Color psychology is a fascinating thing. Imagine, for a moment, what the world would have been like for our prehistoric ancestors. Eyesight is one of the most important senses for humans. Back in the day, it allowed us to hunt over very long distances and use tools with precision. It’s no surprise, then, to learn that colors have an important effect on how we see the world. We would avoid poisonous frogs with their vivid oranges, reds, and blacks. We would relax by cool blue streams and ponds. Color influences our decisions.
Let’s snap back to the present day. Color continues to influence the way we perceive the world. When you use colors in your logo, on your products, or to paint the interior and/or exterior of your business, they influence public perception of your business. To best leverage this influence, it’s important to have a fully developed brand and mission.
Look Toward Big Players
Are you in the food industry? Look at how the biggest fast food companies use color. There, reds and yellows abound - in their logos and in their interior design. For the most part, their walls will be neutrals - greys and blacks. These are juxtaposed by bright yellow or red accent walls or bright yellow and red furniture. The reason? Reds and yellows stimulate appetite and yellow is also cheery, which can put patrons in a good mood. Upscale dining establishments might avoid these colors, however; they can seem a bit childish or distracting, and fine dining is all about ambiance.
Conversely, if you’re in the financial industry, you’ll see a lot of cool, calming colors - blues and greens are common. Again, here, most of the walls won’t be blue and green - they’ll be neutrals. Accent walls, Colored lighting, and colored furniture are commonly used.
Whatever your industry is, you should look at what the most successful players are doing. You can then emulate them or try to subvert trends - do this very carefully. We’ll address color psychology and novelty in a later section. Neutrals are almost always the way to go, though we’ll take a look at how color can motivate certain decisions next.
Guided by Color
Imagine you’re in a space where all the walls are neutral except for one bright red one. Where is your attention going to be pulled? The answer is obvious - to the red wall. You can paint walls strategically in your place of business in order to attract attention where you want it.
For example, if you have a welcome area or a customer service desk, make sure to accent the wall behind the desk. You can even incorporate your company’s logo in that area. By doing this, you reinforce your branding every time your customer has an interaction with company reps. As long as your reps are doing a good job, you’re creating positive reinforcement. Make sure the accent wall is one of the colors that can be found in your logo.
You can get creative with how you use color to segment areas of your business. You might, for example, use a black accent wall behind higher priced products, or a yellow wall behind family-friendly products. Consider color coding your floor as well - you can create paths that customers or clients can walk down.
Think about using particular colors to take your customer’s eyes away from certain elements, too. Have a section of your business you don’t want customers going into? Use dull greys to make it inconspicuous, and place Do Not Enter signage on doors in the area.
How you use colors as a design feature can have a real impact on how clients see your business. When everything is meticulously laid-out, down to the colors on the floor and the accent wall, they’ll intuitively feel your business is well-organized and thoroughly planned. Remember, great design is mostly invisible, but bad design is always obvious.
A good rule of thumb when painting your business is to have 60% painted in a primary color, 30% in a secondary color, and 10% for accents. This isn’t a hard and fast rule - the color of your furnishings may sway these numbers one way or another, and there’s no reason you can’t paint with more (or fewer) colors. 60-30-10 is a useful guideline because when a color is overused, it can be visually overwhelming and confusing. The same thing occurs when there are too many competing Colors.
Have a new and exciting product you want to show off? Consider using an accent wall with an unusual color - coral, aquamarine, a pastel, and other attention-grabbing Colors and shades. When things are out of the ordinary, they naturally draw the eye. This response may be the vestige of a defense mechanism because unusual things could be dangerous. These types of colors attract novelty and thrill-seekers, and they can be a great way to stimulate experimental product or service purchases from a certain segment of your client base.
Keep Culture in Mind
You may have noticed there’s been no “list of what colors mean” presented. While color psychology may have some roots in evolution, it has been, undoubtedly, shaped by culture. For some cultures, red can mean good fortune, while in others, it can mean ill omens. In the same vein, yellow may be associated with royalty, but it may also be associated with cowardice. Understanding your client demographics may be important when deciding how to paint your business, especially if you have multiple locations. Consistency is an important element in branding, so try to pick a color you can use in every location.