Probably the biggest influence on effective design is color.
How you choose colors, and apply them, can quite literally make or break a design.
And in design, we’re trying to communicate a message — it’s visual communication at work.
But how do you figure out how to craft the perfect color palette?
So often I get clients that want to use colors that they like, and not what they think their audience and customers will like.
When it comes to design, it is not about what you like — this choice is not going to be effective in helping you convey your message or brand.
Instead, you need to consider the psychology of color, along with a couple other factors.
Psychology of color
Each color in the color wheel evokes certain emotions and feelings, and you should highly consider these when creating your brand or design.
Here’s the breakdown on each color and examples of how they’re used:
Red: Bold, Exciting, Passionate
Red is a very strong color, and if used properly, can really help your brand stand out.
There’s a reason why you see so many big brands use red — Target, Coca-Cola, McDonalds….the list goes on.
Red can convey many different feelings — it can represent anger, but it can also symbolize an item is “on sale” or discounted.
How red is applied should be carefully considered.
Complimentary color: Green
Blue: Cool, Calm, Trusting
Contrary to red, blue is much more calming. It gives a sense of relaxation, trust and strength.
You’ll find a lot of tech brands use blue like Dell, IBM and Facebook — and for good reason.
Blue is a very commonly liked color, and using this in your brand can help piggyback on that likability and trust.
Complimentary color: Orange
Yellow: Optimism, Happiness, Energy
The final color that makes up the primary colors is yellow — and yellow provides a true sense of joy and optimism. It’s brightness makes you feel instantly happy.
With branding, yellow is very eye-catching, and you’ll find this as a dominant color in brands like Shell, Hertz, and McDonalds.
Utilize yellow in your palette if you want to give a sense of energy and optimism.
Complimentary color: Purple
Orange: Friendly, Confident, Warmth
Now, when looking at orange in branding, it can vary in terms of emotions and feelings.
Orange can vary in terms of tints and shades (as can any color), but a warmer orange (like autumn shades) will make you feel at home, and warm — but a bright orange can feel friendly and confident.
Companies like Home Depot, Amazon, and Dunkin’ use orange to make them feel inviting and welcoming.
Complimentary color: Blue
Purple: Power, Wisdom, Luxury
Purple is a very strong hue, much like red except it conveys royalty and luxury.
It is not quite as common to see purple used in many big-name brands, but Taco Bell and Yahoo! are two that come to mind.
Now, Taco Bell isn’t quite luxury (even though I consider it 😄), but the feeling of power and also individuality it brings in the fast food realm.
Complimentary color: Yellow
Green: Health, Growth, Peace
The final color we’ll look at it is green — a very dominant color in large brands that exudes a feeling of peace and nature.
Animal Planet, John Deere, Starbucks, and BP are just a few businesses that utilize green to their advantage.
It’s a commonly used color for a reason — as it attracts customers and symbolizes tranquility and a feeling of balance.
Consider the Industry
Besides the psychology of color and what emotions they evoke, you should also look closely at your industry.
You may notice trends — such as green in landscape, outdoors and eco businesses; or red in retail and products.
There’s a reason that many successful big brands use specific colors — so if you’re aiming to be “different” I would think twice about it and focus on who you want to attract, and the future growth of your business.
Combine the psychology and industry, and pair that with your vision and style, and you’ll be able to create a unique color palette to you that will resonate with the right audience.
See you next time,