How To Understand Color Theory in Graphic Design
Successful utilization of color theory in your branding strategy affects how well your content resonates with your audience on a conscious and subconscious level. While green may be your favorite color as a person, it might not convey the right message for your brand.
Throughout history, in branding, marketing, sales, and many other sectors, people have used colors to influence decisions and create connections between the colors we see and how we perceive them. For example, the color red generates a sense of urgency, hence why we see red on stop signs and sale tags.
Your brand can utilize color theory to shine through the massive sea of content online and reach its target consumers. After all, people publish an estimated 7.5 million blog posts and 100 million Instagram posts every day, so your brand only has a few seconds to capture a viewer’s attention.
Color speaks louder than words. Keep reading to learn how to understand color theory and what each color conveys.
Yellow in Color Theory
Yellow is a happy color that promotes clarity and movement. It gets you where you want to go and helps you feel optimistic about the journey. For example, many logistical companies, like UPS, DHL, Shell, CAT, and Hertz, use yellow to represent forward movement.
Other businesses use yellow to convey a metaphorical journey. For instance, BUMBLE uses yellow and white to represent the friends-to-lovers journey. Ikea provides an easy roadmap for building furniture, and its yellow and blue logo (which, according to science, is the easiest color combination to read) compliments its mission.
Orange in Color Theory
Orange is a wild color that triggers a desire to do things together or create. Friendly, youthful, and exciting companies like Nickelodeon, Crush, SoundCloud, Etsy, or Home Depot heavily rely on orange in their branding.
Darker shades of orange communicate coziness and earthiness. Many minimalist brands and blogs integrate these shades to complete neutral and natural color palettes.
Red in Color Theory
Red is a bold color of passion. Studies show that looking at red corresponds to an increased heart rate and evokes strong emotions and a sense of urgency and appetite.
Red is usually used to trigger impulse buys and clicks online or clicks and purchases in person. Major companies that use red include Netflix, Canon, CNN, Coca-Cola, Nintendo, and most fast-food restaurants.
Purple in Color Theory
Purple is an imaginative color that allows the mind to wander, and explore new paths, ideas, and guilty pleasures. Companies that use purple include SyFy channel, WONKA, Taco Bell, Milka, and Hallmark.
Blue in Color Theory
The big blue is all about business. Blue is the color of reason, strength, wisdom, and trust. Blue is an accessible color that works for most industries and eludes permanence. Notable companies that use blue are IBM, HP, DELL, Pfizer, Vimeo, Facebook, Intel, and Ford. Pair blue with white for a clean, impactful use of contrast.
Green in Color Theory
Green has many shades that communicate different messages. Deep shades of green channel growth and power. Army green is used in the military and for many other brands that want to convey strength. The shades of green on our money are often seen in branding for financial brands. Natural shades of green elude peace and nature. Companies like John Deere, BP Oil, and Landrover may use green in their branding to subconsciously forage a connection between their brands and the earth.
Pink in Color Theory
Historically, pink portrayed femininity in brands like Barbie and Cosmopolitan. Today, pink is more often associated with feminine traits versus brands catering to females. For example, different shades of pink can convey empathy, harmony, passion, and understanding. It’s the perfect blend of lightness and boldness.
Greyscale, Black, and White in Color Theory
Choosing a dark or light greyscale aesthetic can provide just as much value as any color. Black is synonymous with luxury and power, commonly used by brands in the fashion and beauty industries, such as D&G, Valentino, Urban Decay, and Benefit. On the other hand, white creates a clean, minimal, modern look, communicating brand exclusivity to consumers. White is the primary color in graphics for brands like Tesla, Nike, and Apple.
Why is Color Theory Important in Graphic Design?
The business of color theory can take your business to new heights, but with this power comes great responsibility. Choosing your brand colors can make or break consumer trust in what you do.
A brand is a promise to the people that you will do, say, and be what you say. So, show your true colors!