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How to chose the correct colors?

The power of colors and how to influence your audience



  • What do colors mean for your viewers?

  • How can you control your customers with the correct color choice?

  • What are the feelings evoked by certain colors?




By implying that there is a right color choice, I also imply indirectly that there is a bad color choice.

You have to realize though, that there are no bad or wrong color choices, only right color choices for the right projects. Some colors will work miracles in some projects, whereas other colors will not.

Good tips to keep in mind:

  • Black type on white paper is both practical and legible.
  • Your cost savings from printing in two colors can sometimes outweigh any benefits from printing in many colors.
  • Colors are seldom psychologically additive. Don’t try to
  • When in doubt, use blue. It’s a favorite color and it’s easy to use in design.
  • Some colors are hard to work with, such as orange, brown, and pink. They often don’t print the way you want them and tints can be tricky.
  • Orange is a great color to grab attention. It goes in and out of popularity, but in general it’s underused. So it lets you stand out more easily.
  • Red is a power color for headlines, subheads, phone numbers, and other hot spots.
  • Red is better for call to action buttons: purchase, login or join. Much more powerful than blue or green.


What do colors mean for your viewers?

To better visualize what the different colors mean, you can see the adjectives related to the different colors:


Excitement, energy, passion, desire, speed, strength, power, heat, love, aggression, danger, fire, blood, war, violence, aggression, all things intense and passionate.

Joy, happiness, optimism, idealism, imagination, hope, sunshine, summer, gold, philosophy, dishonesty, cowardice, betrayal, jealousy, covetousness, deceit, illness, hazard.

Peace, tranquility, calm, stability, harmony, unity, trust, truth, confidence, conservatism, security, cleanliness, order, loyalty, sky, water, cold, technology, depression, appetite suppressant.

Energy, balance, warmth, enthusiasm, vibrant, expansive, flamboyant, demanding of attention.

Nature, environment, healthy, good luck, renewal, youth, vigor, spring, generosity, fertility, jealousy, inexperience, envy, misfortune.

Royalty, spirituality, nobility, spirituality, ceremony, mysterious, transformation, wisdom, enlightenment, cruelty, arrogance, mourning.

Security, reliability, intelligence, staid, modesty, dignity, maturity, solid, conservative, practical, old age, sadness, boring.

Earth, hearth, home, outdoors, reliability, comfort, endurance, stability, simplicity, and comfort.

Reverence, purity, simplicity, cleanliness, peace, humility, precision, innocence, youth, birth, winter, snow, good, sterility, marriage (Western cultures), death (Eastern cultures), cold, clinical, sterile.

Power, sexuality, sophistication, formality, elegance, wealth, mystery, fear, evil, anonymity, unhappiness, depth, style, evil, sadness, remorse, anger, underground, good technical color, mourning, death (Western cultures).



The various meanings of colors in different countries

There are various cultures who understand the need of colors in their own special manner. Lets see how:

China – symbol of celebration and luck, used in many cultural ceremonies that range from funerals to weddings.
India – color of purity (used in wedding outfits).
United States – Christmas color when combined with green, Valentines Day when combined with pink, indicates stop (danger) at traffic lights.
Eastern cultures – signifies joy when combined with white.


Asia – sacred, imperial.
Western cultures – joy, happiness.


China – associated with immortality.
Colombia – associated with soap.
Hindus – the color of Krishna.
Jews – holiness.
Middle East – protective color.
* Note: Blue is often considered to be the safest global color.


Ireland – religious significance (Protestant).
United States – inexpensive goods, Halloween (with black).


China – studies indicate this is not a good color choice for packaging, green hats mean a man’s wife is cheating on him.
France – studies indicate this is not a good color choice for packaging.
India – the color of Islam.
Ireland – religious significance (Catholic).
Some tropical countries – associated with danger
United States – indicates go (safe) at traffic lights, environmental awareness, St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas color (red and green).


Western cultures – royalty.


Colombia – discourages sales.


Eastern cultures – mourning, death.
Japan – white carnations signify death.
United States – purity (used in weddings).


Western cultures – mourning, death.


Hindu – sacred color. (orangish peach color)


How can you control your customers with the correct color choice?


The power of color in direct marketing


control the choice?


Color is one of the most powerful elements of design for direct mail, ads, and other marketing materials.


The reason why color is so powerful in marketing and artworks, is because it is a way of communicating with the viewer without speach. It is nonverbal communication.

Research has shown that color increases brand identity, assists in memory, increases a reader’s participation in ads, and improves readership, learning, and comprehension.


Color carries meaning through association.

This meaning can be divided into two parts: natural associations and psychological or cultural associations.

By “natural association” I mean that colors bring to mind certain ideas that everyone understands. For example, green is associated with nature because that’s the primary color of plants everywhere in the world. Blue is associated with the sky. Yellow is associated with the sun. These associations are simple and universal.

Psychological or cultural associations are more tricky. In the U.S., orange is associated with Halloween because pumpkins are a big part of that holiday. But since many other cultures don’t celebrate this particular holiday, that association doesn’t exist. Likewise, while black is associated with death in the West, white is often the death color in other cultures.

There is a “vocabulary of color.”

vocabulary of colors different meanings of color

Colors are not as clear cut as words, but there is a loose meaning for most colors. What follows is a quick definition of some common colors for those who live in a Western culture.

Every color has it's own different power



Even though color is very important in designing and in Art,  the most important rule is that the text has to be legible.

Copy is more important than color, and the whole point of design is to make sure people can read it.


Links to Color related resources:

Thank you for reading my post about the power of colors