- Psychology of Black and White and What They Mean for Your Business
- UNDERSTANDING BLACK AND WHITE AND COLOR THEORY
- HOW BLACK SPEAKS
- HOW WHITE SPEAKS
- CULTURAL ASSOCIATIONS
- DESIGNING WITH BLACK
- DESIGNING WITH WHITE
- DESIGNING WITH BLACK AND WHITE TO COMPLETE
- DESIGNING WITH BLACK AND WHITE TO ACCENT
- CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION
- Meaning of the Color White: Symbolism, Common Uses, & More
- White Color Meanings in Different Cultures
- What Does the Color White Mean in the Bible?
- Psychological Meanings of White
- Color White Meaning
- Physical Effects of White
- Personality Color White
- Meanings of White Shades
- More Shades of White
- Most Common Uses of White
- Companies and Brands That Use White in Their Logo
- White Gemstone
- Facts About White
- Quotes About White
- Popular Idioms With the Word White
- Summary Color White Meaning
- The Psychology of Design: The “Color” White in Marketing & Branding
- How the color white is perceived in today's world
- What white means for me as a website designer
- How white space can be perceived negatively
- «Passive white space» vs. «active white space»
- What to consider when designing with white space
- How successful websites use white (space)
- A challenge
Psychology of Black and White and What They Mean for Your Business
We’ve shared earlier a basic understanding of the importance of making color decisions can be in business. Understanding color and its impact isn’t just visual but can increase brand recognition and loyalty.
Making these decisions is difficult because of every individual filters color with their own conscious and subconscious associations.
Understanding these associations within the audience for whom your work, service, or product is intended is essential to making smart color decisions, bridging the gap between what you are trying to communicate and what is actually perceived.
We explored this reality with the color blue, the color red, the color green and the color yellow. Let’s now address two colors that go hand-in-hand: black and white. Here's your guide to understanding the colors black and white, and how to design using them.
Before exploring how black and white speak, let’s first deal with the “elephant in the room.” Some of you may have seen the title of this post and said, “But wait, [black or white] isn’t a color, it’s the absence of all colors!” If that’s you, we suggest that you keep reading.
UNDERSTANDING BLACK AND WHITE AND COLOR THEORY
In terms of light frequencies (additive color theory), white is the presence of all colors and is, therefore, a color. Black is not; without light everything is black.
However, when thinking about color in terms of physical pigments (subtractive color theory), paint, the tables turn; white is not considered a color while black is the presence of all colors.
You can learn more about this on the Color Matters website.
With color theory and your opinion of what is and isn’t a color aside, we would all agree and accept that black and white are indeed colors. After all, we describe them as such. And let’s face it; if anyone tries to tell you that black and white are not colors, what would they say if you ask them what colors a zebra is.
HOW BLACK SPEAKS
Black is visually heavy. Its message is therefore very strong. Black’s most common association is power, authority, and strength. It is for this reason that too much black can become overwhelming.
In stories of good versus evil black and darkness is always symbolic of the villain (Darth Vader being a prime example). Other associations of black include intelligence (black horn-rimmed glasses), professionalism (suit and briefcase), mourning and mystery.
As a deep and serious color, black can direct communication in a powerful way.
HOW WHITE SPEAKS
White is considered safe and open. While black is symbolic of evil, white is directly linked to that which is righteous, good and peaceful (sticking with the Star Wars theme, Luke Skywalker is an effective example).
Furthermore, white projects clarity, cleanliness (doctors in white coats), purity (wedding dresses) and salvation. White is said to promote creative thought (a blank whiteboard) and is also synonymous with fresh beginnings.
As a positive, clear and open color, white can direct communication in a powerful way.
History and culture shed light on how black and white associations have become so easily accepted as being in opposition.
The most recognized example of this is represented in the Taoist Yin-Yang symbol, an embodiment of contrary forces (good and evil) that are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world.
In martial arts, the black belt signifies the highest rank (power), while the white belt represents someone who would run screaming from the person with the black belt. In Aztec culture, black represented war because the black obsidian glass was used as the cutting edge of battle swords.
