Of all the different elements that go into print marketing materials, color is probably the least understood. Knowing about the psychology of color can help you use it more effectively in all your marketing materials. Colors have a strong emotional impact on human beings. The key is knowing what emotions each color evokes, and understanding which colors complement rather than clashing.
Some color meanings are deeply rooted in our brains through evolution, such as red (the color of fire) being associated with warmth and power, or green being associated with nature and growth. Other colors develop cultural meaning over time, and can differ widely from one culture to another. For example, the notion of pink as a color for girls and blue as a color for boys in Western cultures is a fairly recent development.
Perhaps the most important part about color is how it influences behavior. When used properly in marketing materials, colors have the ability to engage people and motivate them to take action.
The 6 C’s of brand color selection
Selecting the color(s) to represent your brand requires evaluating many different design elements. The six C’s can help ensure that the colors you choose reflect your brand personality and resonate with your target audience.
- Context. How do you plan to use the colors? Where and how will they show up in your marketing materials?
- Competition. How will your colors relate and compare
to competing brands?
- Culture. What meaning does each color have
within our society’s culture?
- Contrast. Which colors that appeal to your target
market work best together? (Using a color wheel can help with this one.)
- Color gamut. Some colors can be very difficult to replicate, which means they can show up differently depending on how they are printed.
- Company. The colors used for marketing should represent the personality of the organization they are branding.
Matching colors with the feelings they evoke
Humans associate specific feelings with the different colors on the spectrum. These associations can vary by location and culture. In Western society, we tend to associate the following:
- Blue – dependability and strength
- Green – nature, peace and health
- Grey – neutral and calm
- Orange – good cheer and confidence
- Purple – royalty, ambition and power
- Red – boldness and youth
- Yellow – optimism and warmth
Learn more about colors and they feelings they evoke.
4 current color trends to try out
Four color trends that are currently all the rage in logo and graphic design include:
Rather than a single color, this trend refers to using bright, vivid colors to capture attention and make a powerful visual statement. For example, hot pinks, rich purples, and deep blues are currently dominating brands that target millennial women.
Vivid colors can give graphic designs a futuristic feel that will have your target audience feeling like your brand is modern and fresh – hence the appeal to younger demographics. If you decide to use vivids, be sure to strongly contrast foreground and background elements to make sure they are easy to see and read.
Chosen as Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2019, coral has taken the fashion, graphic design, and branding worlds by storm. Coral is louder than pink but doesn’t have quite the impact of red. This gives a feeling of boldness and youth tempered by a sense of human interaction and social connection – qualities appreciated by many people in today’s digital world.
Lime green is part of a color group referred to as “earthy.” These colors tend to link us to the calm and serenity of nature. In particular, lime green is associated with nature, confidence and high energy. It also promotes feelings of liveliness, freshness, and creativity. Based on data from billions of image searches on their site, Shutterstock – which provides stock images, photos, and videos for use in creative projects – currently ranks lime green as the most commonly searched-for color in the U.S.
As a color, gold never goes out of style, but it’s popularity can wax and wane. In 2019, it’s status is definitely waxing. An enduring color, it represents luxury, success, achievement, and triumph, and is closely associated with royalty, wealth, and upper class. Recent improvements in print technology have put gold back in the forefront by making it easier to capture the richness and opulence of the color in all types of print projects.
Gold also works well as a secondary color. Adding gold accents to your designs will give them a sense of luxury and opulence. A brighter gold will catch your audience’s eye; a darker shade of gold will lend a sense of warmth richness to your designs. Gold also works well with a nature-inspired palette of green, orange, brown, or even coral.