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Stories That Move You.

Color Matters

By Deanne Carbone

rainbow colour barsI never met a color I didn’t like. But with approximately 10 million colors visible to the human eye, the chances are good there will be a few that don’t agree with me.

What color looks like is greatly affected by the viewing conditions. These conditions include the color of lighting, the amount of lighting and other colors in the scene. Not to mention, the different modes when they appear on different objects and surfaces. What’s more, people also have slight differences in how they see color. Factoring all this in, mathematicians have calculated a staggering 18 decillion colors are possible (that’s 18 followed by 33 zeros!) Maybe it’s better said that color is infinite.

Color has its humble beginnings with three primaries: yellow, red and blue. These three, when mixed together in varying ways, give us quite a spectrum. And, what’s really intriguing is our emotional reaction to color and what historically has been associated with it.


• In almost every culture yellow represents sunshine, happiness and warmth.

• Yellow is the color most often associated with the deity in religions such as Hinduism and those in ancient Egyptian cultures.

• The human eye processes yellow first and it’s the most visible color of the spectrum – which explains why it is used for traffic lights and cautionary signs all over the world.

• Yellow is the only color that reacts badly to black: Add a little black and it suddenly becomes a swampy green.

• Yellow has a high light reflectance value and, therefore, it acts as a secondary light source. Excessive use of bright yellow (such as on interior walls) can irritate the eyes.


• Red captures attention. It is one of the most visible colors, second only to yellow – which explains why it is used on fire engines and stop signs to trigger alertness the world over.

• Red is the color of extremes: passionate love, seduction, violence, danger, anger and adventure.

• Red is the second-most-popular color in the spectrum.

• Approximately 77% of all flags include red.

• Shades of red and orange stimulate hunger. Next time you’re in a restaurant, check out the décor. If the owners have done their research, you’ll more than likely find yourself seated next to a terra cotta wall.


• Many people choose blue as their favorite color.

• Blue has more complex and contradictory meanings than any other color. For example, dark blue represents trust, dignity, intelligence, authority; bright blue: cleanliness, strength, dependability, coolness; light (sky) blue: peace, serenity, ethereal, spiritual, infinity.

• Blue is the most commonly used color in corporate identity.

• Blue ranks so high as a favorite color that you can’t go wrong if you use blue in design. However, blue can be over-used and may wind up a design cliché if used alone. Combining blue with another color creates a more creative effect.

• Blue is the only color that maintains its own character in all its tones – it will always stay blue.

Savvy marketers understand that color is emotional, representational and carries a lot of weight in its respective environments – whether in advertising, web sites, interiors, exteriors, signage and print collateral. Therefore, it’s important to understand what we want to convey via the use of color in brand communications.

At Mary Free Bed, we’ve historically used green and orange as our standard. I’m wondering what that means to our patients and the public at large.

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