10 color meanings: the psychology of using different colors | Webflow Blog (2022)

Biologist Timothy H. Goldsmith explained that, “color is not actually a property of light or of objects that reflect light. It is a sensation that arises within the brain.”

And those sensations can be incredibly powerful. Colors can change our mood, impact our memory, and even increase or decrease our heart rate.

Wearing red can tip the scales in your favor if you’re an athlete facing a well-matched competitor. Blue light therapy is frequently used to reduce the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder. And one study even found that suicide rates decreased by an astounding 74% at train stations in Japan when blue lights were installed.

We don’t just see colors, we feel them — which makes them one of the most powerful tools in a designer’s toolkit. When you familiarize yourself with colors and their meanings, you can lean into color psychology to create designs that elicit the reactions and feelings you want.

Whether you’re choosing colors for a logo design or simply color-coding a spreadsheet, it’s important to choose colors that are aligned with your message and not ones that could work against you.

Color in history

Dating back to early civilizations, color symbolism is a powerful force that’s been reinforced over millennia. Red has served as a symbol of evil since at least 4,000 B.C. Red was commonly used as an accent color in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs to denote danger or evil — and it remains a primary team color of the New Jersey Devils — an NHL hockey team — today.

There’s evidence to suggest that color meanings are deeply connected to survival instincts, and not just in humans. Research led by neuroscientist Jerald D. Kralik found that some monkeys share our caution around the color red. And a separate study found that elephants can identify potential predators using a combination of color cues and scent.

Given the mighty powers colors possess, it’s no surprise that all sorts of industries leverage color to influence potential customers. Food purveyors, for example, have been using color to make their products look more appealing to shoppers since at least the time of the Romans. According to an article published in Food Safety Magazine, “wine was artificially colored beginning in at least 300 BC.”

The varied meanings of color

For designers, marketers, and other professionals looking to harness the power of color, it’s important to first consider what each color means to different people depending on past experiences that have impacted their life.

Here are some important factors that influence color interpretations:

  • Geography: Colors carry different significance in different countries or regions. In America, the color predominantly associated with mourning or grief is black. But in China white is more commonly associated with mourning and often worn at funerals by family of the deceased.
  • Current events: Pop culture and current events can have a strong impact on the way we relate to different colors.The 2000 presidential election in America, for instance, cemented political associations for Democrats as “blue” and Republicans as “red.”
  • Religious affiliation: Depending on which religion you practice, you may interpret purple as a symbol of suffering, royalty, or intuition, among other things.
  • Societal groups: Rainbow colors, for example, are often used as a symbol of inclusion and support for the LGBTQ community.
  • Team affiliation: Many people feel an affinity to the color combinations associated with their alma mater or their favorite sports team. And they can have a distaste for the colors of their team’s greatest rival.
  • Generation: Members of the same generation tend to feel nostalgia for similar color palettes.

So, before you commit to brand colors, do your own market research. If your ideal customer persona is mostly Gen Xers who live in Asia, you’ll likely want to prioritize different colors than if your primary audience are seniors in the US.

10 color meanings every designer should know

There are several ways to think about color as a designer. The color wheel is great for pairing colors or understanding primary colors vs. secondary colors. But when we’re thinking about the individual meaning of colors, it can be helpful to use the “Roy G. Biv” lineup.

10 color meanings: the psychology of using different colors | Webflow Blog (1)

When colors are arranged in this order, the meanings shift as we move from left to right. Colors on the far left elicit external or physical action. For example, red might signify “halt!” or “buy now before it’s too late!” Meanwhile, colors on the far right elicit introspection. For instance, purple holds meanings tied to spiritual endeavors and enlightenment.

Let’s take a look at some common meanings of each color.

