Meanings of the Colors: Symbolism & Power of Colors in Your Life

What do colors mean? You see color everywhere, but ever wondered what they really mean?

The meanings of the colors rise from our deepest needs and natural associations – from the calming blue sky to a delicious red strawberry.

Color holds power.

Colors can influence our decision-making, thinking, and impact our moods. Depending on our interpretations, they can be used for good or evil.

To truly grasp the meaning of the colors, we must learn that although some hues are similar, they don’t awaken the same emotions on us.

All in all, colors can be a powerful tool if you know how to use them.

Whether you’re a designer, business owner, or a student, this guide to the meaning of the colors is practical and full of science-backed facts.

It will help you choose the right colors and convey your message adequately.

After all, color plays an essential role in how your brand is perceived, and you don’t want to convey a wrong impression.

Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.

Pablo Picasso

The meaning of the colors

Colors convey meanings in two different ways – psychological association and cultural symbolism.

Color psychology studies the hues as a determinant of human behavior.

That is, colors convey feelings, evoke emotions, and impact people’s behavior.

For instance, it is when you perceive a picture of a slice of blue bread to be less flavorful than a creamy colored one – even though you never tasted either of them.

Although the meaning of the colors can give us a good idea of how people from a region will behave when exposed to a particular hue, colors don’t have one cumulative meaning.

And that is called color symbolism.

Indian bride wearing red
Bride on her wedding day – Red means purity in India

Color symbolism is an ambiguous term as the underlying meaning of each color is not universal and changes in every culture – it refers to how colors are tied up to symbolic elements unique to each individual.

That is to say, people are greatly influenced by other varied factors, such as upbringing, cultural experiences, gender, context, and personal experiences. But we will talk about that later in this article.

Where do color meanings come from?

Our brain contains an associative network based on emotional connection, sensory experience, and semantic meaning.

These associations are the process of millions of years of biological conditioning, creating individual relationships between feelings and colors.

Through association, we attribute characteristics to elements, including their colors, and that influences how we perceive and behave in this colorful world.

However, a few things can influence the meaning of the colors for each person.

Graph color association
Associative network

Why do colors have different meanings?

As said above, the meaning of the colors might be different for every person.

Although blue is often depicted as a calming color, some individuals might perceive it as an intimidating hue, which confirms color psychology isn’t an exact science.

People attribute different meanings to the same color based on:

  • Personal experiences – Each color will trigger a distinct sense depending on your own experiences. For instance, yellow might be a happy color, but if your child got hit by a yellow car in the past, you might associate it with bad moments.
  • Cultural connotations – It’s not a secret that each color has contradictory meanings in other cultures. While blue is a boy’s color in Western cultures, it is considered a feminine color in China.
  • Gender – From a young age, we’re conditioned to specific colors depending on our gender. That directly influences our color preferences. [1]
  • Context – The context is essential to understand the meaning of a color. For instance, red can act as an appetitive signal in a restaurant, or as a warning signal in the road.[2]
Colorful pantone to explain the meanings of the colors

Non-verbal communication

A color is a form of non-verbal communication. That is, colors can awaken thoughts of memories, stimulate the senses, and represent abstract ideas.

In daily life, people might choose a specific clothing color to convey their emotions, often subconsciously.

For instance, people wearing black on a particular day might indicate any of the color black’s psychological meanings, including:

  • It might be their favorite color, or
  • They might be feeling powerful and confident about what they are about to do, or
  • They might be feeling rebellious or want to earn the respect of those around them, or
  • It may be that they are feeling pessimistic and want to hide their vulnerabilities that day, on either a conscious or subconscious level.
Beautiful woman wearing a black dress
Black is powerful and elegant

List of color meanings

Meaning of the Colors

To help you discover the celebrated phenomenon of colors, here’s an overview of each of their meanings.

Summary of the meaning of the colors

Colors and their meanings – what a wonderful world to dive in.

Many seek the meaning of the colors to understand more about themselves. Others seek it to learn how to influence others – either through a well-picked home decor or a website button.

Without a doubt, colors glow with power.

But even after admitting their potential, it’s safe to say that a color description, definition, or meaning – however you prefer -, is not universal.

Study the meaning of the colors and use them in your life, but remember life experiences play a significant role in how people perceive different hues.

Still, they are subtle and yet robust tools to be used in a design, business, clothing, and interior decoration.

They are the basis of everything we do, buy, or create – use it in your favor.

Further reading into how to use colors

Colors are an incredibly detailed subject.

That’s why we have a whole array of helpful articles, from how colors affect us every day to how color theory can help you pick the best colors for your designs.

We hope you find them valuable!

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