In battle, a white flag is universally recognized as a symbol of surrender. Black is evil; white is good. Black traps space, while white opens space. Black evokes sophistication; white communicates innocence. It’s clear: black and white are opposites.
DESIGNING WITH BLACK
This simple ad for Ralph Lauren’s Polo Black uses black in an overwhelming, yet purposeful way. The ad is dark and strong, targeting men. Furthermore, it is serious and professional, communicating qualities of mystery and depth.
DESIGNING WITH WHITE
Apple has consistently used white as the backdrop of their marketing campaigns and for good reason. The company emphasizes through their primarily white design that they care about cleanness, openness and creative thought. This Apple iPad ad is a perfect example.
DESIGNING WITH BLACK AND WHITE TO COMPLETE
It’s important to recognize that although quintessentially opposite in a cultural and visual sense, black and white shouldn’t compete, but rather complete when used in professional marketing. It’s been said that “opposites attract.
” To put it another way: contrast creates completion. The convergence of black and white (more so than any other color combination) is an example of how two divergent colors communicate more powerfully together than they do on their own.
Check out the balance, peace, and clarity of this site.
DESIGNING WITH BLACK AND WHITE TO ACCENT
Using the visual balance of black and white with an accent color leads to powerful messaging and is a helpful strategy when wanting to draw attention to a specific object or creating a visual “pop.” These black and white sites do just that. By accenting certain parts of the page with a different color, they direct the viewer exactly where they want them to go.
Even though black and white are used far more than any other color, it’s easy to overlook how they are used and even why they are used. For instance, when black text is used on a white background we don’t question why this is the case.
But, this practice is so common because the contrast of black on white is the most readable and practical color scheme. The influence that black and white have is subconscious.
Therefore it is important to carefully consider the substantial impact they will inevitably have on your communication.
CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION
We’ve merely scratched the surface on how black and white communicate. The conversation could go on and on about how these colors impact our minds and attitudes. So, why not continue the conversation? Share some of your experience with black and white.
What are some other associations with black and white that we didn’t talk about? As you may know, each week we feature a distinct color on our page. Check out this week’s color of the week and see how it speaks.
Stay tuned as we continue to explore the complex nature of a specific color each month and its impacts on our attitudes within today’s culture and economy.
Meaning of the Color White: Symbolism, Common Uses, & More
White is the color of purity, peace, and cleanliness
This article is about the symbolism and meaning of the color white, which is part of the Color Meaning Series.
If you want to learn about all colors of the spectrum, you will want to check out this guide on color meanings.
Color white meanings
Where can we find the meaning of white?
Is it in the crunchy morning snow or in the freshly laundered bedsheets?
Perhaps white’s meaning is hidden in the soft cotton balls, in the brightness reflected by the moon, or in the serenity of a dandelion.
Many naturally white things could give us a sense of this color’s true meanings. And that’s precisely what we will delve into in this article.
To give you a full picture of the symbolism and meanings of the color white, we’ll also talk about its most common uses, company logos, chakra, gemstone, facts, quotes, and idioms.
White Color Meanings in Different Cultures
While color psychology advocates each color has an influence on our moods and behaviors, color associations are far from universal.
Colors can have different symbolism in different cultures. Not only that, but each person has a unique experience with each color, creating a personal symbolism for each individual.
For that reason, we will briefly nudge into the representation of white in different cultures before jumping into its psychological meanings.
- In Western cultures, white symbolizes purity, peace, cleanliness, and virginity, which is why brides usually wear a white dress on their wedding day.
- In Eastern cultures, white symbolizes mourning, the passage to a new life, and bad luck.
- In India, widows are traditionally only allowed to wear white.
- In Brazil, it represents peace and purity and is traditionally worn on New Year’s Eve.
- In Peru, white is related to good health and angels.
What Does the Color White Mean in the Bible?
Colors are used throughout the Bible to convey meanings, and white is used usually associated with innocence, honesty, purity, and redemption of sins.
