Color is powerful. It can influence your thoughts and reactions. It can even produce physical effects. As such, it can be a subtle, yet highly effective design tool.

It’s the warmest of the basic colors, and also the most diverse. It can mean love, but it can also mean danger. It has been proven that red enhances our metabolism, raises blood pressure, and boosts appetites. It’s the most attention-getting color scheme, which is why it’s so often used for action items such as “click here” buttons.

Generally, yellow is associated with happiness and joy. It’s sunshine. Yellow can boost mental activity. It can be used for getting attention (like a highlighter pen), but it should not be overused. Too much can be distracting and can make people impatient. On the other hand, a complete lack of yellow can heighten negative feelings such as insecurity, fear, and isolation. Use yellow, but balance it with other colors.

We’re often surrounded by blue because of the ocean and the sky. When we don’t have enough blue, we tend to seek it out. We hang up calendars full of striking pictures, or change our desktops to that perfect beach scene. Blue is soothing, while at the same time stokes the imagination. It’s the color of loyalty and confidence. It’s an ideal color for corporate or product logos.

It’s the color most commonly associated with growth (nature) and opportunity (money/wealth). Green takes a lot of space in the human eye’s spectrum, and as such is considered the most relaxing and calming color. It is an ideal background for any kind of design because it is visible anywhere.

Purple is a rare color in the natural world, which is why it’s so often associated with royalty. It’s often regarded as sacred, delicate, and precious, while also being luxurious, and ambitious. When used as a design element, it imparts elegance and sophistication.

Technically, black is the absence of colors. But it’s not without its merits. On a positive note, black imparts strength, authority and seriousness. Conversely, it can also mean aggression, evil, and death. In corporate design, black is often a solid choice for a logo and for body text. But it should never…..NEVER….be used as a background if you want to be taken seriously.

Brown is a tough color to design with. It’s not particularly inspiring, and certainly not attention getting. However, as an earth tone, brown can add an earthiness and a sense of trust or reliability to your design. It works best as a complimentary color when paired with brighter colors.

White is a color, though designers typically treat it as an absence of color. Not surprisingly, white is associated with light – a symbol of innocence, cleanliness, coolness and simplicity. As such, white aids mental clarity. It’s easily the least visually-offensive color.

Not unlike yellow (which is very near orange on the color spectrum), orange inspires creativity and joy. It’s often associated with autumn. It encourages warmth, happiness and understanding. Studies have shown that orange stimulates hunger (consider how many restaurants use this color). Depending on the shade or orange, it can also be highly visible in logo designs.

Choose Wisely
Colors also carry different meanings depending on the country and culture. In most cases it won’t be an issue, but you should do a little research beforehand. Also, different shades, tints, and hues of the color can change its appropriateness and effectiveness. So, consider the colors you use carefully. And good luck!