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RgB Design Group Color Theory – part one

Color Theory – part one

In our last newsletter we gave you some tips to consider when having your logo designed. When working with an expert, he/she will also consider how the chosen colors work within your industry, the emotions they evoke and the psychology of colors as well as things like hue, chroma, saturation, value, tone, shade and tint. All of those things get wrapped up in a bow called “color theory” and are studied in detail by graphic art students.

Most of that is too complex to explain in a newsletter. But we can certainly share the pitfalls to watch out for when choosing a color. “Because it is my favorite color” is not the best way to make a decision for something as permanent as your business branding.

We are going to do a three-part series of newsletters on Color Theory: cool colors, warm colors and neutral colors.

Cool Colors

Green fades into blue, fades into purple and starts to head towards red. That is a general description of cool colors. But how much yellow in the green or red in the purple makes it warm? There is no hard line. The answer depends on the eye of the beholder.

Cool colors are typically thought to be calming, peaceful even subdued, think the blue-greens of a tranquil sea. Because of that cool colors are used in branding to portray strength of character, responsibility and steadfastness. But before you run off and decide your brand should be made up of cool colors, they can also create feelings of being old, stodgy and out of touch.

Blues

Blues from navy to azure create feelings of strength, intelligence and importance (have you ever noticed that powerful people in books often have blue eyes?). The closer to navy a blue is, the more reliable and dependable the brand is perceived. The Virgin Mary is often portrayed wearing dark blue and in Judaism blue signifies spirituality, causing the color to be associated with religion or spirituality. Lighter blues are seen as relaxed and easy going, while bright blues are exhilarating and invigorating. And of course, baby blue brings to mind cooing baby boys.

When asked about their favorite color, more people choose blue than any other, stating it allows them to decompress and consider solutions. However, the same factors that make blue trustworthy and dependable can also cause it to be seen as aloof, unfriendly and distant.

Greens

There is little that makes the world feel more right than the green of spring. Peace, renewal and harmony. Being down-to-earth and growing are often associated with green.

Health brands, vegan restaurants and banks are all likely to use green in their branding.

But it’s not all soon-to-flower roses and flitting butterflies. Green has a dark side. Jealousy, envy, money (often seen as evil money), materialism and greed are all represented by green. And who can forget the sexy allure of the green M&M?

Purples

Somewhere along the spectrum blue turns into purple, more red makes it violet, add white and you get lavender. In ancient times purple was the most expensive color to produce. Even today artist struggle to create the color purple because any hint of yellowing in the red or blue being mixed causes the resulting purple to be dull and lifeless. Queen Elizabeth I, Nero and Julius Caesar all made decrees about who was allowed to wear or use purple cloth.

Catholic priests’’ robes are purple, making it not surprising that the color is seen as elite, royal and having to do with piety.

Interestingly, it is also associate with dark magic, mystery, bravery, creativity, imagination and fun. Talk about a diverse color psychology!

Women report liking purple more often than men do. Particularly light purples like lavender are associated with femininity, grace and refinement, all words that would define the upper class as opposed to the working class.

Brands that want to be associated with luxury will often use purples. Consider Lady Speed Stick or Hallmark (feminine brands incidentally).

It is important to know that purple is the color of widows in mourning in Thailand and because of its association with royalty, it can give off a snobbish or arrogant feel. Also keep in mind that getting a consistent purple on printed marketing materials requires careful adherence to specific color coding.

The final word

Warm colors can create amazing branding when used correctly. When used without consideration for color theory and the psychology of color, it can turn ugly quickly. For help with your branding and marketing ideas, including the use of color theory, contact Russ at Russ@RgBDesignGroup.com

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