Words can paint pictures and shade meaning. But something else colours our messages: actual colour.

In figures of speech, we use colours to convey emotions. Ever been green with envy? Felt a little blue? Become so mad that you saw red? Looked for a silver lining? Been tickled pink?

Communications is colour too. The hues of everything from your logo to marketing material, and your products to décor, all tell a story.

March 21 was International Colour Day. It’s always around the equinox, when day and night are (roughly) equally long. The International Colour Association says the date symbolizes the complementary nature of light and shadow. So it’s a perfect time to recognize the non-verbal communications of colour.

  • Red: Passion, excitement, leadership, strength, courage, determination.
  • Green: Harmony, stability, growth, safety, prosperity, ambition, hope.
  • Blue: Serenity, security, calm, friendly, expertise, trust, integrity.
  • Purple: Imagination, nobility, wealth, mystery, romance.
  • Yellow: Energetic, cheerful, fresh, youthful, spontaneous.
  • Orange: Prestige, wisdom, desire, pleasure, change.
  • Brown: Calm, reliable, comfortable, experienced.
  • Black: Elegance, power, authority.
  • White: Purity, cleanliness, innocence, clarity.

Take different tones of the same colour, or combinations of different colours, and you evoke various associations. The impacts aren’t just psychological but physical. Colours can affect heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, metabolism and mental activity.

Incidentally, Pantone’s colour of the year for 2017 is what they call “greenery”. The annual selection is “a colour snapshot of what we see taking place in our global culture that serves as an expression of a mood and attitude,” says Pantone. What does greenery express? Pantone says it’s about reviving, restoring and renewing. It’s time to take a deep breath.

“Greenery bursts forth to provide the hope we collectively yearn for amid a complex social and political landscape,” suggests Leatrice Eiseman of Pantone. “Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvenate and revitalize, greenery symbolizes the reconnection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose.”

So happy spring and happy International Colour Day. Here’s to golden opportunities, red-letter days and coming through with flying colours.

Stuart Foxman is a Toronto-based freelance writer, who helps clients’ products, services, ideas and organizations to come alive. Follow me on Twitter @StuartFoxman, connect with me here on LinkedIn, or check me out at foxmancommunications.com. I would love to hear from you. More articles like this coming, with original posts every week about communications, writing, branding, creativity, media, marketing, persuasion, messages, etc., etc.

March 22, 2017

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