Is there truth in the psychology of colour or is it simply down to personal taste?

colouring pencils

Image source: Wikipedia

How we use any of these colours in our lives can be very personal. From the way we dress, decorate our homes or even prepare food; we each may have different preferences to colour combinations. What pleases one person’s eyes can be a total turn off for another!

The Logo Company have put together an infographic on the emotions colours convey and aligned these with famous brands and the design of their logos. They say:

  • yellow = optimism
  • orange = friendly
  • red = excitement
  • purple = creative
  • blue = trust
  • green = peaceful

Color Emotion Guide

Image source:

Colour Calculator 

How does this then translate into the design of blogs or the creation of visuals as banners for social sites and profiles? Do you consider the combinations of the colours you use?

Session College offer a free interactive Colour Calculator to help you select the optimum colour combinations for any design project. You begin by choosing your first base colour  and then a colour harmony. The colour harmonies to select from are:

  • Complementary
  • Monchromatic
  • Analogous
  • Split Complimentary
  • Triadic
  • Tetradic

The colour calculator then displays the results! The site also provides a mini report of the hex, RGB, and CMYK colour values.

Colour Calculator

Harmony = Complementary

 Colour Calculator

 Harmony = Analogous

Colour Scheme

Colour Psychology

I found the work of the Logo Company and the ‘science of colour’ in relation to choosing colours for logos and other branding design intriguing. Further reading opens up the area relating to colour psychology and colour therapy. O’Connor (2009) states that:

“The term colour psychology, often used interchangeably with ‘‘the psychological effects of color’’ as suggested by Van Wagner, tends to refer to a range of affective, cognitive, and behavioral responses and associations linked to specific colours.”

O’Connor goes on in her paper to issue a ‘caveat emptor’ (Latin for buyer beware) with regard to this work. However whilst the following list from the Logo Company does not come with any direct signposts to cite the theory behind their colour and emotion associations it would seem enough has been written about the topic  to make it worth considering how colours make you feel personally. Are there certain colour schemes that would detract you from engaging with a website? See what you make of these:


Qualities: definite, credible, strength, powerful, precise, professional, direct, accuracy

Best for: construction, corporate, oil, financial, fashion, manufacturing, cosmetics, mining, marketing, tradesmen


Qualities: hungry, exciting, urgent, dangerous, sexy, evocative, romantic, design, warm, fast

Best for: food, clothing, fashion, apparel cosmetics, sports, real estate, entertainment, health care, caring, emergency services, hospitality, marketing, public relations, advertising


Qualities: natural, organic, youth, nurturing, instructional, education, adventurous, ecological, calming, nature

Best for: medicine, science, government, recruitment, ecological-business, tourism, human resources


Qualities: credibility, calming, clean, focused, medical, professional, judicial, power, business like

Best for: medical, scientific, utilities, government, health care, high-tech, recruitment, tradesmen, legal, information technology, dental, corporate


Qualities: creative, dynamic, energetic, youthfulness, expressive, child-like, fruitful, innocence, enthusiasm

Best for: recruitment, food and drink, entertainment, education, sports, human resources, childcare


Qualities: energy, drive, dynamic, encouraging, design, ideas, youth, invention, bright, positive

Best for: childcare, food and drink, entertainment, new technology, automotive, signs and banners, ecommerce


Qualities:spiritual, mysterious, magical, arcane, religiousness, evocative, sensual, well being, occult, loving

Best for: body, mind and soul, astrology, tarot, aromatherapy, massage, yoga, arcane, healing, spiritual, occult


Qualities: earthly, nurturing, historical, safe, financial, tradition, conservative, reliable, retrospect, steady

Best for: construction, animals, mining, veterinary, finance, real estate, ecology


Qualities: clinical, clean, medical, clear, purity, spacious, simple, easy, fresh

Best for: medical, science, high-tech, dental

Source: The Logo Company



Logo Company, Logo Design Color, Business Types & Qualities – The Science Behind Colors

Session College Colour Calculator

Zena O’Connor, Z. (2009) Colour Psychology and Colour Therapy: Caveat Emptor

About Sue Beckingham

A National Teaching Fellow, Educational Developer and Principal Lecturer in Computing with a research interest in the use of social media in higher education.
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2 Responses to Is there truth in the psychology of colour or is it simply down to personal taste?

  1. Anna says:

    Colours are composed of waves of light; these waves also emit vibrations. Any colour is therefore composed of different waves and each will have its very own vibration level. Colour vibrations are graded between two poles from the most relaxing to the most stimulating.

  2. Aime Parker says:

    Color is another important element that plays a crucial role in the design of a custom business logo. Although there are many colors in the palette, all of them are not suitable to represent your business. Colors get noticed first and viewers make their impression of your business through them so it is necessary to use colors that convey the message of your business in the best possible way.

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