Use of colour in design

Anne-Marie Miller

Creative Director & Partner, Carbon Orange

Use of colour in design

Anne-Marie Miller

Creative Director & Partner, Carbon Orange

Colour can be a subjective thing, a matter of taste, but there are certain perceptions around colour that hold true to many people.

 

Black is powerful and strong.

White is purity and innocence.

Red is vibrant and bold.

Orange is friendly and creative (that’s us!)

Yellow is playful and energetic.

Green suggests environmental concern or wellness.

Blue is seen as a reliable colour. It is the most commonly used colour for corporate logos as it denotes trustworthiness.

Purple is spiritual and quirky.

Pink is fun and cheeky.

Brown might suggest heritage, history and nature.

Of course, within each colour there are many shades and levels of vibrancy which in turn will change the mood that the colour conveys. For example, while certain shades of blue are seen as reliable and corporate (the Ford logo for example), a lighter more vibrant shade offers a more modern fresh angle (see the Skype logo).

When using colours in combination or creating a new corporate palette, think about what mood they convey. A muted palette might be beautiful and sophisticated, but consider where it will be used, maybe it needs to stand out more to get noticed? Or you love bright colours, but actually your brand needs to be subtler, classier.

In different cultures colours are perceived differently. For example, while red is vibrant and strong, in the West it can be used to convey danger. In China red is a colour of luck, and joy. In India, it is a colour of love and strength, and seen at weddings.

We colour our homes and offices to create certain environments. A soft green lends itself to relaxation, red in the dining room is thought to be a lively choice to increase the appetite. And orange apparently aids digestion! (You’re welcome!) Medical environments can be made much more welcoming and less intimidating with smart use of colour, especially where children might come to be treated. In a large office or exhibition space, colour can be used to great effect to create clear zones, making environments easier to navigate.

There will be different considerations as well for a graphic designer for where the colour is being used, whether for a website, or on printed materials.

Working with colour takes a lot of care and consideration, at the same time it is fun and the results can be stunning.

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