Red color meanings

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The color red is commonly associated with:

  • Danger
  • Passion
  • Ferocity
  • Urgency
  • Love
  • Power
  • Vigor
  • Anger

Red has been a symbol of danger and power perhaps since humans first encountered fire. And that’s how I tend to think about the color red when it comes to design — like a flame. Red is great for illuminating or calling attention to things. We can also use it as a symbol of heat, love, or passion. It’s also useful for creating a sense of urgency.

Orange color meanings

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Common meanings of the color orange include:

  • Vitality
  • Happiness
  • Vibrance
  • Optimism
  • Energy
  • Caution

In nature, lots of healthy foods have an orange hue. So, it’s no surprise humans have come to associate orange with health, vitality, and energy. As another warm tone, orange holds meanings quite similar to red, but with less intensity. I like to think of red as a torch and orange as a candle.

Just think about the differences in meaning of the color red vs. orange when driving. Red means stop, whether it’s a traffic light or a stop sign. Orange, on the other hand, often means “proceed with caution” or “avoid this area.”

Yellow color meanings

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(Video) Color Psychology | Red, Blue, Yellow, Green, Pink, White, Black, Gray & Gold

The color yellow is commonly associated with:

  • Joy
  • Positivity
  • Sunshine
  • Caution
  • Illness

As the last of the warm colors in the Roy G. Biv color lineup, yellow also shares some overlap in meaning with both orange and red. Yellow also signifies warmth. But if red is a torch and orange is a candle — yellow is the radiating heat from the sun. It’s immensely powerful, but less immediately threatening.

In nature, yellow can be found in a myriad of flower petals and foliage. So, it can be a great color to use for eco-friendly brands or beauty products.

However, yellow can also be a sign of warning and have negative connotations. Wasps, several types of venomous snakes, and some poison dart frogs all have partially yellow coloring. Yellow can also be a sign of illness in humans (yellow mucus is a sign of the body fighting off infection) and biohazard signs are typically bright yellow.

Green color meanings

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Common meanings of green include:

  • Growth
  • Wealth
  • Envy
  • Balance
  • Fertility

Green shades have strong correlations to growth and prosperity. In nature, green is the color of a lush forest or meadow. Green is one of my personal favorite colors because it is such a strong symbol of balance. Because green is the divider between the cool and warm tones on the Roy G. Biv color lineup, we get warmer yellow-greens and cooler blue-greens. So, you have quite a bit of flexibility in how you use green as a designer.

But like other colors, different shades of green can have very different meanings. Many people associate olive green, for example, with the military because of its prevalence in military uniforms throughout history. Teal, on the other hand, which is a blue-green, is a popular color for beach inspired designs due to its association with the ocean and water. And depending on the situation, the color green can be a strong symbol of either bad or good luck.

Blue color meanings

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The color blue is commonly associated with:

  • Tranquility
  • Integrity
  • Serenity
  • Reflection
  • Wisdom
  • Dependability

In many regions, blue colors symbolize water (though this is not the case in China, where black is more commonly a symbol of water) and light blue is often associated with the sky. These correlations to nature have helped solidify blue as representative of calm and serenity — just picture a peaceful sky blue backdrop on an afternoon of cloud gazing or the aquamarine hue of a stream as it trickles down cascading river rocks.

The color blue can also be a strong symbol of reflection, since water — whether it’s in the form of a peaceful lake or a puddle after a rain shower — acts as a mirror.

(Video) Meaning of Colors in Marketing 9 Colors & Meanings #colorpsychology #colors

Dark blues in particular have long standing meanings tied to trust, stability, and loyalty. While there’s some debate over the origin of this meaning, historical documents tie the term “true blue” back to medieval England, where blue clothes dyed in Coventry were known for their “true” or steadfast colors that wouldn’t run or fade. Regardless of where or when this meaning originated, it holds steady today, which is why many healthcare, legal, and financial institutions include blue as one of their brand colors.

