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The psychological effect of colors

For designers, managers and the like, colors are no longer just a means of creating a beautiful setting for advertising messages and products. This is also confirmed by a new study, which says that colors increase the recognition value of a brand by up to 80 percent. Colored advertising is read 42 percent more often than black and white advertising, and in 85 percent of the cases the color tone decides whether or not to buy a product. The interrelationships make it clear that colors can have a direct impact on the success of an advertising project, as each and every one of them influences our behavior. But how does it actually come about?

The origin of our color perception

According to specialist literature and the opinion of color psychologists, our color perception is based on experience and thought structures and is shaped by instincts. According to this, we have all carried so-called "archetypes" within us for generations, that is, archetypes of human imagination that are located in the collective subconscious and unconsciously influence our behavior and consciousness. You have a say in what we think and how we feel about what we think.

An example: Most of us associate the color orange with warmth, but each person assigns a different meaning to this feeling. Some perceive warmth as positive in the sense of familiarity or zest for life, while others perceive it as negative and perhaps associate it with superficiality. How one classifies such a feeling, in turn, depends on personal experience. In summary, the psychological effect of colors describes which unconscious reactions or memories a color evokes in us as a result of an individual experience.

Accordingly, when choosing colors for designs, it is not only interesting to think about corporate design specifications and color harmonies, but also about which properties you want to convey. What does your brand, your company, your products or services stand for? How would you like to be perceived? As soon as your final design is available, you should adhere to it for a consistent and consistent brand management on all advertising material (e.g. flyers, business cards, exhibition walls, brochures, catalogs, etc.). To make it easier to choose the right color, we have created a so-called color symbol list in which each color is assigned its psychological effect - based on Germany and parts of Europe.

The psychological meaning of color is one aspect that can affect the success of your next advertising project. Of course, other factors also play a role in the design, such as B. the overall design, the target group or the chosen advertising material play a decisive role.


The meaning of the colors


We perceive yellow as light, luminous and relaxed. It stands for cheerfulness, warmth and optimism but also for envy, egoism and avarice.



Orange looks optically warm, light and close. Psychologically, we associate the color with trust, zest for life and vitality, but also superficiality and courage.



Red is optically very close, active, warning and concise. It stands for power, love, passion and fire but also for danger, anger, destruction and anger. By the way: In China, red stands for luck.



Magenta has a visually unifying effect. Psychologically, we associate it with femininity, magic, dignity and splendor, but also arrogance, egocentrism, domination and intrigue.



Violet looks rather dark and cool. It stands for passion, mysticism but also for vanity, frustration and restlessness.



Dark blue looks cool or bright, depending on the color. Psychologically, we associate calm and reason with the color tone, but also longing, melancholy and coolness.



Cyan is light, brilliant, and lovely. It stands for clarity, freshness, openness and awareness but also for distance and emptiness.



Green is calm and natural. Psychologically, we associate happiness, hope, life, nature, contentment and regeneration with the color, but also immaturity and poison.



Black is gloomy, dense and massive. It stands for independence but also for grief, depression and worry.



White is bright, brilliant and dazzling. Psychologically, we associate innocence, purity, order and knowledge with the color, but also emptiness and flight. Good to know: In Japan, white stands for grief.



Depending on the color, gray appears light or dark, indefinite and lacking in character. It stands for objectivity and sobriety but also for monotony, transience and boredom.



By the way: The favorite color of 40 percent of Germans is blue, according to a recent survey by the Allensbach Institute for Demoscopy. 19 percent said red was their favorite color, 18 percent preferred green.


Color psychology differentiates the meaning of colors on different levels. In addition to the psychological effect of colors, there are the symbolic, cultural, political and traditional effects of colors. Depending on when and where you want to publish your design, you should take a closer look at the individual aspects.