Colour is a power which directly influences the soul

Wassily Kandinsky

04. 12. 18 John Chapman

Colour Theory in Business Intelligence


Traditional reporting was row and column based. Spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel allow for graphical reporting. Business Intelligence tools can take the information stored in a data warehouse and from it create multi-dimensional, pictorial representations. Yet what are we trying to achieve? Is it information for information’s sake?

The purpose

The purpose is to provide information in a format that can be easily understood by all who need to evaluate it, in a clear way that leaves little room for ambiguity. You want the information to elicit a response, to provoke a reaction, to stimulate a change in behaviour. Yet to get the attention of the reader it will need to generate a mood, a feeling. This is where colours are there to help us. For colours are associated with moods and feelings.[1].

According to the Colour Theory image above, the meanings of colour are:

Red: Love, blood, fire, energy, strong, intense.

Purple: Power, wealth, ambition, noble, royalty.

Blue: Sea trust, sky, stability, tranquil, depth.

Green: Freshness, nature, money, growth, safety.

Yellow: Energy, sunshine, bright, cheerful, joy.

Orange: Warm, happiness, success, autumn, creative.


When preparing your next set of data analysis, remember the use of colour is as important as the content. We are all familiar with the use of “traffic light” colours; green for good, red representing bad, but the use of other colours can help to enhance the impact your data could have. Do you want to symbolize trust and loyalty, show blue, alternatively to show something that has ambition or gravitas show purple or black. The psychology of colour and its usage is as important as the content.

[1] For a discussion on colour theory see

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John Chapman

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John Chapman