Indigo and violet color meanings

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Purple hues are commonly associated with:

  • Intuition
  • Royalty
  • Spirituality
  • Passion
  • Redemption
  • Wisdom
  • Creativity
  • Magic

In many religions, there is a spiritual meaning of purple colors. Indigo and violet hues have meanings tied to important times in a person’s spiritual journey, which makes these colors great for adding a little mystery or mysticism to a design. Yoga practitioners are likely to perceive violet as a symbol of enlightenment, as it is the color of the crown chakra. Catholic priests wear purple during advent and lent — leading up to the birth and resurrection of Jesus. And in Hinduism, purple can be a symbol of unity with God.

The color purple is also a strong symbol of royalty in many countries thanks to the fact that purple dyes used to be particularly expensive and difficult to produce. For a long time only the wealthy elite could afford purple clothes. Some rulers, such as Queen Elizabeth I, even made it illegal for commoners to don purple hues.

Pink color meanings

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Pink can signify:

  • Romance
  • Playfulness
  • Cheerfulness
  • Youthfulness
  • Caring
  • Tenderness

The existence of the color pink outside of human perception has been the subject of much debate, as you’ll notice it’s not actually on the Roy G. Biv color lineup at all. And this uniqueness is reflected in pink’s color psychology.

Pink is a combination of red and violet — the two far opposite ends of the Roy G. Biv spectrum — and its meanings are influenced by those opposing extremes. Pink can signify love and sympathy as well as spontaneity and calmness.

Pink and magenta hues are often associated with tenderness and empathy, which isn’t surprising given that these colors can be a sign of soreness or pain in the body that might need to be treated with care — think of a scrape, sunburn, or pink eye. In recent years, pink has also become an international symbol of breast cancer awareness, particularly when worn or displayed in the form of a pink ribbon.

Black and white color meanings

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(Video) How to Choose the Right Colour for Your Brand | Basic Marketing Colour Psychology

Similar to pink, there are many people who argue that the “color black” and the “color white” do not actually exist. You’ll notice that black and white also do not appear on the Roy G. Biv color spectrum. This is because black and white are not light wavelengths. Rather, black is complete darkness, or the absence of light, and white is a combination of all visible color wavelengths. But this doesn’t mean that black and while don’t hold powerful meanings.

Common black color meanings include:

  • Strength
  • Sophistication
  • The unknown
  • Grief
  • Solidarity
  • Darkness

And white is often a symbol of:

  • Clarity
  • Hope
  • Simplicity
  • Calm
  • Emptiness
  • Light

In ancient Chinese philosophy yin and yang are depicted using black and white. Yin and yang are symbols of opposing energies or elements that balance each other out, such as warmth and cold or masculinity and femininity. This concept of balance carries through today and is very useful when it comes to design, but remember that the interpretation of which color is good or bad may vary.

Earlier in this article we covered how some cultures have stronger associations with mourning and the color black, while others associate mourning with white. We can also see very different interpretations of the meanings of these colors when it comes to black cats. Depending on the person, crossing paths with a black cat could be a sign of bad luck or good luck.

In recent history, black and white have become iconic hues in the world of fashion. Many regions and cultures have come to associate black with sophistication and elegance so much so that the terminology we use in English to describe fancy attire includes the word black — think of a “black tie” affair or the “little black dress” — and white is the first color many brides think of when they picture their wedding dress.

Inclusive and accessible color combinations

While you’re getting creative mixing and matching color schemes, don’t forget to make sure your design is inclusive and accessible.

Approximately 4.5% of the world population has a form of color vision impairment. So, it’s important to make sure the color pairings you’re using don’t diminish visibility for those with colorblindness. Luckily, many design platforms include tools or features that make it easy to assess the inclusivity and accessibility of your designs.

You can use Webflow’s vision preview mode to see what your Webflow website looks like to those with colorblindness. Designers can use Figma’s Color Blind plug-in. And Colorblindly enables you to simulate different types of colorblindness while browsing the internet and developing assets.

Harness the power of color

Next time you’re designing a project — don’t just pick a random color. Think about what you want to convey and how you want to come off to your target audience, and find the color that corresponds with that.

