Whenever you see colour, think!

SINCE PAINT was discovered, people have been drawn to colour. The brilliant orange of the setting sun inspires even the most prosaic to get eloquent while the verdant green of rain washed fields soothes both the spirit and eye.

Why do we get drawn to certain colours? Why do colours have such a powerful effect on us? Each colour has a meaning and influence on us, and we choose the colours to suit our personality. You would be surprised as to how the colour of your personality and the colours in our wardrobes correlate.

We are what we wear.

Research conducted around the world shows that there are three colour personality types in the world - colour leaders, colour moderates and colour neutrals. Understanding the characteristics of colour personalities is the first step of mastering the language of colour. Using this one can understand how colours can be used to influence people.

Colour leaders are people always willing to welcome new colours into their surroundings and can be recognised as the one wearing a suit in the latest colour that season. There must be modern furniture and decor inside the leader's house and such people have to have the best in everything. From the point of view of psychology colour leaders have very high self-esteem, inclined to adventure and are not scared of new ideas. Youngsters who are generally seen experimenting with the wildest hair colours or radical outfits fall under this category.

If you are a colour moderate, don't worry. So is half the world's population. Moderates tend to go for proven trends and combine new colours with traditional ones. Usually practical and well-informed people, they want the changes to be functional and useful over a long period of time. On the other hand, the only way to make a neutral change his or her favourite colour is to put a gun against his or her head.

These people have determined their own likes and dislikes long ago, and adhere to their own style. If their favourite blue blazer has been worn out, they will go and buy a new one but of the same blue colour again. They are faithful and loyal adherents to things they like and very rarely change their tastes.

Among colours, red is associated with vibrancy and causes the most intensive psychological reactions. It attracts attention and is connected with strong human emotions like love, sensuality and rage. Being a `warm' colour, red was often used in ancient Egypt during festivals to mark important ceremonies. In nature, red is the colour of abundance, tomatoes and cherries, rubies and garnets, the colour of blood, of religious sacrifices, of fire and the heart. The red planet was named Mars after the God of war. Red is a strong colour that leaves nobody indifferent.

Whenever you see colour, think!

Pink is a mixture of red and white and is perceived as gentle, soft, charming and feminine. This shows that the addition of a neutral colour can change the meaning of the colour signal dramatically. Pink is the universal romantic colour and is used quite extensively in undergarments.

Orange is a warm colour that is associated with spice and enthusiasm. Like spices, used in small amounts it arouses thoughts of fun and sun. Shades of orange like peach are associated with freshness and natural health.

Yellow is of the brightest colours in the spectrum and attracts instant attention. Warning signs, school buses and taxis favour this colour. Being a naturally optimistic colour, yellow gives a signal of new things, hospitality, comfort and fun. In Nature, yellow is the colour of everything nice like lemons, corn, saffron, wheat, butter and cream. However, yellow is also associated with cowardice and unscrupulous behaviour. Use it sparingly as a colour accent to get the best results. Cream and beige, hues of yellow are among the safest colours to use.

Green has a variety of hues and each arouse various responses. Dark and neutral hues of green - the colour of fir needles and hard wood - are associated with solidity, reliability and durability. Gentle hues of sage, moss and copper patina soothe.

Emerald and malachite speaks about wealth. Everyone has experienced luxurious gardens and flamboyant flowers, surrounded by green of various hues. This yellow-green usually creates the sense of prosperity, optimism and spring renovation. No wonder that this colour is often connected with fertility. Green is also associated with envy, illness and poison.

Blue is a very popular colour as it can be comfortable and soothing. The most enduring image is perhaps of the ever-present blue jeans. On the other hand blue is considered to be business-like, professional and authoritative and is a favourite with business people. We perceive the blue sky as glorious and blue sea - soothing and pleasing. Turquoise and sapphire shades are considered bold. However for some, blue is the colour of passiveness and melancholy.

Whenever you see colour, think!

So now you must have decided that to create a good impression on people you need to choose those colours that send out positive signals. You are right...partly. Sometimes people feel better with those who dress differently, yet meet their expectations.

For example, if you are going to pitch for the advertising campaign of a manufacturing firm, even if the directors are typical colour neutral they will feel reassured if your choice of colours are adventurous.

On the other hand, selling stock to pensioners will entail wearing conservative, sober colours. However always rely on your consciousness and choose those colours that appeal to your palette. With a certain flexibility and ability to perceive situations imaginatively, the world will be yours for the taking. So what's your signal today?