Major Emotions Associated with Colors
Once upon a time, psychologists assumed that most human emotions can be categorized into 7 distinct types. However, there has been recent research that has claimed that human beings can feel emotions that can be categorized under 27 unique, but intimately linked categories.
In this article, we will talk about 7 of the major emotions that we feel every day. These emotions also make up the range of feelings that most marketers and designers want to evoke in their audience.
It is important to mention that the way different colors affect our moods depends on the type that is being used. For example, a tint of blue has a calming effect, a tone of blue has a serious and sad connotation, and a shade of blue signifies security.
While we chart out the different emotions and see which colors have the power to affect them, you can help this journey by beginning to understand how the relation between colors and emotions help startups, small businesses, and large corporations do their branding.
The colors that make you smile or laugh fall under this category. Perhaps not the gruesome or gothic brands, but most want their audiences to feel positive when they come into contact with their branding. And what’s the most positive emotion of all? Happiness.
Colors that make us feel happy and positive are usually warm colors such as red, yellow, and orange. In different intensities, these colors can also seem passionate, exciting, and hunger-stimulating. However, talking specifically about ‘happiness’, keep the colors brighter and lighter. Peach, muted orange, lilac, and other pastel shades can also seem positive without being too ‘on the nose’.
Some color pairings you can combine to activate happy and positive emotions in your audience:
Palette 1) Red, yellow
Palette 2) Blue, yellow, orange
Palette 3) Lavender, sky blue, pale pink, light green
Palette 4) Neon green, Barbie pink, light blue,
Of course, you would think that brands always want to make their audience happy but the hard-pressed truth is that portraying sadness is just as or more powerful. This said, the design isn’t gloomy but the emotion it throws at people makes them feel sorrow and pain. Think of social justice movements, memorial posters, or remembrances of local/national tragic events.
In such instances, designers need to amplify the emotions of somberness, seriousness, and sadness. Colors that the majority of people associate with such emotions are the deepest and darkest shades of cool colors or neutral shades. Think of dark blue and green, black, grey, and white. Beige and brown are also used to represent a serious occasion. You will also see shades of yellow being used to represent tragedy and sadness.
Some color palettes that you can use to achieve sad emotions:
Palette 1) Beige, mustard, grey
Palette 2) Brown, blue, beige
Palette 3) Black, grey, matte blue, forest green
Palette 4) Tan, brown, faded green
Every once in a while, we all become Angry Birds. This is because anger is this intense emotion humans feel – it can range from mild annoyance to a full-blown passionate display of fury. The color that most suitably and consistently represents intense anger is red. The energy and bluntness of red has the tendency to charge people with this negative emotion.
Red, in its deepest shades, can also portray violence, war, and blood. It is also a color that is used to evoke feelings of fear and terror.
Interestingly, surveys have discovered that people also associate white with anger. The anger that white represents is considered the purest, most undiluted form of rage. Yellow is also sometimes associated with feelings of anger, jealousy, and irritability.
However, in the mainstream media and graphic design industry, the prevalent color that a large number of audiences readily associate with anger is red. If you want to tone it down a little, you can add a bit of yellow in it or shades of orange.
Here are some colors that you combine to initiate emotions of anger and fear, etc. through your graphics:
Palette 1) Violet, blood-red, deep red
Palette 2) Black, blood red, off white, CG red
Palette 3) Bright red and deep red
What types of designs excite you? Which colors make jump off your sofa?
In the design and corporate world, colors are used to make people feel excited and interested in a new product, a new service, a new venture, or a new concept. Next to happy and joyous colors, it is the exciting colors that take the lead in branding and marketing.
The colors and shades that put people into an excited and energetic state of emotion are brighter and chirpier shades. Shades such as bright red, a vivid yellow, lighter almost neon green, and magenta, etc. make us feel energized and excited to experience something great. Royal blue, bright orange and emerald green shades are also used to convey emotions of interest, excitement, and high energy.
Some color combinations that scream excitement:
Palette 1) Fluorescent blue, steel pink, sunny yellow, muted orange
Palette 2) Blue, orange, lime, cherry tomato, red
Palette 3) Yellow, pink, island green, etc.
hing and calming colors as its official color palette, you can grab the attention of passersby by using a solidly pigmented color that’s bright and appealing.
However, some colors stand out in the crowd. And therefore, designers most often go to them when they want to make people stop in their tracks. Warm colors in bright shades like red, yellow, orange, magenta, and neon shades are popular as attention-grabbing colors.
But use them in moderation so as not to overwhelm the whole design. You can also use them as accent or secondary colors to make your design pop. A logo with nothing but red can surely get your attention, but a stroke of red in the sea of grey will make you notice it more and perhaps even help you remember it better.
Some color combinations that will always grab your attention:
Palette 1) Purple, green, turquoise, white
Palette 2) Yellow, blue, red
Palette 3) Dark green, yellow, pink
Palette 4) Neon pink, yellow, purple, green
Seen the fun colors of Legos? They instantly catch attention and the next thing you know, you are paying for a box. Primary colors can make us think of fun times or put us in the mood to expect something exciting. These include red, yellow, blue, and their variations.
One of the major reasons these colors look fun to us is because as children we can detect these colors long before we can see other shades. That is why you will see a lot of marketing and branding directed at children using primary colors.
In addition to the three primary colors, some other colors are also used to evoke emotions of fun and happy times. Orange, bright green, pink, and purple are used to recall fun times, happy occasions, and to instill feelings of energy, openness, and freshness.
Some fun color combos that you should definitely try:
Palette 1) Orange, blue, white, green
Palette 2) Yellow, blue, green
Palette 3) Purple, yellow, pink
Palette 4) Orange, red, pink
After a hard day at work, what you need is to relax. Relaxing colors put us in a calm and soothing state of emotions. They help us feel stress-free and refreshed.
Most often, the cool side of the color wheel is employed to represent feelings of calm and relaxation in product packaging, marketing, and logo design. These colors include blue, green, purple, and their different combinations. Peach, soft green, white, beige, and other pastel shades are also popular colors to evoke soothing and calming emotions.
Depending on the specific shade you are using, your calming color can range from soothing to depressive. Therefore, it is critical to get your color choice right the first time and zero-in on shades of cool colors that make us feel positive, light, and fresh. Industries that make the most use of calming and soothing emotions are health and beauty, yoga and meditation, and spa and resorts, etc.
Some relaxing colors you can introduce in your branding:
Palette 1) Peach, white, faded green
Palette 2) Ivory, pale pink, tea green, peach
Palette 3) Powder blue, white, pale pink, melon
Palette 4) Lavender, light cyan, white, diamond blue
Colors Are Intricately Linked With Emotions
While color associations with emotions are largely subjective, there’s no denying the fact that colors have a decisive impact on how we feel and respond to stimuli in the environment.
As researchers continue to study this intricate link more and more, we’ll be able to have more exact and precise information regarding how this connection ebbs and flows.
For now, we can use these individual and subjective associations to get people talking about our designs and brands. If different people are getting different emotions from the colors on your website and logo, that’s your brand starting a conversation. And branding is all about getting people to talk about you more.
If you are a designer creating a brand identity for a business and are not sure how to navigate these subjective connections of colors to emotions, know that as long as you are not wading in too deep and banking on the universal similarities of these connections, you are good to go. For more insights and feedback, you can always invest in focus groups, customer personas, and beta testing.
So, now that you know that different colors and different shades have the power to influence our emotions and behavior, do you feel ready to infuse this knowledge into your next design project?