Feel inspired? Get started on a Webflow project today.

(Video) Marketing Color Psychology: What Do Colors Mean and How Do They Affect Consumers?


What is the strongest color psychologically? ›

  • In color psychology, red provokes the strongest emotions of any color. ...
  • Studies show that being exposed to or wearing red can cause some of the following physical effects:2
  • Across cultures, people intuitively associate red with the concept of anger.
13 Sept 2020

What Colours represent psychology? ›

Color Psychology as Therapy
  • Red is used to stimulate the body and mind and to increase circulation.
  • Yellow is thought to stimulate the nerves and purify the body.
  • Orange is used to heal the lungs and to increase energy levels.
  • Blue is believed to soothe illnesses and treat pain.
28 May 2020

What do each color symbolizes? ›

Red: Passion, Love, Anger. Orange: Energy, Happiness, Vitality. Yellow: Happiness, Hope, Deceit. Green: New Beginnings, Abundance, Nature.

What color is most eyecatching? ›

Red and orange seem to be the clear winner when it comes to eye-catching colors. These colors tend to stand out and are therefore used on many warning signs or safety equipment. Yellow is another color that comes in a close second to red and orange in popularity.

What color do geniuses like? ›

Green is the color of ingenuity and learning. “Geniuses pick green,” said Robert DeNiro in Meet The Parents. Scientists have found that a room painted green can actually improve a child's learning speed and retention.

What colors make happy? ›

Happy colors are bright, warm colors like yellow, orange, pink and red. Pastel colors like peach, light pink or lilac can also have an uplifting effect on your mood. The brighter and lighter a color, the more happy and optimistic it will make you feel.

What color causes anxiety? ›

High A-Trait students were significantly more anxious while viewing blue, red, and green than were the low A-Trait students and blue produced significantly more state anxiety than did either yellow or green.

What color represents positive energy? ›

Pink brings strong positive energy into your environment. Mood-lifting yellow is another colour that belongs to the fire element.

What color is used for depression? ›

When it comes to depression colors, gray and blue tend to be high on the list of those associated with low mood. In a 2010 study using the Manchester Color Wheel, experts found gray was the color people pointed to when asked to reflect feelings of depression.

What color means healing? ›

Green is the color of healing; it is beneficial in all healing situations. In the aura green signifies balance, peace and often indicates ability as a healer.

What do the 4 personality colors mean? ›

The Color Code is based on four types of personality, identified by color: Red, (motivated by power); Blue, (motivated by intimacy); White, (motivated by peace); and Yellow, (motivated by fun).

What Colour means love? ›

Pink symbolizes love and romance, caring, tenderness, acceptance and calm.

What is the legendary color? ›

Legendary is a soft, gray, millennial beige with a silvery undertone. It is a perfect paint color for a living room or exterior home.

What is the color of royalty? ›

Purple's association as the colour of royalty and wealth dates way back to ancient realms. Cyrus the Great – founder and king of the first Persian Empire – wore a purple tunic as his royal uniform.

What color makes trust? ›

Blue is heavily associated with trust, which may be why many financial institutions often choose it.

What color makes you smarter? ›

Drumroll, please… the answer is black! Out of 1,000 people surveyed, both men and women, it was discovered that people who wear black are viewed as more intelligent. The results ran from “serious” to “playful” colors starting with black, followed by blue, white, green, purple, brown, red, yellow, orange and pink.

Which Colour represents loyalty? ›

BLUE. Blue symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth and heaven.

What is the color of intelligence? ›

Blue: Blue is the color of trust, confidence, and intelligence. Blue encourages intellectual activity, reasoning and logical thinking, and acquires lessons faster. That is the color of intellect.

What Colour is best for memory? ›

Studies have shown that colours such as orange, red and yellow are more attention-grabbing compared with colours such as grey or brown. This means that information written or highlighted in these colours have a higher chance of being remembered.

