Color Meanings and Communication

Every day you are surrounded by colors — they may inspire, motivate or remind you of something else you experienced. Because color plays such an important role in how most people experience the world, it also looms large in the human psyche. Different colors affect mood in significant ways. As a result, you can use specific colors to communicate ideas and even influence behavior.

How Colors Affect Your Mood

People associate different colors with various emotions and concepts. Color meaning and psychology are closely linked, with certain colors shown to impact mood. Exposure to specific wavelengths of light can even produce physiological responses, impacting heart rate and alertness.

Ideas about a color’s meaning in life vary from person to person. However, themes crop up around specific colors. When you understand what a color means, you can use it to create a desired atmosphere or encourage specific responses in an audience. In Western countries, colors on the visible light spectrum are typically associated with the following ideas and emotions:

  • Red: Energy, passion, determination
  • Orange: Ambition, youthfulness, extroversion
  • Yellow: Optimism, happiness, excitement
  • Green: Growth, peace, nature
  • Blue: Relaxation, trust, loyalty
  • Purple: Prosperity, imagination, focus
  • Grey: Strength, stability, longevity
  • Brown: Comfort, reliability, seriousness
  • White: Purity, cleanliness, harmony
  • Black: Power, sophistication, mystery

Factors That Impact Your Perception of Color

Not everyone interprets color the same way. For some people, the color red might feel passionate and exciting, while others might see it as aggressive or frightening. Varying opinions about the different meanings of colors can quickly lead to miscommunication, both when using colors to communicate ideas and emotive words to describe colors.

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To communicate effectively using color, it’s important to consider all the factors that influence a person’s perception of a hue. These factors can include:

  • Culture. People from different cultures have distinct ideas about color meanings and symbolism. In Western cultures, white may be associated with purity and simplicity, while in East Asia, white serves as a color of mourning.
  • Color value. People may perceive a color as more or less powerful depending on its value, or darkness. A lighter shade will feel less powerful than a darker hue.
  • Color saturation. People may decide a color feels more or less exciting depending on its saturation, or the amount of grey it contains. Colors with higher saturation look bold and energetic, while colors with lower saturation appear soft and gentle.

Communicating About Color Effectively

Color has the power to support nonverbal communication. As a result, brands and organizations across industries use color to evoke emotional responses and communicate their values. However, communicating through and about color comes with complications.

Texture and viewing angle can affect how the human eye perceives an object’s pigmentation, so reproducing a color reliably can prove challenging even with a prototype or reference image. Spectrophotometry helps solve this problem by providing an objective way to measure color. Color measurement scales quantify attributes of a color, simplifying communication between team members.

At HunterLab, we provide spectrophotometry instrumentation to help you make the most of color’s effect on communication. Learn more by filling out our online contact form today.

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