olour theory is an important aspect of visual design for marketing, advertising, and branding that many people often overlook if they do not have prior experience or knowledge of visual design.
An average person is likely unaware of the subconscious impacts that colour psychology can have on a customer's emotions and decisions. We can use this to our advantage by implementing colour theory as a way to subconsciously tell the customer how they should feel through the use of colour.
Now, let's discuss the basics of colour theory for you to implement into your business's branding and advertising.
There are countless colour combinations you can use for your advertisements and brand. However, certain combinations are better for catching attention or creating pleasing designs.
Complementary colours are opposite each other on the colour wheel. These combinations are most helpful in creating strong responses and eye-catching designs. However, utilizing complementary colours can sometimes backfire, as for some people, they can cause unpleasant visual disturbances like visual vibration.
Split complementary colour combinations are great for creating interesting colour schemes. These colour combinations are made from colours that seemingly wouldn't go well together but end up creating a scheme that stands out, without as much risk of extreme contrast as with complementary colours.
Tetradic Colour Scheme
This colour scheme offers a more subtle combination that still offers some contrast.
As demonstrated in this example, the red and blue are quite bold, and the more muted orange and green help balance out the overall feel of the scheme while making the bold colours stand out more.
When creating designs, it is essential to remember how colours work together. Colours may be perceived differently when presented in contrast with another colour. For example, if we look at these circles, the same middle ring colour looks very different depending on its context.
Different colours create various subconscious associations and emotional symbolism. Additionally, the shade of each colour can change its interpretation.
For example, we would generally not use blue designs for hot sauce or red designs for iced tea. Furthermore, even to the untrained eye, these various shades convey different messages.
General Colour Psychology
Red: power, passion, aggression, energy, danger. It is the second most visible colour, so it is great for catching attention
Orange: optimistic, cheerful, spiritual, inexpensive, enthusiastic
Yellow: cheerful, happy, intellectual, logical, energetic, optimistic, fun.
Black: Power, elegance, evil, mystery, and formality.
Green: Growth, harmony, wealth, stability, and nature.
Blue: Tranquillity, confidence, peace, sadness, and reliability.
Purple: Luxury, creativity, wealth, royalty, and romance.
White: Safety, innocence, purity, cleanliness, and neutrality.
Warm vs Cool Colours
In addition to the psychology of specific colours, warm and cold colours can be used to convey a certain message. Warm colours are at the top of the colour wheel, the red to yellow colours, while cool colours are the blues to the greens.
This means that even some shades of purple can be considered warm colours while other shades are cool. If the purple has more red than blue, it could be considered a warm purple; however, if it has more blue than red, then it is a cool purple. Warm and cold colour schemes are most often used for food advertising. For example, advertisements for hot sauces, spicy foods, and warm drinks would use very warm colours like red and orange in their advertisements, while mint gum, popsicles, and cold beverages would use cool colours.
However, warm and cool colours schemes can also be applied to other industries; for example, if you are selling pool floaties, you would likely want to use cool colours like blue to convey the message that they will help you to cool down in the hot summer sun, as well as the association to blue water.
These colour associations are only general guidelines for these colours. Depending on the shade and context of the colour, they could portray a very different meaning. Therefore, to determine the connotations surrounding a specific colour you want to use, you should do some research. Canva offers a variety of helpful colour theory tools available at this link: www.canva.com/colors/