeal.
On the negative side, this colour has been used to symbolise a lot of negativity. It has been tied to death and evil. Black can in certain contexts evoke feelings of anger, aggression, fear and sadness.
Even when we look to films, the bad guy can invariably seen in black (not all) but is often a stereotype for criminals. It also has general negative associations, for example, black magic, black hearted and “the black sheep” to name a few.
When thinking about using Black in the office environment, consider how this might effect your employees and perhaps use black sparingly. To much and the sophisticated look could turn dark.. or black!
Like Black, white can also be used in both positive and negative contexts. White can convey cleanliness and simplicity, which is why it is used in a lot of modern offices. Bright white can be used to create a sense of space or add highlights and can be used to make rooms seem larger.
On the other side, depending on how it is used, white can seem spacious, but unfriendly and bare. A large white empty room can often seem boring or bland.
When used as part of the company’s’ colours, white can be used to evoke feelings of safety, purity and clean with a lot of major brands using this. In the office though it is important to use white in conjunction with other colours as using to much could make it seem uninviting and cold. Choosing white desks and white walls might be a little to much!
Red is a vibrant eye-catching colour and can grab anyone’s attention quickly when placed among other colours. It also evokes a lot more of a powerful emotional response and can be used for a variety of uses.
As the colour itself is bright, red is often used to warn of danger, so is used on stop signs, fire engines etc…
It is also associated with excitement, energy, aggression, dominance, passion and power. It’s for these reasons that you may want to use this sparingly within your office environment.
The fast-food chain MacDonalds, famously changed their colours from Red and Yellow, to Green. Originally, they used red to stand out and be seen, however their customer experience was to try and get a high turnover of customers so they didn’t want to create an environment where you would sit and eat for a long time. This strategy however was overturned when they chose to rebrand their stores with a much more inviting colour, green.
Blue is a colour that is often associated with calmness and serenity. When we look at a blue sky or a blue sea, we often describe it as tranquil or peaceful. On the flip side, certain shades of blue can often evoke a feeling of sadness and melancholy, as we see this when someone says that they are feeling “a bit blue” or someone having “the blues”.
In the commercial world, blue is often used as a sign of stability and reliability. Research has also shown that a blue environment can also increase productivity. Whilst this may be the case, it is not as simple as that. If you are looking to create a quiet space in your office where people can focus then blue may be the colour for you. However if you are trying to create a collaborative and creative space, then perhaps you might want to look at some other colour options.
This is a colour that is often described as relaxing and cool. Often associated with nature, much like blue, green can also evoke feelings of tranquillity.
The colour is also associated with money, luck and health as well as nature however is also used when describing someone who is ill with the phrase “turning green”. It is also used to describe something that is new in reference to something being unripe “he’s a bit green”.
Whilst green is a relaxing colour, studies have shown that it actually can motivate people and it is the colour of choice with people that have a high need for achievement. In terms of the office, the use of green can create a calm more natural environment, but can also help with motivation.
Yellow is a very vibrant colour and can be used to grab someone's attention. It is an energetic colour and as you can imagine, over use of the yellow colour could potentially be a bit overwhelming. In fact whilst it can create energy, it can also stimulate aggression and can be irritating to look at for some if it is too bright. This is definitely worth considering when choosing colours for your office, particularly if you intend on bringing in new clients.
Whilst yellow is eye-catching it probably has one of the most varied emotional reactions for people, due to it being complex, even though it is a primary colour. Some view it as a happy colour yet for some it can cause unconscious aggression, so we would really suggest using this sparingly in your place of work!
Purple is a rich colour and is a combination of blue and red. Often associated with wealth and royalty, which actually dates back to ancient times and has been used throughout the ages to signify status and high class.
Whilst the different meanings behind colours can vary across the different cultures, purple is also linked to bravery and wisdom with links to the divine.
Depending on the shade, it can evoke different emotions, so for instance a deep colour and darker shade can often be associated with more negative emotions, such as sadness, however the lighter shades have a more romantic feel.
When thinking about using purple within your office and furniture, you may want to think about the shade that you use. If you are looking to create an atmosphere that evokes a more high status look, be careful that you don’t use too dark shades!
Brown is a very interesting colour as whilst due to it being seen a lot in nature it can evoke feelings of strength and reliability, however used to much can evoke feelings of loneliness and isolation. The amount and the shades that you use are very important, like most other colours, when you are thinking about your office. If you are looking to create a warm and inviting office brown could be a choice for you to consider.
When thinking about using this in your branding, it is important to think about your brands personality. Are you a eco focused brand? Using brown and green to to symbolise your focus on preserving nature can be a very quick way for potential customers to form a positive view of you.
Within the workplace it can also be used to emphasize this by creating a warm environment but be careful not to over do it!
Orange, like yellow is a vibrant attention grabbing colour, that generally has a more warm tone and is often used in marketing. It can be described as energetic and uplifting however depending on the shade and amount that you use can be overwhelming.
People often associate the colour with happiness as it is associated in nature with bright sunsets, the warm feeling from the sun, as well as fruits. Orange can also be seen in fire and can evoke energy when seen.
Interestingly that research has shown that whilst the colour is friendly, consumers often associate this with more inexpensive products, so it maybe something to consider when choosing colours for your brand and office environment.
Most commonly described as a more feminine colour ,research suggests that pink is thought to have a calming effect and also tends to be a colour that people associate with pleasant memories.
Pink can be described as joyful, creative and also passionate which might be good for domestic environments, but perhaps something to think about when choosing this for your office or workplace.
Often described as a more feminine colour, due to the emotions that it evokes, pink is generally tends to be used in branding and in the offices of businesses that provide products that have females as their target customers.
So what can we conclude?
In conclusion as you can see that whilst colours can mean different things to different cultures and experiences, there are some universal traits that cause a core emotional response to nearly everyone.
Colour is extremely important when deciding on your office decor and whilst keeping in mind your companies niche and ethos, choosing the right colour for you office decor and office furniture can have an effect on your company culture.
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