Digital class 2. Color psychology

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Color psychology


Hello! Welcome to the second session of Selected Design Topics II. In this session we will approach psychology of color from two perspectives. We have selected eleven colors, which we will analyze from color symbolism and emotional reactions.

From the first point of view, we will see that each color has connotations with the culture and society in which they are used. Therefore, depending on the country people live in and even the social class they belong to, have different reactions to the same color. An example of this is red, which in the West is related to danger and festivals, while in the East it is associated with good luck and wealth. This will allow us to understand that when selecting a color, we must not only consider color theory reviewed in the previous session, but also the cultural connotations of the viewers.

Regarding emotional reactions, we will recognize the ability of colors to stimulate those who perceive them. We will see that this has led us to describe them using adjectives, for example, we usually refer to blue as a cold color. In addition, we will explore the power that colors can have on our bodies. For Instance, blue Is recommended to be used in the text contained in instructions, because it can help the reader relax while receiving technical information.

We wish you every success in this second session. Let us get started.

Content developement

A selection of eleven colors shown below will allow us to approach color psychology from the perspective of color symbolism and the emotional reactions they generate. While we analyze these colors, we will return to terms seen previously, such as hue.

2.1. RED

Red is associated with danger, blood, anger, and fruit. It is a color that is full of energy (Ambrose, 2015). It is exciting, passionate, and seductive. It has been proven that when observers face red, their bodies release adrenaline, which speeds up their breathing and pulse, and increases their blood pressure.

The connotation of red, like any other color, changes according to its hue. When red approaches to pink, it becomes more youthful, and when It moves toward wine color it evokes refinement and authority.

Red is a very striking color. Therefore, it has been used to direct the gaze of the observer; however, this is also a disadvantage because it tires the eyes. For this reason, its use is not recommended for texts on a white background. In fact, there are places where this type of text is considered rude.

2.2. PINK

Pink is a fun, romantic, and feminine color (Ambrose, 2015). This latest association has made it a fundamental color for the cosmetic industry. A pink hue with more red content is more youthful, while a hue with more white content becomes more delicate.


This color, which is born from the combination of red and yellow, brings together the passion of the former and the joy of the latter, making it the warmest color of all (Ambrose, 2015). It evokes summer, health, and the fruit that Is called with that same name.

It is associated with the holidays and is considered a favorite of children. In addition, orange stimulates the appetite, which is why its use has spread in food packaging, indicating that its content has a very pleasant taste.


It is the most cheerful color (Ambrose, 2015). It evokes the brightness of the sun and the heat. It is also considered the most versatile color because it can be associated with many different moods, depending on its hue. A bright yellow, for example, is related, as we said, with joy. Instead, we associate a greenish yellow with disease.

The same hue of yellow can have both positive and negative connotations. For example, a pale yellow evokes citrus, but it also indicates cowardice.

When yellow is close to other colors it can also have other connotations. From nature we have copied combinations of colors such as yellow and black that we find, for example, in bees, which allows us to warn about something.

2.5. BROWN

Brown is a neutral, simple, solid, and reliable color (Ambrose, 2015). It evokes organic materials such as wood or hue. Among its positive connotations are kindness, home security, outdoor life, and freshly baked bread. Its negative connotations include dirt and dust.

2.6. BLUE

We do not know much about the sea and the sky (Ambrose, 2015). They are both blue, so this color evokes mystery. Due to its association with water, it has the connotations of being fresh and a source of life. In addition, it is a relaxing color.

Darker hues of blue are conservative and suggest stability and security, which is why they are often used by certain companies, like banks. On the other hand, the paler hues of blue are related to serenity and youth.

2.7. GREEN

Green is related to nature and environment (Ambrose, 2015). It reminds us of green fields, spring, life, and new beginnings. Green is often used in food packaging to convey the idea that it is an environmentally friendly or to indicate that the product being sold is fresh. In addition, green is associated with Islam, which is why it appears on the flags of countries such as Saudi Arabia.

Among the negative connotations of green are jealousy and inexperience. Now you know, if you do not want to convey the idea that you are inexperienced in a job interview, do not wear green. And who has not heard the expression «go green with envy»?


Purple mixes the warmth of red and the freshness of blue (Ambrose, 2015). It is the color of royalty and spirituality. Among its positive connotations is wisdom. Among its negative connotations we can mention presumption and cruelty.

