#GuruChats – Color Me Right

Imagine a world devoid of colors, where trees are black, people grey, and the skies are ubiquitous white. A world with black and white billboards, and supermarket product rows devoid of any visual competition. It’s indeed a bleak picture, and thank god we don’t have to live in that world because we have colors to navigate, differentiate, and appeal to our senses. Many may take it for granted but the fact is that colors are the lifeblood of our visual world, and more so in the world of business, marketing art and design.

Having said that colors is a complex science that perplex even the most seasoned graphic designer and artist. A slightly wrong choice of color can askew your visual appeal and communicate the wrong message to your audience. It’s for this reason that we’ve dedicated this week’s #GuruChats on “Color Me Right”. To shed light on this topic we’ve invited a panel of expert guests who’ve been kind to offer insights on how colors work, and how to effectively use them in any mode of communication design.

Colors And Preferences

It’s established by all experts that everyone has a preference when it comes to colors. When asked which colors would the experts not use, for some neon yellow is disturbing, while others feel pink is a no-go area. But there is a common agreement that no color can be chosen in isolation not to be used. There is no such thing as a color that shouldn’t be used; it’s all about context and resonance, and depends on the project at hand and what colors would suit it. Moreover, everyone has a tendency to lean towards a certain preferred color(s) when they are choosing one for their visual presentation.

Colors And Psychological Effects

The reason for such preferences is because colors elicit strong emotions in all of us. Each color resonate differently to different people. There are multilevel perceptions at play when colors are presented visually to an audience.

It could be cultural perception which has been ingrained in the psyche of the audience. For instance red is the color of passion in the West while in the East it’s the color of luck and happiness.

It could be psychological impact as people tend to gravitate towards warm colors when they want energy while cool colors for calming down.

It could be imagery association through the world around us. For example coffee will always be dark brown while leaves will always be green even if in some cases they may be otherwise.

And it could be the business standards derived from centuries of visual branding created to influence consumer’s perception. E.g. banks will mostly be associated with blues while eateries with red.

Even the tints, hues and tones make a great difference within the same color.

Colors And Brand Designs

So what impact do colors have on brand designs? A brand design is a representation of your business wherever it is viewed. Choosing the right color establishes its character, personality and message; it connects with brand traits, persona, and industry. It’s the basis on which your brand will appeal to your audience, and for this reason color appropriateness is critical.

Colors And Industry Specificity

There is a general agreement that colors are specific even if some colors overlap there are distinct tones, hues and shades that work in certain industry, and won’t for others. It’s all depends on your target audience, and the industry you’re working with. Generally, industry specificity should not be taken as a do-or-die edict. In fact, if you can be bold smartly, you can choose a color which is different from the industry norms, yet enjoy the attention.

Moreover, color trends may apply to certain industry while others may not be receptive of such changes. For instance, the graphic design and interior design may receive bold, and trendy colors more enthusiastically as compared to a company belonging to the construction industry. Use trendy colors with caution.

Color Inspirations

Choosing the right color is one of the hardest part of design. There are many ways one can one can go about this. Take inspirations from the web where experts have already created successful color palettes; look at your environment; use professional color apps like Pantone, Coolors, Adobe Kulers; go to social media like Pinterest; professional networks; and if nothing else experiment your own till you get the perfect blend.

Colors for Print vs. Web

Whichever the medium you choose to create your palette, it’s the end results which you need to consider. Where are you presenting your design, and how colors will impact it? If it’s the web then of course there are more choices to go with as digital formats offer exact colors and more vibrant. The only difference that one would need to be careful about is screen resolution rendering and how it will alter your color choice.

On the other hand, in print there are other considerations like working within the limitations of CMYK which is the color format printers match with, and the material on which it will be printed. A felt paper for a business card will absorb colors differently as compared to the glossy page of a magazine. Be aware of what colors would work and which one wouldn’t in print.

At the end of the day, the choice of color should be made with precision and strategu. Play with colors, get your hands dirty even; experiment and explore but don’t just randomize your decision. You can’t just pick a color and expect it will make your design look appealing.

To understand the whole concept here’s the Storify of the complete chat.

Janil Jean is an idealist blogger and social media addict who loves conversations related to branding, storytelling, startups and small business technology and design.

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