William Joseph Communications

The Psychology of Colour

There are a lot of assumptions regarding colour and how it affects the psychological disposition of those who experience it. Marketers have been using these assumptions for years. Much of what is said is mostly anecdotal through practice. Studies suggest that there is far more to colour theory than just the colour itself. Factors such as the dominant culture one resides within, major events, gender bias, corresponding imagery, animism, fashion, age, and individual experiences, all greatly affect our perception of colour. There are so many moving parts, that one should consider the following as more of an abridged exploration for this time and place, rather than a bible of what each colour universally represents.

Let’s break down the factors that can significantly affect how a particular colour is perceived.

Dominant Culture

Each culture around the world greatly impacts perception of colour. For example, in North America, Black is used often for the mourning period after a death. In other cultures they may use white, purple or gold. A brand that spans across the globe may need to take this into consideration when promoting a product or service.

Major Events

Purple, for example, after WWII was seen as courageous and brave. Before it was seen as royal and dignified. This could be a result of the Purple Heart Medal soldiers were given for bravery after being injured while in the line of duty. Events like this can have a profound influence on a society’s sensitivity towards particular hues.

Gender Bias

While we all have heard that blue is for boys and pink for girls, it might surprise you to learn that this is a very new thing in our culture. The separation wasn’t really cemented into our collective consciousness until the 1940’s. There was even a time where the opposite of pink for boys and blue for girls was the case. Before that, colour was mostly gender neutral. In the 70’s with the rise of feminism, there was a push back from these rules which gave more latitude to these arbitrary rules. With that said, men and women do in large part have particular preferences with what is their favorite colour. Whether any of this is from nature or nurture is a topic for another day. Although both genders have blue as the most preferred colour, men do prefer blue above other colours more often. The difference in favorites is more pronounced with other hues like purple. For women it is the second most popular colour whereas it barely shows up on the list for men.


Imagery shapes how we feel about, as well as, perceive a shade of a particular colour. If for example a shade of orange is in the shape of a heart, most will see it having a more red hue than if it is a simple geometric form. An image portraying rough leather that’s brown for example, will evoke a different response than the same brown used in an image of chocolate. Therefore, colour is extremely subjective and context must always be considered.


Is a term coined in the late 19th century by Sir Edward Tylor and by definition represents non-human entities such as animals, plants and even inanimate objects who possess a spirit or personality. In this context, brands are seen by most to have a personality. Harley Davidson could be viewed as a rugged unshaven man in his late 30’s to 40’s, while another motorcycle brand, KTM could be seen as a young man in his 20’s who is interested in technology. Both brands use the same colour combination, but have cultivated very different perceptions of what their colours represent by tying their colours to imagery and specific brand language.


Trends within fashion are in constant flux. Colours like orange and brown surface in colour preference some years while in others drop to the bottom of the list. Understanding colour trends in popular culture can dramatically affect some brands more than others.


Studies have shown that bright colours such as yellow are more preferred in children. The colour green is less preferred, while blue and purple grow in popularity as people age. Knowing your demographic is important when working with colour families.

What started out as a simple question of how colour can motivate particular emotions, ended with a much more complex exploration of how various outside factors can create drastically different perceptions of colour and what it can represent. While colour is crucial to recognizing the impact of how it can form brand perceptions, it is only one piece of a much larger puzzle.

It's only fair to share...
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone
> Back to Blog


Monday, March 18th, 2019 at 11:50am
We're so happy to work with incredible organizations such as @ChoirsRedDeer and it looks like the feeling is mutual. Thanks for the kind words!

Learn more about the brand we created for CRD! https://t.co/kQFDDd8ktZ https://t.co/P2bjUcSien
wj_agency photo
Sunday, March 17th, 2019 at 7:00am
We hope you enjoy St.Patrick's Day today! Remember, be responsible! #thinklucky https://t.co/JEf2wmdTuG wj_agency photo
Thursday, March 14th, 2019 at 12:01pm
Senior Strategist Erin will be in Grande Prairie on March 19, 11:30AM for her Marketing for Non-Profits sesh.

https://t.co/W7jBdOhYN2 https://t.co/Q5O6dfuUqT
Wednesday, March 13th, 2019 at 2:25pm
Ryan's Roundup is coming to #YXE! Join us for a night of good times filled with drinks and networking at @HudsonsPub from 4-6PM on March 15th - let's start those St. Patrick's Day celebrations early! https://t.co/uDZRbDsld3 https://t.co/uKDjjVMw3s wj_agency photo
Monday, March 11th, 2019 at 1:16pm
March 19th at 11:30 am. #GrandePrairie, our Marketing for Non-Profits WJU session is coming to you! Learn how to make your non-profit stand up and stand out. https://t.co/W7jBdOhYN2


William Joseph Communications

We are the difference between momentary achievement and enduring success.Your success requires an agency that offers a fully integrated solution. One that has the vision to see beyond your current borders and the troops to guide you there. With us as your allies, be confident that you can achieve your boldest ambitions. At William Joseph we offer complete marketing solutions composed of strategies, tactics, and designs that effectively tell your story and address your unique marketing goals. Everything from advertising campaigns to experiential design, our team takes your corporate identity and translates it through a wide array of mediums to successfully champion your company.
William Joseph Communications
William Joseph CommunicationsMonday, March 18th, 2019 at 2:23pm
We're so happy to work with incredible organizations such as Choirs Red Deer and it looks like the feeling is mutual. Thanks for the kind words!

Check out the link to learn more about the brand we created for CRD!

William Joseph Communications
William Joseph CommunicationsSunday, March 17th, 2019 at 10:00am
We hope you enjoy St.Patrick's Day today! Remember, be responsible! #thinklucky
William Joseph Communications
William Joseph CommunicationsFriday, March 15th, 2019 at 10:34pm
A big shout out to everyone that came out tonight to Ryan’s Roundup in Saskatoon. Let’s keep the spirit alive and do it again! Good folks make the world go round!
William Joseph Communications
William Joseph CommunicationsFriday, March 15th, 2019 at 10:33pm
Over a year ago our branding and marketing strategy work started for Excel Health. Tonight, all our hard work takes centre stage at the grand opening. Congrats to such a visionary group of individuals on building such an amazing clinic.
William Joseph Communications
William Joseph CommunicationsFriday, March 15th, 2019 at 3:09pm
We got into the St.Patrick’s Day spirit a couple days early at the office!


Monday, March 18th, 2019 at 2:55pm
  • 23
  • 1
Sunday, March 17th, 2019 at 10:00am
  • 11
  • 0
Friday, March 15th, 2019 at 3:01pm
  • 43
  • 2
Monday, March 11th, 2019 at 4:51pm
  • 36
  • 2
Friday, March 8th, 2019 at 2:45pm
  • 35
  • 2