It relates to people who seek spiritual fulfillment. Furthermore, it is believed to aid in the development of creativity.

2.9. WHITE

The white color conveys the idea of goodness, purity, simplicity, and cleanliness in the West, so it is related to the divine, weddings and hospitals (Ambrose, 2015). But it is associated with mourning and death in the East.

White is a neutral color, and like the other colors it has several hues, each with a different connotation. A bluish white, for example, is perceived as a cool color, while an orangey white is perceived as warmer.

The color white also relates to empty space. The excess of white is used to denote exclusivity or to help the viewer’s gaze to move easily between the various elements found in that space.

2.10. BLACK

Black is the absence of color. It is associated with mourning and death in the West (Ambrose, 2015). It is also serious, elegant, sophisticated, and sexy. It conveys the idea of exclusivity and opulence, which is why it has been used to promote luxury items.

Black is also related to gravity. Black objects are considered heavy. An example of this are black cars, which are perceived as safer vehicles by users. In contrast, airplanes are rarely painted black because they appear to be too heavy to fly.


Neutral colors are understated and timeless (Ambrose, 2015). Brown In any saturation or value Is considered neutral, as well as black, white and any kind of grey. They are frequently used to reduce aggressiveness to other colors because they are gentle and do not reject the viewer. However, if their use is excessive, they can prevent what you want to highlight from standing out, avoiding communication from being achieved effectively.

In the following commercial, the Italian car brand Lamborghini takes advantage of the association of red with something dangerous, exciting, and seductive.

In the next commercial, the French brand Christian Dior, uses pink in its connotation of femininity and delicacy in its Miss Dior Chérie perfume campaign.

In the following video we can appreciate the use of orange by the American brand of drinks Tropicana to refer to their products as something delicious.

Notice the use of yellow and its association with playfulness in the following French’s commercial.

Watch the following Nescafé commercial, in which brown is associated with the trust that this brand wants us to have in its products.

Find an example of the use of blue to convey the idea of stability in the following BBVA commercial.

Consider the use of green to convey the idea of nature, life and new beginnings in the following Coca Cola commercial.

Explore how the Swiss chocolate brand Milka has used purple to reinforce the analogy between the interior of people and the interior of its products, in the following video.

Too much white space can communicate the idea of exclusivity, as we can see in the following Apple commercial.

We can find an example of the use of gray to soften other colors and highlight certain elements in the following Gray Goose commercial.

Color psychology

What do the commercials that we have examined have in common?

Had you noticed the use of colors in commercials before taking this course?

Personally, do the colors that were used in the commercials have the connotation that was explained In the class? 

Is It possible to use one color to convey different meanings?


Now that we have finished studying some of the most important notions in color psychology, let us review the content of this session.

We understood that the selection of colors does not depend only on justifying the relationship between colors through the color wheel, but also on color psychology, according to which, each color has different connotations, depending on the culture in which it is used. 

We learned that red conveys the idea of ​​danger, among many other ideas, and that it can make people secrete adrenaline when we perceive it in our environment. Pink is a color that denotes femininity, which is why it has been widely used in the cosmetics industry. We saw that orange is a festive color and that it stimulates the appetite. Yellow is a cheerful and very versatile color because, according to its hue, it can be associated with different moods, both positive and negative. Brown has also positive connotations like home safety, and negative like dust. Blue is the color of mystery, and it is associated, in its darkest hues, with stability. Green is the color of nature, although it can also imply envy. Purple is the color of spirituality, but in its negative connotation it is related to presumption. White is the color of purity or cleanliness, so in the West it is linked to weddings or hospitals, while in the East it is the color of mourning. Black is associated with death in the West, but it is also a sophisticated color. Finally, neutral colors (white, black, brown and grey) are discreet and commonly used to soften aggressive colors.

It Is Important to know how colors are able to convey meaning, to be aware of the Intentions of the person who Is using them, but also, to be able to communicate effectively though using color in our own work.

Congratulations on completing this second session of Selected Design Topics II! Keep going! If you are interested in learning or perfecting representation techniques to communicate graphically, you will love the next session because we will learn how to use colored pencils and markers. Do not miss it!

Information sources

Ambrose, H. (2015). Color. Barcelona: Parramon.