The Impact of Color – In Graphic Design…and Life

Color is everywhere, you can’t escape it – would you really want to? I love color, if you would look in my closet you would see an array of colors. However, I do have certain colors, a color palette, that I really like and wear often. Colors are not only important in clothing but in design as well. There are a lot of emotional and psychological impacts on all levels that are caused by different colors.

Certain colors will raise your blood pressure, increase your breathing and pulse rate, give you a shot of adrenaline, or give your goosebumps. Color influences every level, from the brand logo, image, signage, website, print materials, products, packaging, and so much more. According to Leatrice Eiseman, director of the Eiseman Center for Color Information and Training, executive director of the Carlstadt, NJ-based Pantone Color Institute, and author of the Pantone Guide to Communicating With Color and Colors for Your Every Mood,

“60 to 70 percent of the buying decision is made at the point of purchase. With so many products vying for the consumer’s money and attention, the effective use of color is one way to capture their attention. Consumers are in an emotional mode when they shop. And when they are in an emotional mode, they are more visually attuned.”

Warm Colors

  • Red for example is exciting, passionate, provocative, and dynamic. It is an aggressive color that commands attention and demands action. The sexiest of all colors, red is equally seductive in the marketplace.
  • Pink, depending on its intensity can be romantic, youthful, happy, and sweet. It is seen as sweet and healthy (pink cheeks). Different pinks (fuchsia, magenta, hot pink, bubble-gum pink) will give different emotions and thoughts. For example, if you have a younger audience go for a lighter (younger) pink.
  • Orange is the hottest color – temperature wise. It is a glowing color that is associated with autumn foliage or radiant sunsets. It can be playful, expressive, and childlike when it has a high intensity.
  • Yellow, when its intensity is a warm and sunny lends itself to splendor and the sun. Optimistic, creative, imaginative, positive – yellow gives a feeling of well-being. If in a lighter intensity it can be seen as cheerful and soft to touch. Most associated with foods – bananas, lemons, vanilla ice cream etc.
  • Brown is associated with nature, comforting, rustic, sheltering, stability, and earth. A very earthly color that generally gets a positive response. But browns can also be known as dirty – which could be a bad thing depending on the context.

Cool Colors

  • Blue is constant, quiet, dependable, committed. Did you know that the color blue is an unappetizing color? I’ve heard that if you want to loose weight, put a blue light bulb in your frig and eat off of blue plates. Depending on the blue it also calms the mind or stimulates thoughts. It can also feel cold and not very friendly. Keep an eye on the intensity of the blue to keep it from being too cold.
  • Green – soothing, healing, nature, refreshing, earth. Deep green is trustworthy, yellow-greens lend themselves to gardening, blue-greens give a pleasant response, and bight greens work well with kids and pre-teens. Did you know that blue green is most used in hospitals – it is a soothing color.
  • Purple, a complex color that is regal, elegant, spiritual, and mysterious. It has many meanings depending on culture. Did you know that purple is the hardest color for the eye to discern?

Neutrals, White, and Black

  • Neutrals are timeless, natural, classic, and quiet. They send a message of dependability and durability. Regarded as safe and non-offensive, neutrals will not date anything because they will always be in style.
  • White – lightweight, pure, simple, bright, innocent. Seen as a brilliant color it works well for contrast and catches the eye.
  • Black is powerful, strong, classic, and elegant that lends an air of mystery. A heavy color that feels solid and durable. Not necessarily trustworthy.

Carefully consideration needs to go into your color palette for your brand. It is critical as you move forward with the implementation of your logo, brand identity, packaging, print materials, website, and everything having to do with your company.