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Color Matters: Color Consideration in Graphic Design

Whether designing a business card, posters or ads, color matters, more often than people realize. It isn’t a matter of selecting what colors appeal to you, but what appeals to your target audience. No matter what medium you’re designing for, color relationships are one of the first of design considerations you should keep in mind when first imagining what the end product is to accomplish.

Color can affect mood, as well as physical reactions. For example, take a moment and consider -what are the predominant color schemes that are seen in most fast food restaurants? Red and yellow. Studies have shown that red actually speeds up the metabolism. Now think about what the purpose red might serve in a fast food place. Their goal is to get you in, get you fed, and get you moving out so that the next batch of customers can get in there. In contrast, think of the last time you were in a higher-end restaurant – there the colors are more subdued and calmer, their purpose is to invite you to linger, enjoy your meal, have that second cup of coffee when you’re done, indulge yourself in a dessert.

Tiffany has its signature blue box; it has become synonymous with upscale quality, sophistication and luxury, a practice the company has used since 1837 - and has trademarked both their boxes and their unique and distinct robin egg’s blue - which is now known as “Tiffany Blue.” And then there’s UPS, whose signature colors are brown and gold. Brown is the dominant color – safe, dependable, reliable brown. They’ve even used it in their marketing campaign: “What can brown do for you?” and used the color to emphasize and strongly brand their company name. In 1998, UPS also registered trademarks on the color brown to prevent other delivery service companies from cashing in on their successful branding strategy.

Colors have come to be associated with meanings, and colors work because these meanings can influence your target market in subconscious, conscious and even physical ways. So with such a strong effect on them in mind and body, it’s important to recognize the true value in choosing colors for your graphic projects because when promoting your goods and services, every advantage helps.

You may wonder how color affects your customers. For an example, think of colors that are usually termed as “cool” colors, such as pale blues and greens. They are usually thought to be calm and relaxing and are associated with nature as well. Now stop and think about what products are often associated with those colors: soaps, shampoos, body washes – all products that are usually advertised to offer natural cleanliness and promise a relaxing, calming experience. Now compare that with so-called “hot colors” bright reds, oranges and vibrant yellows and the products most often associated with them – Fast-food restaurants, spicy foods and energy drinks, and a lot of children’s toys are marketing using these vibrant, high-energy colors.

In future posts, we’ll take a look at specific colors, choosing color combinations and their use in graphic design projects whether using Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign or Dreamweaver.