The Meaning Of Colors

“Colors add meaning to life”. Whether you believe in this or not, I bet you’ll agree that the world is best seen all around than black and white. What you wear today may reflect how you feel. Your mood can be seen when you wear light or dark. Your choices often reflect your emotional, mental and spiritual state at that specific moment. Some people will agree that the color choices we make reflect a deeper meaning about our personality traits. In short, there’s really a psychology in colors.

Similarly, our businesses reflect a dynamic of our belief system. It often tells people what we enjoy doing, what we are passionate about, what we care most. Our businesses oftentimes is also a reflection of our personalities. That is why when there is meaning/symbolism, we also have to associate them with the way we see and feel them. And with that, colors play an important role in our businesses.

Color Wheel

Wikipedia defines a color wheel or colour circle as an abstract illustrative organization of color hues around a circle, which shows the relationships between primary colors, secondary colors, tertiary colors etc.

If a designer knows the principles behind the wheel, she can use it as a handy reference for how color combinations work. As you use a color wheel, you’ll be able to clearly understand the following:

  • COLOR RELATIONSHIPS
  • COLOR TEMPERATURE
  • COLOR HARMONY AND DISSONANCE
Primary Colors
  • RED
  • YELLOW
  • BLUE

These three colors can be combined to make other hues but not the other way around.

Secondary Colors
  • GREEN
  • ORANGE
  • PURPLE

Result of combining any of the primary colors.

Tertiary Colors

Tertiary colors are formed by mixing primary and secondary colors, resulting in the two-word names.

 

Colors

The Color Wheel mostly used as guide for combinations.

The more you understand how the colors work together, the easier it would be for you to associate it with meaning or symbolism. Context, culture and time are certainly important factors to consider when thinking about color symbolism. Remember, Depending on the culture or society, colors may symbolize diffferent things for different people.

Let’s take a look at the primary and secondary colors and possible meanings of each color. (You can also view it here.)

RED

Cultural Color Symbolism & Meanings of Red

China & India: good luck, used in dresses, chair, parasol, cup lace, firecrackers in a wedding
Russia & China: revolution, communism
Mayas: South
England: buses, phone booths
Spain: bull fighting, flamenco dresses

Typical Meanings & Symbolisms of the Color Red:

  • alertness
  • ambition
  • aggression
  • battle
  • beauty
  • brilliance
  • charity
  • charm
  • circulation
  • communism
  • compassion
  • courage
  • danger
  • desire
  • determination
  • devotion
  • domination
  • eccentricity
  • emotion
  • energy
  • eroticism
  • excitement
  • extroversion
  • fashion
  • fervor
  • fire
  • friendship
  • hate
  • heat
  • high voltage
  • intensity
  • life
  • love
  • luck
  • lust
  • madness
  • martyrdom
  • motion
  • movement
  • murder
  • pain
  • passion
  • patriotism
  • power
  • prohibition
  • prostitution
  • rage
  • rebellion
  • rescue
  • revolution
  • romanticism
  • sacrifice
  • sensuality
  • sexuality
  • sin
  • speed
  • strength
  • suffering
  • success
  • tension (political, social)
  • thrill
  • triumph
  • urgency
  • victory
  • violence
  • vitality
  • war
  • warmth
ORANGE

Cultural Color Symbolism & Meanings of Orang

Buddhism: humility, renunciation, desirelessness
China & Japan: love, happiness, plenitude
Other: treason, Halloween

Typical Meanings & Symbolisms of the Color Orange:

  • action
  • ambition
  • appetite
  • assurance
  • celebration
  • change
  • charisma
  • communication
  • competence
  • coziness
  • creativity
  • determination
  • disorder
  • domination
  • dryness
  • earth
  • emotion
  • encouragement
  • endurance
  • energy
  • enthusiasm
  • exaggeration
  • excitement
  • expansion
  • explosion
  • extravagance
  • extroversion
  • exuberance
  • fascination
  • fitness
  • flavor
  • flexibility
  • friendship
  • fun
  • generosity
  • happiness
  • health
  • heat
  • humanism
  • humor
  • independence
  • invitation
  • joy
  • laughter
  • motivation
  • practicality
  • radiation
  • security
  • service
  • society
  • smile
  • success
  • sunset
  • temptation
  • tropic
  • visibility
  • warmth
  • warning
  • wisdom
YELLOW

Cultural Color Symbolism & Meanings of Yellow

Egypt: happiness, prosperity
China: Imperial color to worship, the sky
Futbol: yellow card, warning
Other: truth

