A guide to office colours and psychology

A guide to office colours and psychology

Deciding on an office colour scheme is not just about matching colours to your brand, it’s also about finding the best office colours for happy and productive staff. As office redesign experts, we help employers with choosing the right colour palette for their staff and workplace dynamic. Different colours suit different sectors, and there’s actually a lot of thought and careful consideration behind the famous brands you know and love because of the psychology behind different colours. 

Brand colour psychology

So, let’s go through some brands to give you a bit of insight. Everyone knows McDonald’s – the Golden Arches, as they say. See, even that term conjures up positivity and an abstract ideal: elevation, sunshine etc. The juxtaposition of the yellow and red creates an irresistible symbol of happiness and desire. Red: so associated with love and our carnal instincts, temptation and urgency, combined with yellow: representing sunshine, light, hope and positivity, creates a subconscious inviting signal; we won’t even go into the hidden Freudian meaning behind the M shape

Blue: trust and logic

Then, think about most of the social media platforms or tech companies. What colour springs to mind? Twitter: blue. Facebook: blue. LinkedIn: fill in the blank. Remember Myspace and MSN? Think about IBM, Dell, and HP. All to do with computers, internet, data, and networks. And all using the colour blue. A pure coincidence? Or, maybe it’s because blue is often associated with trust, logic, intelligence and safety. Why did PayPal go for blue too, instead of red or black? If you want to create a powerful presence of trust for your office, then a blue palette may be fitting. 

Red: desire and alertness

We’ve already talked about how McDonald’s uses the red to evoke desire. So, it’s very interesting to find its main competitor using the same striking colour: KFC. Another fast food restaurant using red: the symbol of love, desire, passion, and urgency, that doesn’t make any sense does it? Of course it does, now you see it. Linking to the carnal, it’s also why many sex toy and adult brands use it, or at least incorporate a deep pink. And because of its association with alertness, you tend to find sales offices incorporating the energetic colour to motivate staff. Just like you see clearance and for-sale signs in red, it’s encouraging you and alerting you to act fast, representing need. You just have to think about your brand and the type of work taking place in a certain room. Your sales office may suit a red colour scheme, but would you have it for your tech team?

Yellow: creativity and positivity

The lightbulb moments, sparks flying, and bright ideas, the colour yellow runs through all these terms. That’s why it works for creative industries. It’s a motivating colour, so it can also work well for sales and high-energy work environments. The different vibrancies can also play a part. You might want a bright yellow for a business that deals with education or children; thinking about an upbeat and hopeful atmosphere. Then, you might consider a mustard or darker yellow for a high-end fashion brand or DIY business. 

Orange: energy and happiness

Combining yellow and red, this colour really does incorporate both psychological traits behind those colours. The passion from the red mixed with the positivity and brightness from the yellow creates a warm, energetic vibe. Another colour perfect for motivating, this also works great for health brands. We immediately think about the fruit and its health benefits, and paired with the colour’s association with happiness, the colour can be used for creative rooms or to inject some fun vibes; which is why it also works perfectly for kid brands too.

Purple: regality and luxury

Rooted in its association with regality because of it being only reserved for those in power and a case of rarity, purple can link to power and luxury. Being a product of red and blue, it’s also a unisex colour, as it mixes the masculine and feminine colours, and can also link to maturity with deeper tones. It’s why it’s not surprising that a lot of chocolate brands use the colour, to relate to that luxury, which chocolate used to be, and you could say still is. Incredibly versatile, the lighter lavender shades to richer shades of indigo and violet, can create a range of moods and settings, you just need to factor in lighting and your brand.

Green: calmness and wealth

Good health, wealth, and wellbeing, if there was a colour to underline this phrase, it would be green, surely? Synonymous with nature, money, health and happiness, green is a calming colour. That’s why you’ll find a lot of health, science, medical, and outdoor brands with green shades. Relating to money, accounting and bank brands also use it; think of Lloyds Bank, QuickBooks, and Sage. There’s a safety and trust element to the colour too. If red is linked to alertness and warning, green is more comforting and natural, which makes sense as to why finance and health companies brand themselves around it.

Choosing the right colours for your office as well as your brand

With all the different psychological factors to consider, you need to find the right balance between your branding and workplace dynamics when injecting some colour into the office. You may be a red brand, but having a few walls painted fully in a certain red shade may hinder your employees by causing subtle anxieties or stifling creativity. 

Lighting also plays a big part, as does the space. You don’t want to overwhelm staff with too many dark colours when there’s minimal natural light, or go for too many bright, block colours when there’s not a lot of room. 

You’ll have your eyes opened if you simply ask your staff to get involved by getting their say on the colours they prefer too. You could send an email or survey out, or just have a meeting to get everyone’s feedback before you get set on an office makeover. 

Office colours and psychology chart

Before you embark on an office redesign, get some expert insight from the professionals here at Diamond Interiors. We’ve spent years helping businesses create productive and suitable workplaces that match brands and objectives. Get in touch today to see how we can help.