Psychological Meanings of White
White contains all wavelengths of visible light. It is a blending of all colors of the spectrum, carrying both the positive and negative traits of all of them.
With its bright aura, white is the perfect balance of all colors, making it impartial and neutral.
In essence, it symbolizes new beginnings a blank page of a notebook that waits to be written upon.
White represents new beginnings
Color White Meaning
As we touched on earlier, white is the color used in funerals, especially in cultures that believe people begin a new journey after passing away. White is the color of reincarnation, of rebirth.
In the same breath, white is the color used in many cultures on New Year’s Eve to mark the beginning of a new and prosperous year. It’s the completion of a cycle with the beginning of a new one.
Un red, white isn’t stimulating to the senses. Yet, it opens the path for creations and the new. It is a color that enhances the awakening of the soul.
In the meaning of the colors, white is related to light, goodness, innocence, and softness. For instance, angels are often depicted in white.
Also, each baby is born getting white in its purest form. Still, life events, experiences, and social relationships will paint this new life with other colors.
White, black, can work well with just about any color of the spectrum.
In business, the color white is associated with the healthcare industry to communicate cleanliness and safety.
Most hospitals, pharmacies, medical centers, and laboratories have white as their primary color, either in the rooms and in uniforms.
In graphic design, white is often used as a neutral backdrop or negative space to convey coolness and cleanliness. It suggests simplicity in high-tech products, heavily used in minimalist designs.
Because white is particularly efficient in increasing our sense of organization, it helps declutter our designs, and our homes – white gives a heightened perception of space.
So if you live in a small apartment, painting walls in shades of white might make your rooms appear more spacious than they actually are.
The color white is also associated with understanding, faith, sincerity, simplicity, and delicacy.
White is the color of protection, offering a sense of peace and calm, aiding in our inner cleansing.
With its bright aura, the color white purifies and clarifies those in the throes.
While black is the absorption of light, white is the exact opposite of it – it is the reflection of light. It offers the ultimate illumination to those who can’t see their path.
In keeping with symbolism, the highest-ranking Catholic official, the pope, is the only one who can wear a white cassock.
The reason for that is white symbolizes perfection because it is the purest and most complete color.
After all, lucky white. As opposed to black, white usually has a positive connotation in many societies. For instance, it often represents a good character in the cinema as the color doesn’t threaten or endanger.
But every other color, white also has negative traits. It conveys unfriendliness, emptiness, and coldness.
Given that white provides little stimulation of the senses, white makes a place look sterile, bland, and unimaginative when overused.
White walls make small spaces appear larger than they really are
Physical Effects of White
Just every color has physical effects on us, white is a color of renewal. It provides clarity and declutters our minds:
- Renovation – It promotes feelings of fresh beginnings and renewal, assisting in cleansing and encouraging the purification of thoughts and actions.
- Organization – It increases the sense of sophistication, cleanness, and order.
- Calm the mind – It has calming properties that soothe hurt souls. It evokes moods of quietness and concentration.
- Clarify – It refreshes and purifies the mind, offering clarity.
Personality Color White
White has the highest equality standards as it combines equal amounts of every color of the spectrum.
If white is your favorite color, then you might have the personality color white.
Meanings of White Shades
White has no pure shades because the color is a combination of all others. Yet, these are some (unpure) shades of white:
Ivory: It represents the pureness of white with the added warmth of yellow.
Beige: It has the warmth and down-to-earth traits of brown and the light crispness of white. It is a relaxing and dependable color.
Pewter: This color retains the seriousness and neutrality of gray.
More Shades of White
Shades of white
Here are some more shades of white: Pearl, snow, ivory, cream, eggshell, cotton, chiffon, salt, lace, coconut, daisy, porcelain, rice, baby powder, frost, ghost, floral, antique white, chalk, milk, linen, ghost white, lily, alabaster.
Most Common Uses of White
The color white is mostly used to promote high-end technology and health-related products – always balanced out with another color.
It is also used in hospitals, medical centers, and pharmacies because it is a healing color.
