As meeting professionals make color choices for websites, marketing materials, and the physical spaces where attendees gather, there’s more than the aesthetics to consider. Colors are also steeped in cultural symbolism and psychological associations that affect people’s experience.
For example, asking everyone to wear white to a special event may evoke purity, cleanliness, and perhaps luxury to attendees from Western societies. However, white is associated with death and mourning in many Asian cultures—not the mood most planners are going for.
Another example: According to the Designing Disney website, marketing materials failed for Euro Disney Resort (later renamed Disneyland Paris) because the purple used for the logo, signs, and other materials was perceived negatively, symbolizing “death and crucifixion in a predominantly Catholic Europe,” a much different reaction than the color has in the U.S. market.
Also interesting are the psychological effects that colors can elicit, and how they can be matched to the goals of an event. We and the Color, an online magazine, has a succinct article on the feelings and associations connected with color. And event production powerhouse Encore also has an excellent resource: a blog piece entitled How to Leverage Color Psychology to Unlock the Unforgettable, which includes a chart discussing the brain’s physical response to a color; the advantages it can have for attendees, such as increased attention; and what meeting goal the color best supports. Here are three examples from the Encore findings:
Green is a calming color. It requires no eye adjustments and relaxes the body. Because it alleviates stress and improves vision, it’s a good color to use for training events.
Red, on the other hand, is a good color when a session requires analysis. It activates the adrenal gland, increases the heartbeat, and can improve memory and enhance vigilance.
For setting goals, try purple, which encourages introspection and contemplation. Physically, purple will slow the pulse rate and deepen breathing.