Color is everywhere and conveys a message
even if we don’t realize it. While
this message can vary by culture it pays
to know what colors “say” in
your own corner of the universe, and even
what color means to your target market.
If you don’t think that color speaks
just complete this sentence, “red
means ---- and green means –“ even
a child will know what red means stop and
green means go. If such simple ideas work
for all of a given culture or market what
could it mean to the graphic design of
your website, brochure, or product if you
know some of this information.
First let’s start with the basics.
The color wheel. We’ve all seen it.
The color wheel shows the basic colors,
each wheel is different in how many shades
of each color is shown, but they are essentially
Color harmony, colors that go together
well. These will be colors that are next
door to each other on the color wheel.
Such as blue and green. In reference to
clothes these colors match each other.
Instinctively most of us know which colors
go together when we dress ourselves every
Color complements, colors that set each
other off, they complement each other.
These are colors that are opposite on the
color wheel. Such as blue and orange.
Color depth, colors can recede or jump
forward. Remember that some colors seem
to fall back such as blue, black, dark
green, and brown. Other colors will seem
to step forward such as white, yellow,
red, and orange. This is why if you have
a bright orange background it may seem
to fight with any text or images that you
place on it. The orange will always seem
to move forward.
Now you have the basics so let’s
go further. Just because to colors go together
or complement each other doesn’t
mean that yo necessarily want to use them
on your project. I opened this article
with the meaning of colors now here is
an example, keep in mind this is one example
from western culture.
Color Survey: what respondents said colors
mean to them.
Happy = Yellow Inexpensive = Brown
Pure = White Powerful = Red (tomato)
Good Luck = green Dependable = Blue
Good tasting = Red (tomato) High Quality
Dignity = Purple Nausea = Green
Technology = Silver Deity = White
Sexiness = Red (tomato) Bad Luck = Black
Mourning = Black Favorite color = Blue
Expensive = Gold Least favorite color
So in designing your project it’s
important to know what colors mean. You
can now see why a black back ground with
green type would be bad, beyond being nearly
impossible to read, if your target market
thinks that black represents mourning and
green makes them sick. There are exceptions
to every rule of course.
So you may want to include some research
in what colors mean to your target market.
Colors that would get the attention of
a teen would probably annoy an older person
and the colors that appeal to the older
person wouldn’t get a second look
from a young person.
Color may be one of the most overlooked
aspects of design.
Copyright 2004 Kelly Paal Kelly Paal is
a Freelance Nature and Landscape Photographer,
exhibiting nationally and internationally.
Recently she started her own business Kelly
Paal Photography (www.kellypaalphotography.com).
She has an educational background in photography,
business, and commercial art. She enjoys
applying graphic design and photography
principles to her web design.