Companies and Brands That Use White in Their Logo
Many brands use white in their logo as negative space or for the font. Some of these companies are Starbucks, Levi’s, Ford, Volkswagen, Lego, Hewlett Packard, Gap, Michelin, WWF, and Uber.
Many people believe white gemstones help with new beginnings, nurture self-care, increase purification, and awaken consciousness to higher states.
Facts About White
- White is the lightest color and is achromatic (having no hue).
- White is not among adult’s most favorite colors. However, it is, by far, most adult’s favorite color when it comes to physical environments.
- Off-white is an umbrella term for a variety of shades that differ only slightly from pure white, such as ivory, cream, and old lace.
- White cars are the safest ones because of the color’s high visibility index.
Quotes About White
Women think of all colors except the absence of color. I have said that black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is perfect harmony.
She knew then that white was more than a color: It was a cold, pale shade of understanding that seems to take all of your hope away.
Life starts from a white hole and ends in a black hole.
The color white is a blank canvas, just waiting to be written on. Compared to other more stimulating colors, it is a refreshing change, a soothing and calm visual experience for the mind, which allows for imagination growth and creativity.
Is there anything whiter than winter snow?
Laiah Gifty Akita
Popular Idioms With the Word White
- White as snow: Something that is very white in color.
- White knuckle: The quality of feeling extreme excitement or fear.
- Whitelist: List of trustworthy people or email addresses in internet terminology.
- White as a ghost: When someone is very shocked at something they saw or happened.
- Whiteout: A weather condition in which the snow-covered country’s features and horizon are indistinguishable due to uniform light diffusion.
- White flag: It is a symbol of truce.
- White elephant: A possession that is useless or troublesome, especially one that is expensive to maintain.
Summary Color White Meaning
As the purest of all colors, white is a serene and calming hue that symbolizes new beginnings.
It marks a new cycle and declutters our minds bringing clarity to solve problems.
In essence, white is a blank page of a notebook that waits to be written upon.
More often than not, white is considered a positive color that instills goodness.
However, it can be perceived as cold, bland, and unfriendly.
As a virtuous color, white is uplifting, offering mood quietness and mental organization.
White means: purity, virtue, innocence, delicate
Effects of white: calms, balances, purifies, brings clarity
Positive traits: cleanliness, elegance, simplicity, goodness
Negative traits: bland, unfriendliness, emptiness, coldness
The Psychology of Design: The “Color” White in Marketing & Branding
Much has been written about the importance of color in the marketing world. At IMPACT, we even have a series of articles just about color.
So where does white fit in? That’s tricky.
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First of all, is white really a color? According to Merriam-Webster, white is “free from color.” White reflects and scatters all the visible wavelengths of light.
Hmm. So it’s the absence of color?
White does not get the fanfare that the blues, reds, and greens get. (Sheesh! What a bunch of smug colors…with their tones, hues and whatnot.) However, I would say that white is just as important — if not more important — than the colors on the color wheel, especially when it comes to design.
(By the way, tones and hues can’t exist without white. Without white, there would be no pink.)
White helps to establish contrast for all the other colors. There is no better background for a color to stand out. And vice versa. There is no better color than white to stand out on a color.
How the color white is perceived in today's world
In the West, white is typically associated with purity, innocence, and completion. It is considered to be the color of perfection. When depicting good vs evil, we all know what color represents goodness.
White is a big part of our daily lives and has worked itself into our culture. Brides wear white for their weddings. Doctors wear white to see patients. Traditionally, infants wear white on their christening day.
White offers a sense of peace and calm, hope and comfort. It creates a sense of order and efficiency. It’s clean.
However, too much white can be perceived as cold and sterile. Think futuristic sci-fi movies or stark modern homes with uncomfortable looking chairs.
The key to using white in the design world is to be extremely deliberate and specific, and to use it only when and where it’s appropriate.
«White… is not a mere absence of colour; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black… God paints in many colours; but He never paints so gorgeously, I had almost said so gaudily, as when He paints in white.»
