Karen Haller is one of the UK’s leading authorities in applied colour psychology, specialising in business branding and business interiors.
In this Q&A, she provides an overview of her work, and some tips on how colour, and the psychological effect it has on people, can affect a business and ultimately, sales or profits.
Firstly, a quick introduction to the psychology of colour – to what extent does the colour of a space affect the way we feel?
Colour has an effect on our mind, body and emotions. It affects our moods and can influence our behaviours and our physical and mental well-being. This will usually be happening on an unconscious level.
Why would this be important in hospitality environments such as hotels, restaurants or bars?
One of the main factors in deciding on where to go for a meal, a drink or somewhere to stay will be on how we want to feel, for example uplifted, relaxing, peace and quiet or playful. Colour triggers emotional responses.
The last thing a business would want to be doing unconsciously is using colour and combinations of colour that result in giving their customers an experience that ends up driving them away.
A successful business will have a clearly defined brand personality. There will be colours, and more importantly tones of colours, along with a design style, that projects the brand personality and in turn will attract the right type of clientele. They will know exactly how they will feel and the level of service they will receive. You wouldn’t expect to walk into an elegant, refined, high end establishment such as The Ritz to see it designed using hip funky colours and wacky furniture with waiters on roller skates.
– the refined lobby of Claridge’s
I’m sure that has a large bearing on how a customer feels (and spends!) in a hospitality industry environment?
This could make or break them. Not being clear on who they are (the brand personality), on the level of service they offer and being able to clearly and consistently show this whether it be their interiors, standard of service, their website through to their marketing literature.
Confuse the customer as to what service is on offer, or trying to be everything to everyone, and they’ll just stay away.
Is there a typical colour scheme for a restaurant, or does it vary according to what the space is trying to achieve?
This is down to the personality of the restaurant. For example, are they aimed at children, a traditional ‘gentleman’s club’, elegant fine dining or maybe minimalist, cutting edge. Each has a clear personality aimed at a different clientele and the colours and design would reflect this.
–the blue ceiling in this American diner would not be recommended to stimulate hungry customers