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We know that color is created somewhere inside the brain. We actually construct color based on environmental prompts, but colors aren’t real physical properties of the object we’re looking at. Color only exists in our heads. Without our observation, there is an absence of color.

Because the experience of color is a personal event that goes on within our brains, color preference is also individualistic and often based upon emotion. We’re used to equating dark colors with negativity and bright colors with optimism. But this isn’t always the case. We’re taught throughout life what colors “means” by social reinforcement. When we’re little, pink is for girls and blue is for boys. It’s a rule.

We use emotion based color reinforcements in speech as well, like someone noticing you’re in a dark mood, or that we’re feeling blue to denote negativity. Or that we see life through rose colored glasses or that we’re going to paint the town red to denote positivity. There are plenty of exceptions though. For instance the statement, I saw red, is typically associated with extreme anger.

Colors and the emotional meanings behind them are truly subjective. Choosing a color to signify group identity can be based on emotion or practicality. The U.S. Army historically outfitted soldiers in fatigue green to camouflage them in hostile outdoor environments, a very practical decision. Pink for breast cancer awareness denotes femininity, but some antagonists argue that since pink reminds us of sugar and spice and everything nice, pink is a terrible color for this cause.

After understanding all of this, making a decision on what color t-shirt to use for your promotional event or business needs might seem a little more complex. Color is known to affect our buying habits, our level of trust, and even how we perceive competency.

For every test that says green is the color of movement, nature, and peace and that it should outperform another color to achieve a desired outcome, you’ll find tests that show the opposite. Why? Because color and the emotion associated with it is subjective. You can even go further and say it’s subjective and contextual. Just ask how people feel about the BP logo after the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

For us, t-shirts and the science of color is also subjective. But we see color through the lens of screen printers. We ask ourselves if the colors work well together and are they pleasing? We also evaluate whether the color combinations are going to result in a problematic print. For example, red dye used to colorize a t-shirt during the manufacturing process might seep into a white ink print. Finally, we evaluate t-shirt colors from an economical view point. Not all t-shirt colors cost the same to manufacture or cost the same to apply a screen print.

If you need help traversing the multifaceted journey of choosing the “right” t-shirt color for your design, event, or business needs, please reach out to our expert team.

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