—Gilbert K. Chesterton (English writer, and philosopher)
What white means for me as a website designer
“White” as a color is hard to talk about without talking about “white space” or “negative space.” Negative space doesn’t have to be “white,” but it is for this article's purpose.
White space is the space between elements in a composition.
As a designer, white space is how every project starts. It’s the blank slate. It’s my untitled document. It’s the promise of things to come.
White can be intimidating. It’s sometimes the never-ending expanse of possibility that can prevent people from moving forward.
However, I’m giddy when I open a blank document. There are so many possibilities and opportunities. It doesn’t come to life until I start putting my ideas on it.
I to think of white space as the supporting actor in any design. Without white space, all other design elements would not shine through. It helps direct the eye where it should go, enabling elements to stand out to ensure a quality user experience. White’s the silent hero.
How white space can be perceived negatively
Sometimes it’s difficult as a designer to convince a client that white space is necessary in a design. Some clients feel that white space equals empty space, meaning a lost opportunity for content. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
It’s not necessary to cram information in every square inch of a design. Not only is an overall design more legible with properly used white space, but it’s also more refined looking. A design needs to breathe.
Here are a couple of websites that could stand to breathe a little more. Some of the text is unreadable because white space wasn’t taken into consideration.
«Passive white space» vs. «active white space»
According to the Interactive Design Foundation,
Active white space is the white space used to enhance page structure and help guide the user through the page’s content.
Passive white space is applied to improve the aesthetics of the layout without guiding the user through a specific reading, flow, or content order.
For example, the white space between font glyphs and paragraph lines functions in this way.
What to consider when designing with white space
It’s not rocket science, but it’s not typically thought about outside the design bubble. The more white around design elements, the more legible they are. Changing the white space layout affects readability and overall user experience on a page.
White space will set the tone for the overall design. A design that has a healthy amount can give a classic, elegant, or rich appearance to a page. More publication- or education-based websites may have less white space to fit more informational text. That’s okay.
This is a similar theory as legibility. If you want to give priority to a specific design element, such as a CTA, play with the amount of white space around those focal points. It will drastically change the focus of the page.
How successful websites use white (space)
There’s a reason why more and more companies are catching on to the idea that their website should have plenty of white space and not feel jam-packed. Because it works. White space helps focus the eye where you want people to look. There’s no ambiguity.
Obviously this won’t work for every company, but here are five examples of how well it works.
- Zenefits is using a health dose of white space throughout its website for text and design elements to stand out. But, it's also using white as a design element to overlay its logo on a photo. As you scroll through the website you can’t help but to be happy because of how clean it is.
- Workable. When you first visit this website, you might think the illustrations on the right or the animation on the left are the stars of the show. That’s understandable. But what’s directing your eye down the page? Without all that negative space, the design elements wouldn’t stand out so well. Also, the white space is an essential player in the narrative. The fact that the woman in yellow being hired is underscored by the white — she is entering the workspace, being welcomed by the man in the blazer who is in between, a sort of gatekeeper to the bright, social, collaborative office world within.
- Curalate. If you’re me, the first thing you see when you visit this website is “Make social sell.” Do you think that’s what the company wants you to see first? Because of the abundance of white space around it, you can’t help but see the main message first.
- Not only does Native's packaging rely on white to give its brand a unique clean look, but its website does the same thing. For the most part, the website sticks to the brand, having white and blue as the only colors. And it works!
- Impossible Foods uses white very well throughout its website. All the design elements have enough breathing room to make the messages clear. Even the hero that has big bold photos, utilizes big chunky white text that’s still readable.
I have a challenge for you.
The next time you’re visiting a website or looking at anything that’s been touched by a designer, look at how much white they used. Explore the passive versus active white space. Don’t just focus on the text and design elements.
This doesn’t just pertain to a website user experience, though. Using white and white space should be a part of a strategy for all marketers and businesses. Remember, the more white space around a focal point, the more ly that focal point will be seen.
Don’t clutter. And appreciate the beauty of the (lack of) color used.
Also, I leave you with this very fun, very old video about the dangers of not embracing white space.