One of the quickest, simplest and most impactful design tactics in advertising can be summed up in one word: color. In school, design students learn that certain colors carry specific meanings and connotations. Red is often associated with passion, love and comfort, while blue is often described as a calming, serene color.

Studies have shown that almost 80 percent of the information we receive from a logo comes from the colors contained within it. Different colors can evoke all sorts of different emotions and feelings. Have you ever noticed that a yellow room tends to make you feel brighter or happier? Or how a red sign can alert you to danger? The colors used in a design have a bigger impact on its viewers than one might think and can influence emotion in specific ways. Even the shade of a color is a big decision. For example, Google once tested over 40 shades of blue in its logo to see which one performed best.

Keep Color Temperatures in Mind

Just like the weather, colors have temperatures too. Color temperatures are measured in Kelvin (K), with warm colors falling between the 2,000–3,000K range, cool colors ranging from 4,600–6,500 and the rest falling somewhere in the middle (Lumens). When you recognize that color has a temperature, you will be able to understand how choosing all warm or all cool colors in a logo can impact your brand and your brand’s message.

Using Color in Your Advertising

Color has the power of persuasion. It can attract your attention or change your mood. And it plays a part in how we see or define things. Color choices are critically important to the overall success of a brand. Our brains prefer recognizable brands, with color a key factor in creating brand identity.

While certain colors can be associated with certain feelings, meanings, etc., be mindful that all color associations come with an opposing meaning. Red evokes passion and love, but could also bring violence to mind. White typically evokes cleanliness, innocence and purity, but in China, it stands for death and emptiness. Make sure you do your research before putting together your next international brand.

Summing Up the Design Color Theory

Not only can knowledge of the Design Color Theory guide you in your own marketing, sales and advertising efforts, but it can also help you better understand your competition. Color has the ability to make your brand stand out and appeal to your target audience. Here’s a quick reference guide for common meanings of certain colors:

  • Red
    aggression, energy, passion, love
  • Orange
    vitality, playfulness, youthfulness
  • Yellow
    positivity, warmth, light
  • Purple
    royalty, sophistication, wealth, creativity
  • Pink
    beauty, compassion, tenderness
  • Blue
    calmness, security, trustworthiness
  • Green
    health, abundance, nature
  • Brown
    nature, wholesome, durability
  • Black
    prestige, sophistication, elegance, evil
  • White
    purity, cleanliness, freshness
  • Gold
    affluence, elite, quality
  • Gray or Silver
    scientific, balance, cold
  • Cream or Ivory
    calm, elegant, purity
  • Tan or Beige
    conservative, piety, dull

Colors can significantly affect your designs and how other perceive it. Choosing the right color palette is a huge part of a creative campaign, not only from an artistic perspective but also a marketing perspective.