Typical Meanings & Symbolisms of the Color Yellow:

  • activity
  • aspiration
  • alertness
  • brightness
  • caution
  • communication
  • confidence
  • energy
  • expansion
  • expression
  • extroversion
  • fear
  • forgiveness
  • friendship
  • gaiety
  • happiness
  • idealism
  • ideas
  • imagination
  • intelligence
  • innovation
  • inspiration
  • intuition
  • joy
  • knowledge
  • laughter
  • logic
  • light
  • optimism
  • order
  • philosophy
  • playfulness
  • power
  • satisfaction
  • signal
  • spontaneity
  • stimulation
  • summer
  • sunshine
  • thought
  • uncertainty
  • warmth
  • warning
  • wisdom
  • youth
GREEN

Cultural Color Symbolism & Meanings of Green

Islam: Allah in nature
Northern Europe: The Green Man

Typical Meanings & Symbolisms of the Color Green:

  • adventure
  • aspiration
  • calmness
  • cleanliness
  • comfort
  • efficiency
  • environment
  • equilibrium
  • faith
  • fertility
  • foliage
  • frankness
  • freedom
  • freshness
  • friendship
  • generosity
  • good luck
  • grass
  • growth
  • harmony
  • health
  • hope
  • laziness
  • life
  • open air
  • outdoors
  • moist
  • mucous
  • nature
  • neutrality
  • progress
  • prosperity
  • quietness
  • relaxation
  • renewal
  • reproduction
  • safety
  • security
  • sincerity
  • spring
  • sympathy
  • vegetation
  • vigor
  • wisdom
  • youth
BLUE

Cultural Color Symbolism & Meanings of Blue

Catholicism: Virgin Mary, God Father
Islam: Mosque decorations
UN Flag: peace, cooperation
India: mercy
Jewish: Holiness

Typical Meanings & Symbolisms of the Color Blue:

  • acceptance
  • authority
  • balance
  • calmness
  • care
  • caution
  • cleanliness
  • coolness
  • cooperation
  • compassion
  • confidence
  • contemplation
  • culture
  • depression
  • despair
  • depth
  • dignity
  • faith
  • flexibility
  • frankness
  • freedom
  • freshness
  • goodness
  • harmony
  • honesty
  • hope
  • ice
  • infinity
  • intelligence
  • introspection
  • isolation
  • law
  • logic
  • loyalty
  • maturity
  • obedience
  • order
  • peace
  • piety
  • power
  • protection
  • quality
  • quietness
  • reflection
  • reliability
  • responsibility
  • sadness
  • security
  • self control
  • serenity
  • sincerity
  • solitude
  • stability
  • stiffness
  • technology
  • tenderness
  • tradition
  • tranquility
  • transparency
  • trust
  • truth
  • unity
  • value
  • virtue
  • water
PURPLE

Cultural Color Symbolism & Meanings of Purple

Ancient Cultures: wealth
Catholicism: contrition, penitence, color of Lent

Typical Meanings & Symbolisms of the Color Purple:

  • ambition
  • aristrocracy
  • art
  • anxiety
  • beauty
  • balance
  • compassion
  • conflict
  • contrition
  • coolness
  • creativity
  • drama
  • dream
  • dignity
  • enchantment
  • enigma
  • extravagance
  • fantasy
  • fashion
  • femininity
  • grief
  • homosexuality
  • independence
  • individualism
  • inspiration
  • intelligence
  • introspection
  • intuition
  • justice
  • knowledge
  • leadership
  • luxury
  • magic
  • majesty
  • meditation
  • mood
  • mystery
  • mysticism
  • nobility
  • nostalgia
  • passiveness
  • penitence
  • preciousness
  • pride
  • quietness
  • reflection
  • religious devotion
  • responsibility
  • richness
  • royalty
  • sadness
  • secrecy
  • sensuality
  • seriousness
  • shadows
  • sobriety
  • solemnity
  • solitude
  • sophistication
  • sorrow
  • spirituality
  • splendor
  • style
  • sublimation
  • suffering
  • superstition
  • truth
  • value
  • wealth
  • wisdom
  • wit
  • vanity

Now, going back to your business, how do colors represent your brand? Do they give meaning to your mission and vision? Did you use the colors to define your passion? Your objective?

Remember, even in the simple use of colors in your logos, website, and ads, people who see them should be able to identify your brand.

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