August 21st, 2023

Beyond Aesthetics: The Profound Psychology of Colours and Their Mythical Origins

Vladislava Genova

By Vladislava Genova

Dear Readers, with this opening article we will walk you through the meaning of colours – as perceived throughout history and different cultures – and in the article to follow we will explore the influence of colours in branding and marketing. 

Colours permeate every aspect of our lives, influencing our choices in clothing, cars, home decor, and more. Their impact extends beyond the surface level, as they have the power to shape our thoughts, feelings, and actions. While individual preferences and subjective perceptions play a role, colours possess a deep-rooted psychological significance that can be traced back to ancient human history.

In the realm of psychology, there exist common psychological attitudes known as “archetypes,” which have been extensively studied by experts in Depth Psychology. These archetypes reveal that our minds are not blank slates (tabulas rasas), but rather carry inherited structures of thought and behaviour formed throughout the course of human evolution. They influence our judgment, instincts, decisions, and reflexes, and even manifest in our dreams. 

Yes, you guessed it! Our perception of colours and the associations we make with them are intricately connected to these psychological archetypes.

The Mythological Meaning of Colours

If you’ve neglected your Psychology books lately, buckle up! We’re about to embark on a captivating journey into the enchanting realm of colours.

Red: Love Vs. Danger

The colour red holds immense historical significance and represents the oldest known colour in human history. It is closely tied to life and death, symbolizing the vital essence of blood coursing through our veins. 

An ancient tale depicts a hunter battling a bull, resulting in both their deaths as their blood spills onto the ground. Hence, red is associated with both life and the inevitability of death. Additionally, red is linked to fire, a magical element that provided protection, warmth, and nourishment to early humans. It also embodies the passionate and sensual aspects of love, often symbolized by the iconic red heart. 

Notably, red is a colour that evokes energy, joy, and confidence, but can also signify aggression, danger, and mortality.

Blue: Harmony & Unity

Blue, reminiscent of the boundless sea and expansive sky, has long been a source of inspiration for artists across various mediums. Its calming effect on the nervous system brings forth feelings of peace and relaxation. Blue represents harmony, unity, and the eternal cycle of life, as depicted by rivers flowing from mountains to the sea, then evaporating and returning as rain. 

Symbolically, blue is associated with the soul, heaven, and divinity. Christian monasteries, for example, drape sacred items in blue cloth, with indigo representing the Holy Trinity. Blue also signifies human immortality and the vital energy bestowed upon us by a higher power. Light blue, in particular, evokes images of ice, coldness, clarity, transparency, and water.

Yellow: Golden Alchemy

Yellow and golden hues, with their radiance and brilliance, immediately bring to mind the sun. The sun, representative of male energy and often referred to as “made of gold,” exudes warmth and strength. In contrast, the moon, often associated with silver, influences the earth’s waters and brings a sense of coolness. 

Gold holds great significance in history, as it was believed to possess supernatural powers due to its association with the sun. Crowns, aureoles, and other symbols of grandeur are often depicted with shining rays akin to the sun. The pursuit of transforming ordinary metal into gold, a quest pursued by alchemists, further emphasizes its mystical allure and elusive nature.

Green: Life & Vitality

Green, the colour of life and nature, is intimately connected to our existence. The lush greenery of trees, bushes, and flowers provides us with vital oxygen and offers awe-inspiring vistas that soothe our minds. Life without green plants is inconceivable, as demonstrated by the Sahara desert’s barrenness. 

Across different religions, cultures, and nations, green has become a symbol of hope and vitality. 

Orange: Connection & Friendliness

Orange, on the other hand, represents socializing, personal warmth, and the desire to connect with others. Although not as intense as red, orange evokes feelings of cosiness, reminiscent of a crackling fireplace or warm sun rays during autumn’s harvest. 

Orange embodies characteristics such as liveliness, friendliness, and youthful energy.

Purple: Magic & Enchantment

Purple, a combination of red and blue, intertwines the wild, passionate energy of red with the patient and persistent nature of blue. It is a colour that represents both fiery flames and freezing water, making it an enchanting and enigmatic hue. 

Purple serves as a gateway to the mystical realm, where sorceresses, shamans, spirits, and apparitions reside. It embodies notions of magic, enchantment, and the search for inner truth through compromise. 

Brown: Earth & Stability

Brown, as the colour of the earth, taps into our innate need for stability and security. Just as primitive humans sought refuge and protection in caves, brown evokes feelings of confidence and strength. Its use in interior design creates a warm, hospitable, and cosy atmosphere.

Black & White: The dual nature of life

The timeless words, “In the beginning, there was nothing, and out of it began everything,” reflect the profound significance of black and white colours since the dawn of life. They represent the eternal struggle between light and darkness, good and evil, and life and death. One cannot exist without the other, forming the complete tapestry of existence. The Yin and Yang symbol from Chinese culture encapsulates this duality.

>>> Well, this chapter has come to an end.

If you’ve found it fascinating, then stay tuned for the next one! 

We invite you to discover how businesses strategically harness the power of hues to craft unforgettable logos, shape their brand identity, plan advertising campaigns and leave a lasting impression on the public’s mind. 

See you soon!