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Get Schooled in Color

August 1, 2010

I’d once been asked if I’d ever noticed that almost every fast food restaurant uses the same two colors in their branding- yellow and red. It sparked my interest and thus begun my love for color. After years of art and design classes, I’ve learned a thing or two about color. Color is a powerful tool in design (and life) that can calm you down on a bad day, fire you up on a lazy day, give you a sense of confidence, or even get your stomach growling. Each color has it’s own effects.

You may be thinking, white? White isn’t a color! I’m here to correct you. In 1666, Sir Isaac Newton discovered that shining pure white light through a prism separates the light into every color of the rainbow. So, think of white as the God of all colors. It’s known for giving the impression of purity, innocence and cleanliness. It also creates a sense of space. Hence, white-space (a term all great designers know and practice).


Red is a warm color that is sure to evoke strong feelings. The color draws attention, excites people, and gets your heart racing a little faster. When seeing red, your pituitary gland is stimulated, which is why it’s a perfect choice of color for restaurants. In design, it’s important not to overuse the color red, but instead use it in small doses to bring attention to important areas.

I’ve always thought of orange as a silly color. Like red, it’s exciting. But, it evokes feelings of warmth, friendliness, and energy. Orange is a perfect color to use on a casual postcard or invitation, but never on a serious professional piece unless paired with a more “serious” color.

Yellow is my favorite of all colors. It’s luminous, warm, and sunny. It will create a sense of happiness and playfulness. Your brain actually releases serotonin, which creates good feelings, when it sees the color yellow. You’ll notice that many businesses use yellow as an accent color to bring about these emotions. But, be cautious in over using yellow- studies show babies cry more in bright yellow rooms and tempers flare when near the color.

Ah, green. Green stimulates feelings of freshness, calmness, and renewal. You’ll notice often times that hospital rooms are painted shades of green to evoke health and wellness. This is also true of branding identities of health-related products. Green leaves and organic shapes are the latest logo trend. Green also brings about an impression of wealth and money- think H&R Block.

Blue is perceived as the most stable of all colors. It’s constant, trustworthy, and reliable. It’s the perfect choice for the identity a professional business, your home office, or the color of a uniform. The color, blue, reassures and helps people to stay focused. Some studies reveal that athletes are able to lift more weight and preform better in a blue colored room. Also, it’s the majority of the world’s favorite color.

Purple is royal. History shows that purple is a prosperous color that evokes a sense of power and wealth. But, depending on your culture, purple can have different effects on people. It’s sensual and elegant. But, also can be perceived as youthful and girly.

Pretty in pink. Pink is a romantic color. It’s sweet and girly. It evokes feelings of energy and youthfulness. Be careful when wearing or painting the color pink- it can appear faddish. It’s also the most calming color. Rumor has it, that dangerous criminals are housed in pink cells to calm them down. That would be great to see.

Neutrals, like grays and beiges, are good and dependable colors. They are timeless and classic and therefore evoke feelings of quality and stability. They give them impression of good character.

Black is the color of authority and power. It’s associated with knowledge and intelligence as well. It’s no wonder why you look smarter in those black rimmed glasses! Black is a powerful color that is often associated with grief, despair, and evil. Like many colors, be careful to not over-use it. But, when it comes time to appear a bit thinner, be sure to wear it!

L & Co. just schooled you in color! Want to know more? Just ask! I know all the in’s and out’s of color combinations and more!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. kevin miller permalink
    August 1, 2010 9:59 pm

    You are a rainbow! I’ve used dozens of designers in my years of marketing and none of them have anything on you. You have the gift!

  2. August 2, 2010 3:08 pm

    After reading this I used color theory to get dressed today! Amazing post, people should use this more often.

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