The psychology of color is interesting. The physical aspects of color are interesting. The contradictions and challenges you find related to colors are interesting. Are you feeling blue?
In my job as Product Marketing Manager at Barco, where our focus is high end projectors and their use across various industries and installations – ranging from a single projector to multiple in advanced visualization systems, I frequently speak of color and the science of color.
The science of color includes the perception of color by the human eye and brain, the origin of color in materials and perhaps most important, the physics of electromagnetic radiation in the visible range – what we commonly refer to simply as light.
“Color” is “Color”, right?
The word “Color” brings different meanings to different people; age, education, gender and interests. Designers will probably give the different colors psychological or emotional meanings, while optical engineers at my work place most likely – hopefully – relate color to properties of light sources (lamps, lasers, LED) and other optical components used inside our projectors.
The article “Psychology of Color in Logo Design” from The Logo Company visualizes the “Color Emotion Guide” and the color blue use the emotions “Trust”, “Dependable” and “Strength”. It is very common to apply a certain value (emotion) to a color, but it might not always hit home.
The meaning of Blue
A few years back I created a small presentation on color, where I wrote the following about blue:
Blue: comfort, trust, unity, loyalty, security, stable, serenity, peace, confidence.
Blue is non-threatening, confident and stable. It is the calmest color with a proven effect to influence audiences in a soothing manner. An example is the many police uniforms that are blue – because the color conveys confidence and security, while at the same time it is being non-threatening.
Cold or warm
If you were asked if blue represents something warm or cold, I believe most of the responses would be cold. We link and relate it to ice, snowy and cold environments – as well as lots of refreshing stunts from the chewing gum advertisement business.
While the color red is something we perceive as warm and cozy. We link and relate it to love, warmth and hearts – illusion yourself in a room which glows of red; the fireplace burns, red wine in the glass, your beloved in the sofa next to you… Whoa! That’s hot!
Around the world
In addition to the different meanings to a word or color inside a country or culture, there are also differences between countries and cultures. In Mexico, blue is used for mourning. In other countries the bride should were “something blue” on her wedding day for good luck. In the Aztec culture, blue represented sacrifices.
“I’m feeling blue.” That expression is not really covered by anything I’ve written above, right? If you’re feeling blue, you might be sad, depressed or just having a bad day. Tom Wait’s phrase it so well:
“Well I hope that I don’t fall in love with you
‘Cause falling in love just makes me blue”
If you want more of the blue, depressive stuff from the world of music, you can always listen to my Spotify playlist Sound of (Indie) Love and Lost Love, which contains loads of songs about lost love, isolation, depression and heartache!