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  • Writer's pictureIan Morris

Colour psychology: Go green

Colour Psychology: Green (with a green forest in the background)

Green is one of those colours that instantly sparks a series of associations, whether you think of recycling, the green-eyed monster, emeralds or the environment, we all have something that we associate with the colour green. In this colour series we’ll discover why green is so significant in our daily lives and how we subliminally engage with the colour.

Positive associations: Green as grass

Green is one of the most common colours in the natural world – it’s everywhere! It is seen all around us in our environment and is, therefore, a symbol of nature, rebirth, life, health and rejuvenation. Aside from its beautiful colour, green physically and mentally affects us, not only does it relax our muscles, but aids our mood by its calming and stress-relieving effect. It is because of this, that theatres and studios use ‘green rooms’ where performers can relax before and after their performances.

Picture of green leafs

Negative associations: Green with envy

Unfortunately, our positive associations for green only go so far, as green is linked with many negative connotations as well. We link this colour with envy, and even the term ‘green-eyed monster’ is used to reflect jealousy. Illness can also be related to this colour, ‘green around the gills’ is a term, (though slightly old-fashioned), for someone who feels sick. It can even reflect greed.

Daily associations: Green means go

As everyone is familiar, green is iconically used as part of the colour coding on traffic signals around the world. It has been used as an association for ‘go’ since the mid-1800s when the railroad industry used colour coding to inform engineers when to stop or go.

Interestingly, the colour green originally represented ‘caution’, whereas white was used for ‘go’ (until an unfortunate incident when one of the coloured lenses fell out of its holder leaving the white ‘go’ light exposed! It seemed using green for ‘go’ was a perfect choice). With traffic signals aside, the use of green to represent safety is another worldwide association.

Exit signs indicating safe routes during an emergency are shown in green, along with green boxes with white crosses to signal a first aid kit. Even throughout various industrial applications, green is used to denote ‘start’ or ‘go’ when using machinery. It seems this particular association is universal, being used across vehicles, machinery and signals around the world.

Picture of a green traffic light indicating "Go"

Cultural associations: Lucky charms

With the colour green symbolising ‘luck’ in many western cultures, it is fascinating how this cultural link began. The shamrock is the traditional symbol for St Patrick’s Day and for those of you who have enjoyed a celebratory drink (or five) on St Patrick’s Day would have noticed a plethora of green decorations, among these being the green shamrock. The shamrock was said to ward off bad luck and offer magical protection and has been since used in St Patrick’s Day celebrations to this day.

As well as being the national colour of Ireland, green is also used worldwide to represent various meanings. In China, the green jade stones represent virtue and beauty and in Portugal, green is the colour of hope due to the associations of spring. It is also seen as the sacred colour of Islam.

Green Brands

Colour is powerful. It is the first element that people see in a logo and as we have discovered, this can have a powerful effect on how people interpret your brand.

Below is a collection of 10 leading brands that use green to their advantage:

Brands using green in their logos: Starbucks, HTC, Android, BP, Carlsberg, XBox, Specsavers, Spotify, Land Rover, Animal Planet

Green Facts:

  1. In King Arthur’s stories, green signifies mystical or magical properties.

  2. Night-vision goggles use green for their lenses as the human eye is most sensitive to this colour and able to identify the most shades.

  3. Similar to the colour used in traffic light signals, a green flag is used to signify the start of a race in auto racing.

  4. Green was a sacred colour to the Egyptians, and made their temple floors this colour.

  5. The Blackfriar Bridge in London was painted green as it is known for its soothing and calming effects. Suicides from the bridge reportedly dropped by 34%.

Interested in learning more? We’re all ears. Get in touch, and let’s chat about developing your brand together.

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