What’s in a colour?
Colour is an essential for everyday life whether it is for graphic design/website design or not. Colour makes life more practical with each colour giving a specific mood or feeling (good or bad). But what are the real meanings of each colour? What do different colours mean?
Below is an image of a 12 Hue Colour wheel and we will discuss what a colour wheel is and how to understand it.
12 Hue Colour Wheel
The most common colour wheel is the 12 hue colour wheel , and each segment is called “Hue” “Tint” “Tone” and “Shade.”
Within a colour wheel there are primary colours and then secondary colours. What this means is primary colours are colours that cannot be made by mixing colours together, whereas secondary colours are colours made by mixing the primary colours together.
So what does each colour actually mean? Below we will look at some colours and explain what each colour means and what famous companies/brands use these colours.
Yellow shines with optimism, enlightenment and happiness. Shades of golden yellow carry promise of a positive future. Yellow will advance from surrounding colours and instil optimism and energy, as well as spark creative flair.
The effects of yellow
- Stimulates the mental process
- Stimulates the nervous system
- Activates memory
The facts of yellow
- During the 10th century the French would paint the doors of traitors and criminals yellow.
- Yellow signifies “Sadness” in Greece and “Jealousy” in France
- Yellow is physiologically the happiest colour
- 75% of pencils made in the USA are painted Yellow.
Famous companies/brands who use yellow
- National Geographic
Green occupies more space in the spectrum visible to the human eye than most colours, and is second only to blue as a favourite colour. Green is a pervasive colour in the natural world making it an ideal backdrop in interior design because we are so used to seeing it everywhere.
The effects of green
- Relaxes, both mentally and physically
- Helps with depression, nervousness and anxiety
- Offers a sense of self control and harmony
The facts of green
- The National flag of Libya is the only flag that is one colour
- Green was the favourite colour of George Washington
- Green is the colour of night-vision goggles because the human eye is most sensitive to and able to discern most shades of green
- NASCAR are averse to the colour green as the first accident to kill was involving a green car.
Famous companies/brands who use green
- Land Rover
Blue is seen as a trustworthy, dependable and committed. The colour of the ocean and sky, blue is perceived as a constant in our lives. As the collective colour of the spirit, it invokes rest and can cause the body to produce chemicals that are calming.
The effects of blue
- Aids Intuition
The facts of blue
- Blue is the least “gender specific” colour, having equal appeal to both men and women
- Blue is the favoured colour for toothbrushes
- Owls are the only bird who can see the colour blue
- People are more productive when in blue rooms
- Mosquitos are attracted to the colour blue.
Famous companies/brands who use blue
- Oral B
Purple embodies the balance of reds simulation and blues calm. With a sense of mystical and royal qualities, purple is a colour often well-liked by very creative or eccentric types and is the favourite colour of adolescent girls.
The effects of purple
- Calms the mind and nerves
- Offers a sense of Spirituality
- Encourages creativity
The facts of purple
- Purple was the colour of the Caesars
- Purple was the first colour dye made
Famous companies/brands who use purple
- Sci Fy
- Taco Bell
Brighter pinks are youthful, fun and exciting, while vibrant pinks have the same energy as red: they are sensual and passionate without being too aggressive. Toning down the passion of red with the purity of white results in the softer pinks that are associated with romance and the blush of a young woman’s cheeks
The effects of pink
- Bright Pinks, like the colour red stimulate energy and can increase blood pressure
- Pink has been used in prison cells to reduce the erratic behaviour on inmates
The facts of pink
- In 1947 the fashion designer “Elsa Schiaparelli” introduced the colour “Hot Pink” to western fashion
- Pink encourages friendliness while discouraging aggression and ill-will
- Studies show that male weightlifters loose strength when looking at pink, whereas women weightlifters gain strength when looking at pink
- Pink makes you think of or crave sugar/sweets
Famous companies/brands who use pink
- T Mobile
- Cancer Research UK
- La Senza
Red has more personal association than any other colour. Recognised as a stimulant, red is inherently exciting and the amount of red is directly related to the level of energy perceived. Red draws attention and a keen use of red as an accent can immediately focus on a particulate element
The effects of red
- Increases Enthusiasm
- Stimulates energy and can increase blood pressure
- Encourages action and confidence
The facts of red
- Red is the highest arc of the rainbow
- The longest wavelength on light is red
- Red is the first colour you lose in an eclipse
- Feng Shui recommends you paint your door red to invite prosperity
- Bees can’t see the colour red
Famous companies/brands who use red
- Coca Cola
Orange, a close relative of red, sparks more controversy than any other hue. There is usually a strong positive or negative association to orange and a true orange generally elicits a stronger “love it” or “hate it” response than any other colour. Fun, flamboyant orange is warm.
The effects of orange
- Stimulates activity
- Stimulates appetite
- Encourages socialization
The facts of orange
- Orange is the colour that means “high” in the colour-coded threat system established by presidential order in 2002
- Orange is the colour of the US Signals Army Unit
- Orange also mean ‘safety’
Famous companies/brands who use orange
These bottom 3 most people associate as a colour when in fact “white, grey and black” are actually a shade and are not a hue.
White projects purity, cleanliness and neutrality. Doctors use white coats, brides traditionally wear white gowns and a white picket fence surrounds a safe and happy home.
The effects of white
- Aids mental clarity
- Encourages us to clean up or remove clutter
- Purification of thoughts
- Enables a fresh beginning
The facts of white
- The white flag is a universal symbol of truce
- According to Pantone Inc. white is the most popular colour for T Shirts
- More shades of white are available commercially than any other colour
- White clothing becomes translucent when wet
- White in a dream means happiness, while a white castle represents achievement
Famous companies/brands who use white
- The White Company
- Nike (tick)
- Cartoon Network
Grey is the colour of intellect, knowledge and wisdom. It is perceived as a long lasting classic, often as sleek or refined. It is a colour that is dignified, conservative and carries authority. Grey is a perfect neutral, which is why designers often use is as a background colour.
The effects of grey
- Creates expectations
The facts of grey
- The New York Times is sometimes called “The Grey Lady”
- Grey represents non-involvement
- Grey is associated with intellect and the brain is composed of “Grey Matter”
- Grey is reprehensive of pessimism
- The human eye can associate with over 500 shades of grey
Famous companies/brands who use grey
Black is authoritative and powerful: because black can evoke strong emotions, too much can be overwhelming. Black represents a lack of colour, the primordial void, emptiness. It is a classic colour of clothing, possibly because it makes the wearer appear thinner and more sophisticated.
The effects of black
- Makes one feel inconspicuous
- Provides emptiness
- Is mysterious – by invoking potential and possibility
The facts of black
- The black taxi is a famous world Icon
- Black implies weight, a black box will look heavier than a white one
- The colour black is associated with power and sophistication – tuxedo, limousines, judges and priests
Famous companies/brands who use black
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