How Color Psychology Influences Your Decisions

You may know that fonts are controlling your life, but did you realize that the colors brands use affect you just as much? In an effort to make cigarette packaging less appealing to smokers, an Australian market research group conducted a study to find the color that would "maximize perceived harm" of the product. Their conclusion? What they deemed the world's ugliest color: Pantone 448 C or Opaque Couch©, a murky (and off-putting) greenish-brown.


While the Australian government may be unique in their quest to create packaging that turns away consumers instead of enticing them, they certainly aren't the first to use color psychology to influence consumers.

What Is Color Psychology?

In simple terms, color psychology is the study of how different hues effect human behavior. Colors can evoke different moods and emotions as well as inspire actions and reactions.For example, railroad crossings and hazard labels have trained us to link bright yellow with warnings and danger, while soft pastels give us warm feelings of childhood and new babies. Using this knowledge, designers and marketers can create brands, products and environments that subliminally convince you to think and feel exactly what they want you to - without having to say a single word.

Why Starbucks is Green and McDonald's is Red

Over the course of our lives, we have come to associate different colors with different meanings. Children's items have been coded pink or blue to denote whether they were meant for boys or girls (you may remember the Target gendered toy aisle controversy from earlier this year). Luxury items are often black or the tone of precious metals to demonstrate their expensive worth.Those are colors that you're likely aware of but, in reality, everything from the paint in your dentist's office to the plates at your favorite restaurant are chosen based on how their color impacts you. Hospital waiting rooms are often decorated with light green, teal and peach because those colors are calm, soothing and nurturing. Financial institutions often use blue because the color envokes trust, solidarity and credibility. Restaurants use color to convince you how long you should stay: Starbucks uses green and dark wood in their coffee shops to create a homey environment you'll want to linger in, while McDonald's uses yellow to build your appetite and red to make you anxious, hoping you will order a lot and then move along quickly to make room for the next customer.

Using color psychology to choose the right colors is an important part of creating an identity that represents the tone of your brand.