Well, color me [insert emotional trigger here]

It’s time to talk about color, or, for our audience across the pond, colour.? Color: the derivation of those primary pigments red, yellow, and blue and made visible due to the light receptors in our ocular apparatus discerning the reflection and refraction of the color spectrum’s various visible wavelengths.? But more simply — color is emotion.? Color is emotion as an adjective, “Daphne, why so blue?”? Color is emotion as metaphor, “Stuart, green with envy often?”? Color is an emotional trigger: “The stark white doctor’s office.”? Why then, I posit, is color so often taken for granted?

The Institute of Color Research has uncovered that within 90 seconds all humans make a subconscious judgement about a person, environment, or item — and from 62% to 90% of that subconscious assessment is based on color alone.? That’s a small window to make your case.? And for the burgeoning brand, that’s a judgement that is not only going to be made quickly, but will solidify without even a conscious awareness.

So, first and foremost, color is your ally.? Color is what will be noticed first, assessed quickest, and remain longest.? Among Smashing Magazine‘s 7 Ingredients of Good Corporate Design, color stands in the number 3 spot.? About color, they say that when designing the visual identity of a brand the colors should emphasize the philosophy and strategy of the [brand].? Most definitely.? But even further, colors should trigger an emotional reaction within the viewer, no matter if that reaction be subconscious or outright.

Not convinced that color has that much impact on the human psyche?? Or just unconvinced that that impact is not quite as universal as everyone may think?? Follow me.? Take a look at Cymbolism.

From Cymbolism’s website:

Colors are believed to have very specific meanings, but these meanings vary over time, place and culture. For years designers have been using colors to communicate feeling and mood, to trigger memories to make us act a certain way.

Cymbolism is an attempt to quantify the association between colors and words [and emotions].

With Cymbolism, colors are synthesized into their word equivalent by a community of online voters.? Just match color that is immediately triggered by the word provided.? Then, the voter is provided with a continuum of other voted colors that others felt were representative of the word.? Also, after voting, click on a color to see the most associated words and emotions for that color.? Not only interesting, but another front to attack when creating the visual representation of any brand.

Perhaps with the use of color theory and recognizing how and why color impacts humans all, your brand will be known solely by its color like a certain delivery power-house. “What can brown do for you?” And how about Alltel? They’ve successfully stripped their competitors down to their primary color palettes.

Ask yourself, what are your colors saying about you?? Probably a lot more than you’ve every consciously realized.

Now, let’s correspond: What are you all trying to convey with your color choices?? Which colors impact you most?? Let us know!

3 comments for “Well, color me [insert emotional trigger here]

  1. October 8, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    How blind(no pun intended) as a people would we be if we rejected the power of color? We would be forced to see everything as black or white, and simply put without emotion. Color is the 6th sense that is forgotten when vision is given all the credit. Because of this, the power of color is so much more defined. It is not by chance that sunsets on the beach make some cry. Color is the most dimensional factor in our visual world. Walk down Las Vegas BLVD. or Times Square, New York and the COLOR is what will be remembered. Like scent, it is not the obvious traits that make memories, it is the new, the sexy, and the powerful attributes which without color would not be possible.

  2. October 8, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Quite true, Nick.

    But there is also something to be said about the power of black & white! It’s timeless, it’s powerful, it’s classic, it’s bold. So don’t count the lack of color or the full saturation of color out when in speaking of emotion! They’ve proved their worth in that respect.

    But, personally, give me color any day.

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