What color causes stress? ›

The key findings? Red increases stress, while green and white decrease stress. Whoa.

What color reduces stress? ›

Blue – A highly peaceful color, blue can be especially helpful for stress management because it can encourage a powerful sense of calm. Purple – In many cultures, shades of violet represent strength, wisdom and peace. Purple can invoke a tranquil feeling that helps reduce stress.

What is the most peaceful color? ›

New research claims that dark blue is the world's most relaxing colour. Research carried out by the University of Sussex and paper company G.F Smith, draws on a survey of 26,596 people, from more than 100 countries.

What color means confidence? ›

The color red is often used to send messages of confidence to the public. In color psychology, red elicits the greatest feelings of any color.

What color means angry? ›

The color red was most associated with anger, green with disgust, black with fear, yellow with happiness, blue with sadness, and bright with surprise. These associations may be a result of various expressions containing color terms that are used in the English language—for example, “seeing red” or “feeling blue.”

What colour is good luck? ›

The three main lucky colors considered lucky in people's daily lives as well as on special occasions are red, yellow, and green.

What color means strength? ›

Red is the color of fire and blood. It is associated with excitement, energy, passion and sexuality. It can symbolize desire, power, speed and strength.

What color represents healing and love? ›

The color Pink is used in color therapy and color healing art for love, self love/acceptance, compassion and nurturing. Pink radiates the energy of unconditional love is a very powerful force for emotional healing and support.

What Colour reduces anxiety? ›

Blue can calm your mind, slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure, in turn reducing anxiety.

What is the color of kindness? ›

Psychology Behind the Color Green

Green is often associated with nature, health, healing, the environment, reliability, generosity, and practicality. It encourages generosity, kindness, and sympathy.

What color means honesty? ›

Meanings of color
ColorWestern meaning
GREEN:durability, reliability, environmental, luxurious, optimism, healing, well-being, nature, calm, relaxation, Spring, safety, honesty, optimism, harmony, freshness
10 more rows

What color represents forgiveness? ›

Blue. Blue is associated with forgiveness, harmony, astral projection, and the throat chakra.

What color is feminine energy? ›

Pink color is associated today with the feminine world, however, until 1920s, was a masculine color. Before this decade, the indicated colour for girls was white or blue.

What color means new beginnings? ›

Green Color Meaning and Symbolism

Green is a symbol of rebirth. It's the color of youth, prosperity, and progress. Green is a symbol of growth, and it's one of the most popular favorite colors–second only to blue.

What is the color for leadership? ›

Yellow is usually identified as an Inspirational leadership style who leads through relationships. They invest in their people and inspire action. Without an inspirational leader mission and purpose can feel hollow.

What is blue personality? ›

Those with Blue color personality strengths tend to be enthusiastic, sympathetic, communicative, compassionate, idealistic, sincere and imaginative. They care and want to contribute to everything they are a part of. Relationships are important to blues.

What is a green personality? ›

Those with Green color personality strengths tend to be perfectionistic, analytical, conceptual, cool, calm, inventive and logical. They seek knowledge and understanding as well as always looking for explanations and answers.

What is the color of life? ›

Red. Red has a range of symbolic meanings through many different cultures, including life, health, vigor, war, courage, anger, love and religious fervor.

What colour is sadness? ›

Sadness. “Gray” was the most frequent color indicated for sadness, followed by “indigo” and then “black” (Figure 1). The intensities for all three colors were moderate (Table 2).

What color represents jealousy? ›

In all nations, the colors of anger were black and red, fear was black, and jealousy was red.

What is the most luxurious color? ›

PURPLE. Purple has been associated with royalty in the past and is often thought of as a luxury color. Think about beauty products and anti-aging lines–more times than not, they will incorporate a shade of purple in the branding.

What is the coolest Colour? ›

The range of cool colors is varied – green to yellow and violet. The coolest of all is blue. They are more subdued in their appearance; hence they belong to this family. These shades mostly remind us of nature, water, space, and sky.

