The Basics

No matter what color you chose, every color begins with the use of the color wheel. Created by Isaac Newton in 1666 the color wheel, even with all of its transformations is still the main tool today for selecting the correct color(s) for any project.

How do the primary, secondary and tertiary colors that make up the color wheel affect us? Which color(s) will have you jump at a product verses color(s) that either makes you stop and think about the product or even walk away from a product? What happens when we combine different color combinations incorrectly? Studies have shown that 90% of snap judgments are made by color alone.

Before you can answer the questions above, you need to understand what each color on the color wheel means through emotion, a particular industry and how that industry uses it.

RED

emotion

excitement
energy
passion
courage
attention

industry

entertainment
food
sport
fire protection
products for children

used to

stimulate
create urgency
draw attention
caution
encourage

ORANGE

emotion

optimistic
independent
adventurous
creativity
fun

industry

art
entertainment
food
sports
transportation

used to

stimulate
communicate fun
draw attention
express freedom
fascinate

YELLOW

emotion

enthusiasm
opportunity
spontaneity
happiness
positivity

industry

food
sports
transportation
travel
leisure

used to

stimulate
encourage relaxation
awake awareness
energize
affect mood

LIME GREEN

emotion

growth
harmony
fertility
kindness
dependability

industry

environment
leisure
alternative energy
entertainment
education

used to

restore energy
promote growth
nurture
rejuvenate

KELLY GREEN

emotion

safety
harmony
stability
reliability
balance

industry

environment
banking
real estate
farming
non-profit

used to

relax
balance
revitalize
encourage
possess

SKY BLUE

emotion

freedom
self-expression
trustworthy
wisdom
joy

industry

entertainment
communication
products for children
technology
aerospace

used to

draw attention
inspire trust
suggest precision
communicate consciousness
stimulate productivity

VIOLET

emotion

imagination
spirituality
compassion
sensitivity
mystery

industry

food
humanitarian
psychic
religion
entertainment

used to

encourage creativity
inspire
wisdom and power
luxury
intuition

PINK

emotion

compassion
love
immature
playful
admiration

industry

products for children
woman’s products
beauty
fashion
clothing

used to

communication energy
increase pulse
motivate action
fascinate
encourage

BROWN

emotion

reliability
stability
honesty
comfort
natural

industry

agriculture
construction
transportation
legal
food

used to

stabilize
common sense
suppress emotions
create warmth
nature

GRAY

emotion

neutral
practical
conservative
formal
quiet

industry

all industries
(mostly used in 
combination
with other
colors)

used to

create composure
depressed energy
timelessness
elegance
practical

BLACK

emotion

power
control
authority
discipline
elegance

industry

all industries
(mostly used in 
combination
with other
colors)

used to

hide feelings
intimidate
radiate
authority
create fear

While these are the basics for understanding how color affects people differently, there are many other factors which you must consider. Not surprisingly, studies have shown that there are significant differences in how men and women see color and their individual color preferences. But there are some similarities:

Which color wins out for both men and women? Blue

Which color is most disliked between men and women? Brown and orange.

Another thing to consider is, what one color means in one country, may mean the direct opposite in another.

The psychology of color is very complex and takes time to understand. With the basics under your belt, in Part Two, you’ll learn the different sections of the color wheel with respect to primary, secondary and tertiary colors and how they work in the different color models.

Are you stuck with selecting the right colors for a project? Let’s chat.

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