It is a fact that colour is linked to the human psyche. The proof of its influence on mood, decision-making processes and even on health, has deep roots to sink in over 2000 years of history, in the ancient Egyptian culture.
Egyptians used rooms of different colours for therapeutic purposes. This practice makes them so up advanced in the field of chromotherapy.
In his studies on colour, Aristotle explained how, by mixing two primary colours, a third colour is obtained, called secondary, and he theorized the transmission of light (and colour) through waves. In the Middle Ages we started talking about “colour philosophy” thanks to Paracelsus, who used to treat his patients with coloured rays, music and herbs, a precursor of very current methods of alternative medicine.
Other illustrious scholars such as Newton and Goethe experimented with the study of colour. The first, with his studies on white light, showed that it contained seven different coloured rays. The second, author of the “Theory of Colours” of 1810, in which he deepened the aspects related to the human perception of colours.
It soon became clear how the use of colour combinations, rather than single use, was the key to profoundly influencing human perception
One of the most significant recent studies is documented in Josef Albers’ book “Interaction of Color” published in 1963. In his book, Albers theorizes that colours are governed by their own internal logic. Based on the experience of perception, rather than on colour theories, the text was born above all as an educational tool for artists and students. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of its publication, Yale University Press launched its digital version in 2013 in the form of an App. In addition to containing the original text of the book, it offers a working tool that reminds us that colour is instinctive and must be experienced, not just “seen”.
Consumers make up their mind about colour in about 60 seconds. A right colour takes them just one step away from the purchase, at the same time a wrong colour sends them away completely.
Colour carries within itself powerful subliminal messages: it is crucial to impose the image of a brand, reinforces its identity and is what very often leads to purchase.
This is why the most famous brands invest important resources in choosing the right colour.
To prove how much we are influenced by colour, Arkitip recently conducted a study at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. Five identical rooms of the hotel were painted with different colour combinations based on the Comex Group palette. Five journalists were invited to stay in each of the five rooms. They were then asked to give an opinion on the liking of their stay. Also in this case the results clearly confirmed how colour has influenced the liking and judgments of the five guests.
When analysing the psychology of colour in branding, in a product or in a commercial context, a profound analysis of cultural codes linked to the reference market is also essential.
Colours carry very different connotations from one culture to another, and some of them can cross cultural boundaries more easily than others.
A colour considered “neutral” in one country could be “lit” in another, or positive in one culture and negative in another.
For example, white is associated with the image of purity in most Western cultures, while in China it is the colour of mourning, where red means joy, as opposed to danger and sensuality in the Western world.
A brand that doesn’t take into account the deep and secular cultural ties of colour in the different societies can hardly succeed in its different markets.
The current world is more than ever “color-coded”. The more global companies are, the more they tend to embrace a local logic in their actions. And this trend seems to be the key to the success of many businesses projected into the future, and the use of colour plays a fundamental role in this.
One example is Google, which has made every office in the world reflect the peculiarities of local culture. The office in Japan, designed by Klein Dytham, reflects the local culture in references to traditional national festivals, aquarium tanks and typical wooden houses. The Tel Aviv office has a meeting room full of orange trees. While the London one is characterized by the symbol of the Union Jack and spaces where the staff can grow a small vegetable garden.
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