What Exactly is Color Theory?
Color theory is a complex subject in design and it’s one of the few things that can spark a certain emotion in one person and the complete opposite in another. Certain colors in a design can mean something in one culture and another in a different culture. Color can sway thinking, soothe your eyes, raise blood pressure, and even make you hungry or suppress your appetite.
Colors play an important part of branding and with today’s society brands are everywhere trying to get the consumer’s attention. Color is the number one influential part of any design and picking a color or color scheme for you and your brand can make a significant impact on your company.
So is color theory important to you and your brand? You betcha.
Warm color palettes include red, orange and yellow and any variations of them. These colors are often associated with passion and high energy.
Cool color palettes include purple, blue and green and are slightly subdued from the warm colors. These colors are often associated with nature and calm.
Breaking it Down Further
Red, Yellow, Blue
In traditional color theory, colors can’t be mixed to create these colors, and all colors come from these three colors.
Green, Orange, Purple
These colors are made by mixing primary colors.
Yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green & yellow-green
These colors are made by mixing primary and secondary colors.
The attribute of a color by virtue of which it is discernible as red, green, etc., and which is dependent on its dominant wavelength, and independent of intensity or lightness.
This refers to the intensity of color in an image.
Value is defined as the relative lightness or darkness of a color. It’s an important tool for the designer/artist, in the way that it defines form and creates spatial illusions.
Security, Trust-Worthy, Stability, Loyalty, Wisdom, Confidence, Trust, Friendliness, Preservation, Courage, Science.
Blue is a common color and is most often used as the main color in larger corporations (IBM, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Intel, ATT, GM, Ford) because it conveys all of the above characteristics.
The color blue also puts people at ease and can be a calming and soothing color.
Wealth, Money, Calming, Trees, Ambition, Endurance, Healing, Calm, Generosity, Natural, Completion, Renewal, and Protection
The color green is thought of as nature, life, renewal, growth and energy, as well as money, finances and ambition.
Green can be soothing and can help ease anxiety and depression. (Think Starbucks, Spotify, H&R Block, Whole Foods, Hulu)
Energy, Power, Vigor, Leadership, Courage, Passion, Activity, Joy
The color red is intense, passionate, angry and impulsive. It can raise blood pressure and means danger. Red also means power and courage and can be a tricky color in different cultures. In China, brides wear red to symbolize good luck, but in Russia, it can be associated with communism.
Red also triggers hunger and attracts attention (CNN, Netflix, Disney, Coca Cola, Target). Combined with yellow, it can signify happiness in some brands such as McDonald’s, Burger King, In N Out Burger.
Royalty, Nobility, Luxury, Creativity, Wisdom, Dignity, Magic
The color purple can be associated with wealth and royalty because it is a rare color in nature and was an expensive color to create.
Purple can also be calming and soothing. Dark purple means masculine and power, while lighter purples are more feminine and softer (Hallmark, Cadbury, SyFy).
Optimism, Childish, Freshness, Law, Education, Arrogance
Yellow stands for happiness and hope. It can help activate your memory and build confidence.
Different shades of yellow mean different things. For instance, bright yellow can mean attention, which is why cabs, schools buses, and even road signs are yellow. Yellow is also used at marketing towards children’s products.
Cheerful, Happiness, Passion, Pleasure, Enthusiasm, Fascination, Creativity, Fun
Orange is similar to yellow and red in meaning, but being that it’s a combination of both, it’s milder.
Romantic, Feminine, Love, Beauty