Color selection, though seemingly simple at the onset, is actually one of the more important decisions you will make while creating signage; particularly branding colors. Fortune 500 companies spend thousands of marketing dollars researching the effects of colors and shading on their target audience prior to settling on which colors will accompany their brand and marketing materials. Why? Color combinations have psychological affects that influence consumer buying patterns.
As important as a good headline or a catch phrase, color use connects in the consumer mind in preconceived ways. Colors are ingrained to mean certain things. The key is to tap into associations in which we are already predisposed.
Color has a subtle yet powerful roll in signage. Researchers tell us that color accounts for up to 60% of the consumer’s impression; meaning it’s the dominating reason for either acceptance or rejection. Indeed, color is the foundation in which we build our promotional message.
Colors Have Deeper Meanings
Customers get a glimpse of a sign as they walk or drive by; and in that 1/16 of a second they’re already judging it. Mike Doyle, vice president of strategic sales for Creative Retail Services, Inc., notes that his client, Home Depot, chose orange because it demands the customer’s attention. The goal is to use color to make signage pop out and draw the customer to look more closely.
So our eyes are drawn to color, but what do the colors communicate? The answer can vary depending on your cultural background and where you live. For example, Americans wear black to funerals but the Chinese color of death and mourning is white. Understanding the deeper meanings of colors as they relate to your target audience can help you choose the most appropriate combinations for your signage. Let’s take a look at the basics as they are used in the U.S.:
- Red: Characteristics of red are speed, passion, excitement, stimulation, energy, heat, strength, boldness, desire, determination, courage, danger, low price, sexy, life and love. It is also the most eye-catching of all colors.
- Pink: Pink is the most calming of all colors and implies security, softness, sweetness and nurturing.
- Yellow: Yellow is another attention-grabber that delivers aspects of warmth, sunshine, happiness, cheer, comfort and energy.
- Blue: The most popular color the world over, blue is cool, cold, trust, professionalism, reliability, calm, restful, loyalty, freedom, belonging, wisdom, elegance and quality. Too much blue, however, and it gives a sense of uncaring.
- Orange: This color instills warmth, creativity, playfulness, enthusiasm and vibrancy.
- Green: Green signifies nature, abundance, fresh, healthy, cool, harmony, growth, and environment. Too much gives one a feeling that something is overpriced
- Purple: It establishes a sense of royal, dignity, nobility, elegance, luxury and/or spirituality.
- Black: Formality, elegance, seduction, sophistication, authority, power, stability, mystery, strength, physical thinning and seriousness are communicated by this color.
- White: White is clean, pure, innocent, mild, simplistic, youthful, safe, light, neutral and creative.
- Gray: Practical, timeless, solidity, aging and death are represented by gray.
- Brown: Brown is used for industrial applications due to its earthy, reliable and genuine tones.
- Silver: Silver signifies prestige, coldness, scientific, assisting and of strong character.
- Gold: This color asserts prestige, elitism and expense.
Shades and Combinations
There are no hard and fast rules for color combinations. With today’s culture you could combine almost any of the colors and make them look good if done in the right proportions. It has to connect with your audience, however; so some knowledge of color perception is advised. Different shades produce varied meanings, experts say, so sticking with basic color combinations and keeping them simple is advised until color is mastered as a second language.
An example of good color use is the combinations of red, yellow and orange used by the fast food industry. These colors stimulate the appetite and create a sense of speed and urgency, so they are effective in conveying the quick in-and-out fast food style. Another example is restaurants that use purple and green to give the feeling of healthy, good-for-you food in a higher class environment.
There are many competitors using color in their signage as a weapon to command attention on the commercial battleground. Ultimately, unless you have an established brand, signage color could make or break your marketing effort. Take the time to choose your colors wisely the first time around because color consistency affects brand awareness in the long run.
If in doubt, consult a color specialist prior to printing. TCS representatives are dedicated to helping you select the right color for your signage and company image. Call us today at 678-385-2188 to discuss your project.