Colour impacts our lives in so many ways. Even though it surrounds us physically and psychologically every day, most people are unaware of the enormous impact is has on us, our choices and decisions. Colour has a powerful subliminal effect on people so how can you use this non-verbal communication to your advantage?
It might sound a bit like hocus pocus, but experts say that no matter the audience; clients, staff or even children, picking the right colour tie or blouse can help get your message across. Politicians often choose red ties as a symbol of power, strength and passion. Purple, a colour historically associated with royalty, is a subtle show of self-confidence. So, what do other colours infer?
Red – ambition, action, power, strength, passion
Orange – optimism, adventure, warmth, motivation, enthusiasm
Yellow – knowledge, stimulation, friendly, cheerful, social
Green – growth, money, sanctuary, prosperity, safety, health
Blue – control, trust, peace, loyalty, integrity, authority
Purple – intuition, imagination, creativity, self-confident, wisdom
Pink – love, feminine, caring, sensitive, fun
Brown – friendly, down-to-earth, stability, reassurance, dependable
Grey – compromise, elegance, neutral, conformity, conservative
Black – mystery, bold, power, discipline, serious
White – perfection, innocence, cleanliness, fairness, openness
These are fairly positive connotations but there are also negative associations with colours depending on how you use or wear them. Black suits are often connected with funerals, brown ties can give off the belief that you are boring and bright colours can distract listeners. And don't forget there can be cultural differences too; in many Western cultures white is a symbol of brides and weddings whereas in Eastern cultures it can mean mourning and sadness. There is no such thing as a good or bad colour; it is just that some colours are more appropriate than others in some situations. All colours have both a positive and negative side to them.
Here is a picture that shows some of the subliminal messages a colour can have together with established brands that have chosen that colour. Do you associate any of these feelings with the brand?
Looking at the picture, what do you think your style says about you? Does your company branding (including website, stationary, office, uniforms and advertising) give the desired impression?
Colour stimulates our senses. As most decisions are made emotionally and then justified by logic we should grasp the chance to influence those subconscious emotions and give ourselves an advantage. Next time you have an important meeting, interview or presentation, consider what your clothing choice will tell people about you. Perhaps you can even help get the outcome you desire with a bit of subliminal messaging.
For further reading on colour psychology see:
Boutique Media Communications
BBC Life in Colour articles