There are many theories of what colors make us experience what emotions. In particular, red and yellow are known as hungry colors.
The psychology behind color has been documented for years, with the earliest reference dating back to the 1400s. It’s widely accepted that warmer colors (reds, yellows, oranges) can stimulate our nervous system, while cooler shades (blues, greens) tend to have a calming effect.
Go even further into color theory and you’ll see that different shades trigger different emotions and behaviors in people.
Traditional blue shades are often associated with trust. That’s a big reason why banks and big box stores choose this as their primary brand color. Green often brings to mind health, money, connection to nature. White triggers feelings of purity, innocence and space.
Color psychology is now heavily referenced in marketing and branding. When selecting colors for your own brand it’s a good idea to do some research to see which emotions different colors are known to elicit.
Take red as an example. Red is an incredibly popular branding choice, as it evokes feelings of power, energy, and intensity. It’s a stimulating color and is often categorized as a “hungry” color.
Red draws people in, it’s attention-getting. News anchors and presidential candidates wear red ties as subtle references to authority. Louboutin shoes have red soles to symbolize sexiness and power. Red is used in ad design to draw attention to important details, and research has recently shown that red opt-in buttons have been linked with higher “opt in” rates on sales and landing pages versus any other color.
But why is it considered a hungry color?
Research has shown that certain shades of red can energize people. It is known to speed up heart rate and increase blood flow. When blood flow is increased to the digestive system, it can trigger your metabolism, which can also have the effect of jump-starting appetite.
Because of this association, many fast food and restaurant brands use red as a primary color in their logo design.
Yellow is another color that is classified as a “hungry” color.
Known as a cheery, stimulating color, yellow makes us feel good, and puts us in a good mood. It’s also been known to increase appetite, encouraging people to eat more. It’s another color used extensively in logo design for food outlets.
Put red and yellow together and you have a very powerful double-whammy.
And it’s not just used in branding. Using various shades of yellow and red in the environment have also been shown to increase energy and stimulate appetite. Both colors are known for creating strong associations, both mentally and emotionally.
In other words, they make us feel good, particularly when we’re eating. So when we see them, we are reminded we felt good when we were eating, and the cycle perpetuates itself.
The human brain is an incredibly complex thing but hungry color theory may make it seem like it’s easy to manipulate. Whatever the case may be, humans have certainly used color theory to their advantage.