Do you know how to best use color in your signage?
Updated: Jun 8
There are a lot of psychological studies behind colors in marketing. Colors impact how we think, how we behave, and our emotions. Color also helps guide our eyes. So what are the findings behind each color?
The color that catches the eye first is yellow. It is considered a cheerful color and has many happy connotations with it. However, if you have too much yellow it can quickly become an eyesore and be considered annoying. Because many popular less expensive brands use yellow, it can sometimes be connoted as a cheap color. It is best to use yellow in small amounts or to use softer tints of the hue.
Red is the second most noticeable color, which is why stop signs are red. Red evokes symbolizes power, strength, aggression, and boldness. Red can promote appetite. Because red can promote hunger, many food brands have red, including Coca-Cola, Kit Kat, and KFC. Overall, red encourages powerful emotions
Orange is a fun and warm color that tends to motivate people. Orange brings emotions such as excitement and enthusiasm. It is also considered a social color, meaning people feel more encouraged to socialize around the color orange. If your company is targeting a younger demographic, they are known to respond well to orange.
There is a reason why conservatives and many companies have chosen blue as their brand color. Blue conveys trust and dependability. People connotate blue with responsibility and reliability. Blue is a soothing color that is easy on the eyes, like the ocean.
Green is connoted with growth, nature, balance, and health. This is why many health food brands, fitness classes, and eco-friendly companies use the color green. Green is your color if you are wanting to portray growth, health, nature, and rest.
For thousands of years, purple has been a color of luxury and power. This is because it was hard to come by and very expensive. In the past, the purple dye came from a small mollusk only found in one region of the Mediterranean sea. Purple now is a color that often represents luxury, spirituality, mystery, magic, courage, and imagination.
Pink is a compassionate and caring color. In most forms it is soothing. However hot pink is sometimes interpreted as eccentric and wild. Watch out though because if too much pink is used it can be seen as immature and powerless.
As far as colors go, brown is not a very stimulating color. In fact, it is often disliked, mainly by women. However, Brown does a really good job portraying structure, security, and protection. It is a serious, down to earth color, and can be a good option for if you do not want to use black.
Gold exudes charm, confidence, wealth, luxury, and abundance. Be careful when using gold because too much gold can seem egotistical and give people a sour taste in their mouths. Instead of having gold be your main color, try using it to highlight and accent your signage.
Black shows sophistication, seriousness, control, and independence. Because black is a popular color for fashion logos, including Chanel and Louis Vuitton, it is connotated with high quality. If too much black is used it can come off as evil, negative, or depressing. It is best to use black sparingly or as the text rather than visuals.
White connotes newness, purity, innocence, cleanliness, and peace. White creates a simple and clean space for idea creation. However, avoid using too much white as it can resemble an insane asylum, causing emotions such as isolation, loneliness, and emptiness to arise.
Certain color combinations can either be soothing or an eyesore. Certain color combinations have been found to promote different types of responses as well. It has been found that bright colors tend to promote more active or strength-related activities. On the other hand, visual and mental activities were better promoted by softer and deeper colors. So how do you find the best combination to promote and portray your company?
It is best to have 2-4 colors in your color scheme. There are many different types of color schemes, and the best way to read this part is with a color wheel in front of you.
In a split complementary color scheme you want to choose one color as your base color then look at the opposite color and choose the two colors beside it. For example, if I chose blue as my base color, then pink and orange would be the two adjacent colors.
Analogous color schemes are colors that are beside each other on the color wheel like red, orange, and yellow. Because the colors are often similar in analogous color schemes make sure you choose a high contrasting color so that your important information stands out.
A monochromatic color scheme uses one color and plays with its different tints, tones, and shades. Monochromatic colors are quite aesthetically please, but, like an analogous color scheme, needs to be paired with a single complementary but contrasting color.
Contrast is what causes colors to stand out. The best way to check color contrast is to turn your file into grayscale so you can see truly how different the tones and hues are. Although high contrast can be less aesthetically pleasing, it makes signage easier to read. That is one reason why we read black text on a white page. Nobody wants an ugly sign though, so it is best to find a balance with an aesthetically pleasing color pallet that also includes contrasting colors. The contrasting color will be more quickly noticeable to the eye so use it on the things you want your viewers to see first and remember, the most important things (your business name, website, “Free”, etc).
Contrast can also help with those who experience different forms of colorblindness. The combination of green and red is commonly found to be a problem for those that are affected by colorblindness. By having high contrast colors, it will make sure that your visuals are protected against colorblindness.
Although these are the overall findings for how to use color in your marketing, it can also depend on the demographics that you are targeting. For example, red is a lucky color in China, or younger demographics respond better to orange than older demographics. We hope this helps you decide on what colors to use to get the best results from your signage.