The Psychology of Color | How Color Affects Your Work Day

Why is the sky blue? Why is the ocean blue? Why is grass green?

Why did this post start out like it was written by a curious four-year old? We won’t bore you with answers to the above questions (it’s science), but we’ll ask you another one: Why is Facebook blue? Well, according the to the New Yorker, it’s simply because Mark Zuckerberg is red-green colorblind, and blue is the color that pops for him.

What about you? Marketers and advertisers have tried forever to unlock the mysteries of colors and how they might impact consumers purchasing trends. Colors have always played key roles in business and brand logos. A visit to Times Square in New York City, or a stroll down Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles will inundate you with bursting colors of nearly every shade.The September persona here at Innovative Office Solutions is the Creative, so we’re going to take a look at how different colors affect us in our creative endeavors at the work place. The color emotion guide is a pretty good place to start.

All colors can be used boldly, or with nuance, to create a certain look or feel, or to conjure emotions in people. The psychology of color has fascinated us for ages and will continue to do so. There are four psychological primary colors– red, blue, yellow and green.

Knowing how these four colors relate to the body, mind and emotions and the essential balance between those three can help you with your use of color at work.

Yellow evokes optimism, clarity and warmth. It’s the color of the sun. Traditionally, brands that aim to put a smile on your face use yellow: McDonald’s arches, Best Buy in their label, Nikon in theirs.

Yellow is another long wavelength and it is essentially stimulating. It evokes emotion. It’s positive connotations are optimism, confidence, self-esteem and emotional strength. It’s negatives are irrationality, fear and anxiety.Orange conveys confidence. It’s friendly and cheerful. It stands out in a crowd and demands to be the center of attention. Hooters, Home Depot and Orange Crush have bold and friendly connotations.

Red is all about excitement, raising the energy level and also being bold. It’s the color of love and blood and it brings a sense of urgency. Target, Coca-Cola and Dairy Queen all use red to be both welcoming and to spark that sense of urgency to buy.

Red has the longest wavelength of any color, which makes it powerful. It connotes the physical: courage, strength, basic survival, “fight or flight”, excitement. The negatives for red are that it can be deemed too aggressive, too visually impactful, and can connote a strain. Purple is a color that spurs creativity and imagination. (There’s a reason it’s Prince’s favorite color!) Yahoo, Hallmark and the Syfy Channel are all companies that want you to know that something out of the ordinary is possible.

Blue is calming, trustworthy and dependable. IBM, Oral-B and American Express are all companies that want to ensure consumers that they’re reliable and trustworthy.

Blue is the color of the mind and is essentially soothing. It connotes intelligence, trust, calm and efficiency. The negative vibes from blue can be coldness, a lack of emotion or an aloofness.Green is all about health and growth. It’s serene and peaceful (think of a freshly cut lawn). John Deere, Animal Planet and the Girl Scouts are all about healthy growth and they utilize green to that end.

Green hits the eye with no adjustment necessary, and is, therefore, a restful color. Green evokes balance, harmony, restoration and peace. It’s negative vibes can be boredom, stagnation or blandness.

Black and white aren’t officially colors, but obviously they’re both all around us. Black has many uses, it can look professional and credible, but can also be edgy. Nike and Under Armour both use black to be all of those traits. White is clean and pure and is used by nearly everyone in some capacity.

There are seven other basic colors that all have permeations of the four basic ones: purple, orange, pink, grey, black, white and brown. Now what these colors evoke and stimulate in us is all very nuanced. Obviously wearing a blue shirt to work isn’t going to make you more intelligent and wearing red shoes isn’t going to make you more exciting on a given day (well, actually, it might).

Paint brushThe point is that the colors you surround yourself with can certainly impact your creative mind. Like certain smells or sounds can jog things in your mind, so too can colors. The best course of action at work is probably to change out the colors you surround yourself with every so often. Subtle variations in color in your immediate work space can do wonders for your mood and demeanor. Nobody likes the same thing day after day after day, so don’t be afraid to change things up color-wise at work.

Variety is the spice of life and never let it be said that your surroundings don’t matter. Add a splash of color now and then– your creative mind will thank you!