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The Importance of Color in Advertising and Design

Most designers have taken a course or are familiar with color theory. When creating a new design, it’s easy to forget what you learned in school. Choosing the right colors is very important because color can effect the entire outcome of your design. It’s highly recommended that before committing to specific colors in your design, you do the research to make sure those colors will convey the message you want to send.

 

Color and Branding

Many companies want to use their truck and vehicle wraps or transit advertisements as an extension of their brand. Therefore, the colors you choose are very important, because you want to make sure that your color choices fall within the company’s branding guidelines. Stay consistent with company branding by sticking to the colors used in the company’s logo, website, and other marketing materials. Make sure you are provided with PMS colors (Pantone Matching System) before production begins. With the Pantone Matching System, you get maximum color consistency from the printer to the client. Basically, that just means the colors on your design will match with your client’s other marketing materials.

The orange and blue color scheme on this wrap stays consistent with SunnyD's branding.

 

Color Meanings

Did you know colors have certain meanings attached to them? Research has been done to show how different colors influence people’s emotions and actions. If you’re open to the colors used for your design, consider choosing colors based on how they’re perceived (Source: Color Wheel Pro):

Light red represents joy, sexuality, passion, sensitivity, and love.
Pink signifies romance, love, and friendship. It denotes feminine qualities and passiveness.
Dark red is associated with vigor, willpower, rage, anger, leadership, courage, longing, malice, and wrath.
Brown suggests stability and denotes masculine qualities.
Reddish-brown is associated with harvest and fall.

Dark orange can mean deceit and distrust.
Red-orange corresponds to desire, sexual passion, pleasure, domination, aggression, and thirst for action.
Gold evokes the feeling of prestige. The meaning of gold is illumination, wisdom, and wealth. Gold often symbolizes high quality.

Dull (dingy) yellow represents caution, decay, sickness, and jealousy.
Light yellow is associated with intellect, freshness, and joy.

Dark green is associated with ambition, greed, and jealousy.
Yellow-green can indicate sickness, cowardice, discord, and jealousy.
Aqua is associated with emotional healing and protection.
Olive green is the traditional color of peace.

Light blue is associated with health, healing, tranquility, understanding, and softness.
Dark blue represents knowledge, power, integrity, and seriousness.

Light purple evokes romantic and nostalgic feelings.
Dark purple evokes gloom and sad feelings. It can cause frustration.

White is associated with light, goodness, innocence, purity, and virginity. It is considered to be the color of perfection.

Black is associated with power, elegance, formality, death, evil, and mystery.

 

Color Makes Your Design “Stand Out” or “Blend In”

Each year, DuPont Automotive releases its Global Automotive Color Popularity Report. In 2011, white was the most popular color in North America, making up 23 percent of all vehicles. Black, silver, gray and red followed to complete the top five popular vehicle colors. Do you want your vehicle wrap to stand out? Avoid making your wrap the same colors as any of those in the top five. Take advantage of the fact that your vehicle can literally be ANY color you choose. A vehicle that is a different color from common vehicle colors is more likely to grab attention.

 

Color Placement

Before deciding on a background color, test how your logo looks against different colors. For example, if you have a red logo, it will look different on a black background vs a white one. Check out the image below to see how the red star appears on different colored backgrounds. The black background makes the star appear larger and stand out from the background. The white background forces the star back, although the logo is still very visible. The orange background blends in with the star, making the logo appear dull… it’s much harder to decipher the orange background from the red star.

It comes down to this: what are you trying to do with your design? In this example, if you wanted the red star to be the most prominent aspect of your design, you’d go with a black background. If you wanted the star to “sit back” in the design, white would be the choice. If you just want a bright background, and aren’t concerned with the star element standing out, you’d go with the orange background.

 
 
Color Resources:
All About Color
Association Between Color and Words
Create and Share Color Themes
Pantone Colors
Color Vision Testing
Color Wheel Pro