The Role of Color in Graphic Design


Color is a powerful thing. It can influence emotions, control moods, and motivate actions in a way that we still don’t entirely understand. It is a factor that has been recognized, if not fully understood, for many generations of businesses, and it remains a powerful factor in graphic design today.
You can now assemble your own graphics and email them to a company to get a folding carton, t-shirt, ink pen, or almost anything you need for your business. So for entrepreneurs, an understanding of color is more important than ever, because it’s so easy now to design and use your own artwork without expert advice.

In those many years of color use, some things have been discovered about how consumers react to colors and the implications of those reactions on color choices for graphics. Here are some of the things we know about colors.

There are Gender Differences

Before we address the specific uses of certain colors, it’s worth noting that males and females tend to prefer different colors. Those tastes can override the general impact of various colors, so products that are marketed primarily to one particular gender will need to account for those adjustments.
As one example, while men and women have a comparable affinity for blue, there is almost no preference for purple by men compared to 23% of women stating that it is their favorite color.

The Medium Matters

Now let’s examine specific uses of color. There is actually importance attached to the place where the color is being used. What works best on promotional items won’t be as effective on a website, and vice versa.
When most advertisements were print-based, this wasn’t an issue. A billboard could use the same colors as a magazine ad without any difference in ease of reading. But you need to use the right colors on a website to be readable both online and in other applications.
The best way to handle this is with some test runs. Get sample products from various vendors and then mock up a website in the same colors. Experiment with your logo and design until you find a combination that works in every use.

Color Choices

So now we’re down to the specific recommendations for color. Before you commit to any particular choices, you should review a thorough guide to the psychology of color to ensure that you are going the right direction. But here are a few broad guidelines.

Red is associated with urgency, passion, and intensity. It’s highly visible, which can be a very important consideration as well. In terms of online use, it can be a bit too intense for prolonged viewing.

By contrast, green is a calmer color, associated with freshness and health. That’s why many low-calorie food items are packaged in green. It also represents trust and loyalty, making it a logical choice for financial matters.

Orange is associated with happiness and success and other positive emotions, largely due to its link to the color of the sun. Yellow is similar, but it can be too bright for prolonged viewing.
Purple has long been identified with royalty and prestige, making it a great choice for high-end products and services.

Black and white, not surprisingly, represent many opposing emotions such as evil vs. purity, mystery vs. awareness, and so forth. Yet both can represent a clean perspective, with black showing a sleek appearance and white a bright one.

Whatever directions you go with colors, make sure that you don’t confine your process to just the colors themselves. Remember issues like gender preference, application type, and the viewer’s endurance with the particular color. With the right choice of colors in the right format, you can forge an identity that will make you successful.