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Why Color Psychology is so Important in Graphic Design

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Written by

Kristian F.

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Published on

Aug 5, 2022

If you have any experience with graphic design, you would know that color psychology is used all the time for many different applications. Whether you're trying to design a logo, flyer, or website, picking between the right colors can make all the difference.


In this article, we are going to go over all of the important factors of color psychology, the meaning of each color, and other key elements every designer should know when designing, so let's get started!


Jump to a Section:


- What is Color Psychology?

- What is the Meaning of each Color?

- How to Pick the right Color?

- Get familiar with Colors

- Color Contrast

- Color Psychology in Advertising and Marketing

- Color Emotions in Logo Design and Branding

- Conclusion



What is Color Psychology?


color psychology in the human brain illustration infographic image

In short, color psychology is the study of how colors affect perception and behaviors.


Different colors have meanings, connotations, and psychological effects that vary across cultures.


In graphic design, color psychology is used to help designers with their decision-making in order to attract more attention and stand out from the crowd.


Color psychology also involves using "Color Theory" which is the practical application of color combinations, hue mixing, and color perception.



What is the Meaning of each Color?


Each color has a specific meaning that is consciously or subconsciously recognized by people. Taking advantage of these meanings can boost your design clarity and allow you to achieve better results.


- Red


The color of passion and energy. Red draws attention like no other color and radiates a strong and powerful energy that motivates us to take action.


It is also linked to sexuality and stimulates deep and intimate passion. Color red is ubiquitously used to warn and signal caution and danger.


- Orange


The color of enthusiasm and emotion. Orange exudes warmth and joy and is considered a fun color that provides emotional strength.


Orange color is optimistic and uplifting, adds spontaneity and positivity to life and it encourages social communication and creativity. It is a youthful and energetic color.


- Yellow


The color of happiness and optimism. Yellow is a cheerful and energetic color that brings fun and joy to the world.


It makes learning easier as it affects the logical part of the brain, stimulating mentality and perception.


It inspires thought and curiosity and boosts enthusiasm and confidence.


- Green


The color of harmony and health. Green is a generous, relaxing color that revitalizes our body and mind.


Green color balances our emotions and leaves us feeling safe and secure.


It also gives us hope, with promises of growth and prosperity, and it provides a little bit of luck to help us along the way.


Green is also used as a symbol of nature.


Turquoise


The color of calmness and clarity. Turquoise stabilizes emotions and increases empathy and compassion.


It emits a cool calming peace, gives us a boost of positive mental energy that improves concentration and clarifies our mind, and creates a balance that clears the path to spiritual growth.


- Blue


The color of trust and loyalty. Blue has a calming and relaxing effect on our psyche, that gives us peace and makes us feel confident and secure.


Color blue dislikes confrontation and too much attention, but it is an honest, reliable and responsible color and you can always count on its support.


- Purple


The color of spirituality and imagination. Color purple inspires us to divulge our innermost thoughts, which enlightens us with wisdom of who we are and encourages spiritual growth.


It is often associated with royalty and luxury, and its mystery and magic sparks creative fantasies.


- Pink


The color of love and compassion. Pink is kind and comforting, full of sympathy and compassion, and makes us feel accepted. Its friendly, playful spirit calms and nurtures us, bringing joy and warmth into our lives.


Pink is also a feminine and intuitive color that is bursting with pure romance.


- Brown


The color of stability and reliability. Brown is dependable and comforting. A great counselor and friend full of wisdom.


You can count on its help if you need an honest opinion, support and protection.


It stabilizes us, helps us stay grounded and inspires us to appreciate the simple things in life.


- Black


The color of power and sophistication. Black is an incredibly strong and intimidating color that exudes authority and makes us feel secure and protected.


Often seen at formal and prestigious events, this mysterious marvel arouses and seduces our senses with its elegance and sexiness.


- Grey


The color of compromise and control. Gray is neutral, conservative and unemotional. It is practically solid as a rock, making it incredibly stable, reliable and calming.


It has a peaceful, relaxing and soothing presence. Gray avoids attention but offers mature, insightful advice to anyone who asks.


- White


The color of purity, innocence, and light. White is a true balance of all colors and is associated with cleanliness, simplicity and perfection.


It loves to make others feel good and provides hope and clarity by refreshing and purifying the mind. It also promotes open-mindedness and self-reflection.



How to Pick the right Color


Applying colors is one of the most enjoyable parts of graphic design, but it can also be quite challenging to do the right way. Which colors look good together? Will this color have nice contrast with the other one? Should I add a new color to the mix?


These and many more questions are asked all the time by beginner designers.


So, to get a good understanding and to answer these questions, we first need to get familiar with colors.



Get familiar with Colors


We already talked about what each color means and what feeling it gives to the audience, but to truly get familiar with colors, you have to experiment.


A great tool for that is the color wheel. There are two main aspects of the color wheel every beginner should know about: how to select different colors and how to identify them.


illustrator color wheel bright and pastel colors

When choosing different colors, the brightest colors can be found toward the outside of the color wheel.


These colors are the most vibrant, and can be thought of as the most intense version of a color.


Toward the middle are pastel colors, which are soft and neutral.



Color Contrast


Contrast is a representation of two design elements in very opposite ways.


It's a very useful design principle used by graphic designers to create focal points in a design layout that makes your eyes drawn to that point.


Contrast is also used in graphic design to give shapes or objects better visual weight and balance the whole design.


good and bad color contrast example

There are many tools to help you evaluate and test color combinations to see if they meet appropriate standards.


One of the ways is to use the color wheel to develop your intuition around color contrast. Basically, pick the colors that are in the opposite quadrants of the color wheel.


color wheel contrast guide example image

Another great way to test color contrast is by using online contrast checker tools.


One of my favorite ones is coolors.co.


On Coolors, you can pick any cool colors (Pun intended), you want, lock them in, and then randomize colors or check if the colors you picked got a high contrast score.


If the color got a high contrast score, congratulations! You created a color combination that works perfectly.



Color Psychology in Advertising and Marketing


Brands and Businesses use color psychology for many different reasons:


- Brand Identity: Companies carefully choose color palettes that complement their brand personality.


The right color scheme is essential for expressing the perspective of a particular brand.


- Customer targeting: Marketers conduct studies on how customers perceive different colors.


By making specific color choices according to the color preferences of their target audience, businesses can hone marketing efforts toward certain demographics.


- Conversion rates: Conversion rates measure the percentage of customers who finish a task set forward by a company.


The task may be pressing a call to action (CTA) button or signing up for an email newsletter.


Research shows that merely changing the color of CTA buttons can increase conversion rates.



Color Emotions in Logo Design and Branding


It's no secret that different colors give different emotions when used in logo design, so using the right one can make all the difference on the way people see your business.


All of the well-known brands in the world use psychology of color to awaken a specific emotion and feeling in people who use their services or buy their products.


Logo color emotions guide infographic

Also, to make sure you're exporting your work in the right color format at the end of your project, check out our Logo Formats Guide.



Conclusion


Color psychology is an important part of graphic design and I would definitely encourage every graphic designer to learn, implement, and take advantage of the huge power of color.


Doing so will have a big impact on your graphic design success and allow you to do better work for your clients and your business.