For hundreds of years, people associated specific things or feelings with specific colors. Why is this? One of the inherent reasons this takes place has to do with physiological reaction to the light frequencies absorbed and reflected by the colors.
Red – Love. Red is the lowest frequency of light in the visible color spectrum. Infrared lights emit slow wavelengths, much slower than the opposite end of the spectrum, ultra-violet light, which emits very rapid wavelengths. Red is frequently associated with love because of the association with love and hearts and heart’s blood. Because blood is red and is the life force of the body, it is easily associated with the life force of the heart, even the emotional heart. Physiologically, the light frequency of red tends to slow the reactions and reflexes of the body, which helps to facilitate actions associated with love.
Blue – Calming. Blue is frequently associated with the sky and with water, which gives it an inherently calming effect. In the 20th century, blue has been seen as an inherently masculine color and is frequently used to denote the masculine gender among babies. The calming nature and the “boyhood” nature of blue make it the favorite color of over 80% of men. Many women favor blue as well because of its soothing implications.
Orange – Eating and Talking. Orange has been the favorite color of thousands of restaurants and many home kitchens. Orange, through many trial tests, has been found to induce hunger and conversation. In fact, women who have orange around the entry way in their homes find that when callers begin to leave, they end up conversing for hours on end right beside the door. Orange is an excellent choice to have in and around the dining area of your home to aid with appetite and in keeping family mealtimes lively with chatter.
Yellow – Joy. Something about yellow makes everyone think of 18 karat gold and sunshine. Needless to say, those two things are often associated with joy. When asked to associate a color with happiness, most people pick blue or yellow, yellow winning over blue approximately four to one. Yellow is bright, happy and light and when children color light in their notebooks, they always use yellow. No wonder it is so commonly thought to show joy!
Green – Creativity. Somehow God and Creation get primarily associated with green. This could have something to do with the abundance of green among growing things, and green seems to be the default color of anything living that does not include humans or most animals. Therefore, green gets picked to represent just about anything having to do with life, the earth, the world in general, creativity, originality and uniqueness. Even relevant companies in those categories have a predominance of green among their logos.
Purple – Royalty. Purple used to be a very difficult color of dye to make and therefore was reserved for royalty and the rich classes. Now, purple can easily be worn by everyone, but the past reputation of purple has not faded at all. Purple is still worn by royalty and the rich, and it is used in fashion merchandising to denote a certain chic appeal and to class up wardrobes, especially wardrobes which are heavy in black, because purple has a slight association with power.
Black – Power. Black and power have lived side by side for decades and began their most recent duet in the business world during the early 20th century. Though black and mourning have always been brought together by death, power circles and funerals are not the only situations in which black is used in the 21st century. Black adds a slimming effect to clothing and is frequently worn by overweight women in order to look slimmer and is worn by slim women to emphasize their tiny figures.
White – Purity. Of course, the most common example of white associated with purity is the wedding dress. White is used to denote innocence and naivety in children by being the predominant dress-up color for little girl dresses, used in the fanciest and the frilliest of Easter, Sunday and Christmas outfits. White lace, particularly white lace handkerchiefs, was used by women in the 18th and 19th centuries as an inconspicuous allusion to virginity.
There are many reasons why we associate certain colors with certain attitudes or emotions. The advertising and marketing industries have developed and perfected this study, as the wrong color combination or color association can severely affect the customer dependence upon, or even trust in, a business. What are some associations that you can think of?