What are rare colors? ›

Did you know? These are the rarest colours in the world
  • Lapis Lazuli. Lapus Lazuli is a blue mineral so rare that in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance it was actually more valuable than gold. ...
  • Quercitron. ...
  • Cochineal. ...
  • Dragon's Blood. ...
  • Mummy Brown. ...
  • Brazilwood. ...
  • Cadmium Yellow.
26 Sept 2016

What is the color of cleanliness? ›

In Western cultures, the color white is often associated with weddings, hospitals, and angels and is often used to convey a sense of purity, cleanliness, and peacefulness.

Which is the king of colour? ›

Red is the king of colors. It is the symbol of love, energy and strength. This color is use in Evey religious and auspicious occasions.

What is the Queen's colour? ›

The Queen's colour is a double folded silk White Ensign on which a crown and Royal Cypher have been embroidered. It measures precisely 44 inches by 36 inches and has a gold and blue silk cord and gold tassels. The size and design is standard for all Queen's Colours presented to the Royal Navy.

What color means respect? ›

Red: A red flower is a favorite of youth as it represents an essence of emotions such as love and passion. It is also a symbol of courage, desire, admiration, constancy and respect.

What colour is fear? ›

Each one is colored uniquely (e.g., anger is “red”, fear is “purple”, and disgust is “green”).

What colors attract attention? ›

Red is the color of power. It gets people's attention and holds it. It is the most popular color for marketing. The color red tends to increase the heart rate and create a sense of urgency.

What is the most dominant color? ›

Primary colors, though, are the most dominant (followed by secondary, then tertiary colors) because red, blue and yellow can't be created by mixing other colors. The eye also perceives dominant colors in the foreground of images and documents.

What is the second most powerful color? ›

Blue is the most well-liked color and the second most powerful color.

What color makes you stronger? ›

A new study by psychologists says that seeing the color red leads humans to react more quickly and more forcefully.

What is the most intimidating color? ›

Black. The color black is associated with authority and power. Black causes feelings of intimidation and control.

What color represents crazy? ›

While it appears bright and cheerful at first glance, the color yellow signifies darker undercurrents. It is used to show fear and cowardice in characters, and also symbolizes insanity or an unhinged mind.

What is the power color? ›

Power colors are rich, dark tones of black, blue, green, red, and brown*. Black and navy are the best power colors for business because they have an air of authority.

What is the colour for strength? ›

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

What is the color of royalty? ›

Purple's association as the colour of royalty and wealth dates way back to ancient realms. Cyrus the Great – founder and king of the first Persian Empire – wore a purple tunic as his royal uniform.

What is the best magic color? ›

In short, blue is the best color because it provides the most options and the greatest flexibility to enable a player to come out on top no matter what the situation. With its suite of powerful spells, blue has something for every occasion – making it the clear choice for anyone looking to win.

What's the least liked color? ›

Yellow is the least favorite color, preferred by only five percent of people.

What color is best for memory? ›

RED helps learners remember facts and figures.

What color makes you smarter? ›

Blue: Intellectual

Blue is a soothing color, helping calm the mind and aid concentration. It's no wonder then that blue is a popular color to use in office spaces. It enhances wakefulness and supports clear communication.

What color is anxiety? ›

The colors we use to describe emotions may be more useful than you think, according to new research. The study found that people with or anxiety were more likely to associate their mood with the color gray, while preferred yellow.

What color is manipulative? ›

Red is perhaps the most manipulative colour, influencing everything from your behaviour in the workplace to your love life.

What colors make men happy? ›

The colors yellow and gold evoke a feeling of spontaneity, happiness, and relaxation.

What color means honesty? ›

Meanings of color
ColorWestern meaning
GREEN:durability, reliability, environmental, luxurious, optimism, healing, well-being, nature, calm, relaxation, Spring, safety, honesty, optimism, harmony, freshness
10 more rows


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