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Color Theory

How effective is color theory to a person’s mind? An experiment was made in 1978 by Alexander Schauus to prove that color can cause emotional and hormonal changes. He discovered that a particular shade of pink had a most profound effect. He labeled it “P-618”.

To further prove his theory, in 1979, Schauss convinced the directors of a Naval correctional institute to paint the prison cells pink to see the effect it might have on prisoners. According to the institutes’ reports, “Since the initiation of this procedure on March 1, 1979, there have been no incidents of erratic or hostile behavior during the initial phase of confinement”. There was a reduction of any potentially violent or aggressive behavior after only 15 minutes of exposure. Schauss later renamed this color to Baker-Miller Pink after the Naval correctional institute directors.

What is Color Theory?

A set of principles that all working colors use is the color theory. Therefore, it is both a science and an art form. The color theory explains how humans perceive color, and how the visual effects of mix and matching, and contrasting colors interact to create pleasing color combinations. It also explains how certain colors affect a person’s mind and thought patterns.


Red portrays visceral, bold, courage, and energy. It also stimulates your appetite.

Orange is friendly, cheerful, confident, fun, and represents vitality. Lighter shades appeal to a more upscale market.

Yellow is normally optimism, clarity, warmth, and positivism. Eyes see yellow first which makes it great for POS displays.

Green is for balance, harmony, health, growth, and freshness. Prestige is associated with dark greens.

Blue represents trustworthiness, strength, dependability, and security. This is a very popular color in offices.

Purple is wise, creative, imaginative, and represents royalty. However, lavender evokes nostalgia and sentimentality.

Black is prestigious, serious, bold, classic, and powerful. This color works well for expensive products.

But Why?

In the example above, you can see what each color represents in the color theory. Now you might be wondering what color theory has to do with your growing business. While it is true, color interpretation is different depending on the individual. Research has found that color can persuade and affect consumers. Within 90 seconds or less, a person can decide whether they like a product. Most of the time this is based solely on color. Color is a key element in boosting a brand’s recognition by 80%!

Think about popular brands that you might know. Does a specific color come to mind? For example, when you think of Coka-Cola©, you imagine their red cans. When you think of Tiffany Jewelry, you imagine the blue box and the feeling you get when you see it. Or, how about, McDonald’s© with the golden yellow arches. All of these companies know how to use the color theory and not just for their logos.

For example, let us look deeper at McDonald’s©. They have the yellow ‘M’ on almost all their packages and around that ‘M’ you can find the secondary color, red. Why use these colors? What do these colors make the consumers think? The ‘M’ is yellow so it catches your eyes first. The secondary color is red which stimulates a person’s appetite. Therefore, McDonald’s© wants to grab their consumers’ attention quickly with their brand and to have them hungry for their fast food. Many people flock to McDonald’s© while on the road, which proves that their color theory is working.

Color Theory Key Takeaway

In conclusion, color theory is very important for a company and they should focus on their color choice for their brand. The company then needs to observe the effects of their choice on their consumers. Color theory is just a small part of the whole picture to draw consumers to your company. You must know what you want your company to represent with consumers and how you want to make them feel. Here at #TechStarters, we can help you with all your graphic design needs and guide you through this colorful world that we live in.