The Psychology Of Color

I recently read an article called, The Psychology of Color : A Guide For Designers by Patrick IIagan. This article breaks down our understanding of color and how it can be used within branding and advertising in relation to graphic design.

However, in reading this article I found that these same elements relate to communications planning — especially when itcomes to storytelling, data representation (infographics) and presentation decks. To create a truly powerful creative presentation that will capture the interest of the audience, it’s crucial to build a visual connection with your audience through color.

When it comes to design, the initial focus typically lands on idea, concept and then execution. The first step typically is to draft the layout of the project. However, most often than not, we forget that design is not just about creating cool layouts or intricate designs. Design is about building a connection between the product which we are designing and the target audience. The best way to do so is through the use of color. As humans, we are naturally drawn to certain things, in large part due to the color used and the feeling it evokes. Color expresses an emotion, gives the tone and attracts a person’s attention to the overall design.

“Color is an essential factor to the world of graphic design and advertising. Not only that it brings in depth and emphasis to a design but it also gives the feel and the mood of a design.”

The most fundamental way to grasp the psychology of color is to first understand the color wheel. The color wheel is made up of the hues, tints, tones and shades of primary, secondary and tertiary colors. Primary colors consist of the colors yellow, blue and red. Meanwhile, secondary colors consist of green, orange and purple. These colors are the main colors used in brand identity and advertising.

Bold primary colors are often used within a brand’s identity (logo). They capture the eye of the viewer, and if used consistently in the long term, they become recognizable. This is not just because of the brand name alone, but by association with brand color. For example; the following logos represented in the photo use primary colors along with minimal use of positive and negative space (the representation of white and black) for their branding. (Note: The article introduces black and white as “actual” colors. However, in design they are not considered colors. “In the visible spectrum, white reflects light and is a presence of all colors, but black absorbs light and is an absence of color. Black can be defined as the visual impression experienced when no visible light reaches the eye.”) In the case of secondary colors, some brands use them for color identity, but only some.

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