Color Psychology: Subliminal Messaging, Courtesy of Your Local Pharmacy

pill color comic
What are your pills telling you?
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Numerous studies have recently been conducted regarding color psychology. Color can tell us a lot about who we are, how we are feeling, and the choices we make. Why do people prefer their lemonade pink? And why is that “little pill” blue? Well, it is certainly not by accident. As human beings, there is a direct correlation between our senses and color. Color psychology not only impacts our internal thought processes, it also has a great deal of influence on consumerism — especially when it comes to pharmaceuticals. All major drug corporations know that color is one of the most important ingredients in prescription medications. That is why they depend on the highest levels of color technology and spectrophotometry in order to maintain consistency and accuracy in their product.

It’s All About Color

Medicine dates all the way back to early history, and although there have been significant advancements and changes over the millenniums, the addition of color is relatively new. Only within the last century have pills veered away from a traditional chalky-white tint to the colorful assortment that lines the drug-store shelves today. But what does this have to do with color psychology? Plenty!

spoonful of cough syrup
In making children’s medication pink, many drug companies are hoping to appeal to their senses and encourage the belief that the medicine will have a sweet flavor.
Image source: Stickpen via

There are many reasons for color-coding pills, but perhaps the one that is most interesting is the influence many of these colors have on our psyche. Studies have shown that when the color of the pill is a mental match for the intended outcome, patients experience greater benefits. Many children’s medications are distinctively pinkish in color for the same reason that people choose the pink lemonade over the yellow. The human brain associates the color pink with a sweeter taste. This is also true with the color blue. Darker blue indicates a traditionally masculine color, which has been used successfully as a marketing ploy for a certain male-enhancement drug. Lighter shades of blue or green are associated with a calming feeling and will often be applied to drugs intended to have this effect. Recent polls have shown that elderly patients prefer the color red for their heart medication pills, as well as distinct color variations to make their medications easier to identify.

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Accurate Color Denotes Safety

Although color psychology is a fascinating and effective reasoning for the addition of color in medicine, color also plays a significant role in safety and drug management. Today’s drug market features over 80,000 different color combinations and there are still more additions being added to the market daily.

Consumers rely on consistent and distinctive color variations for a number of reasons. Not only does color-consistency indicate quality in a product, it is also essential for differentiating between the many choices of prescription pills on the market today. Doctors, pharmacists, and patients, as well as the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), mandate for precise color measurement and consistency in all forms of medications. The ability to consistently manufacture and maintain color-quality is essential for the pharma industry and is only possible through the use of advanced color measurement tools and spectrophotometers.

handful of multicolored pills
Color-coding helps individuals differentiate between medications.
Image source: Flickr user .v1ctor Casale.

True Color Technology

Medications come in various shapes, sizes, and forms that make it extremely difficult to measure color consistency. Colors can range from transparent to translucent to opaque, which make color differences very difficult to detect without proper technology. The appropriate instrumentation must be matched with the right sample holder in order to obtain accurate color measurements.

HunterLab offers a wide range of solutions to meet the variety of needs in pharmaceutical color management. They have worked closely with their clients for over 60 years to develop the highest level of instrumentation and support available on the market today. With a variety of options tailored to meet any product and company, no matter the size or budget, HunterLab is here to provide you with a solution to all your color measurement needs.

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