Pigments of Your Imagination

Pigments of Your Imagination

Today's post is brought to you by our graphic designer, Kate Allen. You can see more of Kate's work here!

Close your eyes. (Actually wait no, keep them open to read, but imaging the following with closed-eye precision.) It’s reasonably late at night. You’re out and about with your favorite group of friends.  You had dinner, sure, but there’s a deep craving for a salty snack. Some fries maybe? Yeah. Fries. That sounds good. Now imagine this part carefully, your favorite guilty pleasure fast food place with fries -- think about the logo. There’s a good chance that red is one of the predominant colors. 

Is this a global food industry conspiracy, an unfortunate lack of creativity, or are these logo designers using our brains’ emotional responses to color to their advantage? Maybe all three, but you can be sure that those in charge of marketing for these major brands have carefully considered how you’ll respond to the colors they choose.

Even though colorimetrists have been studying color and it’s effects on the brain since the middle ages, color science isn’t fully understood. Color researchers at Wellesley college studied the brain’s response to color and found that the brain responds uniquely to certain hues.

Advertisers and designers are wise to capitalize on these subconscious reactions to color, as logo colors play an important role in the consumer's response to the brand.


A few stars in the color hall of fame: 

RED: Excitement, attention, stimulation, strength

Red is the overachiever in the color family. We already know he’s powerful color, but red can even increase your heart rate, make your work more precise, increase your appetite, and awaken the side of you that should probably seek out some anger management materials. Red grabs your attention. So it’s no surprise that the food industry loves the color red. You didn’t think you were hungry, but you saw that red neon sign out of the corner of your eye, and now it feels like combo meal time. (We’re not talking about you, Taco Bell. You’re the beautiful exception.) 

Blue: Trust, intelligence, confidence, reliability, tranquility

Obviously the Ravenclaw in the family. Blue is widely used by hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, governments, and technology companies. 

Yellow: Cheerfulness, warmth, fun, youthfulness

Red’s less serious, but still attention-grabbing friend. It’s used in the food and automotive industries, and the all important road signs. 

Green: Sustainability, durability, toughness, friendliness, health, freshness, growth

Green says “Hey I’m a fun guy and all, but I’m going to be home by 9 and we’re using compostable cups.” You’ve seen it widely used in health foods, outdoors products, and in the finance industry. 

Honorable mentions go to purple, you glamorous, mysterious, and charming thing you. We can’t forget the Hufflepuff of colors, orange -- secure, passionate, and fun. And rounding out the honorable mentions we have trustworthy, humble, and earthy brown as well as sophisticated, elite, and expensive black.

The brain’s link to color isn’t fully understood yet, but it’s effects are noticeable once you know what to look for. So, next time you get that deep, mysterious fry craving, ask yourself “Am I hungry, or is the sign just red?”

Shrink, Shrink, Rudolph

Shrink, Shrink, Rudolph

Science Made Simple

Science Made Simple