Have you ever been particularly moved by the label on a wine bottle or the packaging on a box of chocolates? Chances are, if the designers did their job right, the use of color in the packaging created this emotional response. Color plays an important (and oftentimes subtle) role in the design of all marketing materials. The color selection of your logo, your website, your mailers, and the entirety of your brand and message can psychologically impact your audience. So, choose wisely!
Red, for example, is symbolic of power and sensuality, strong emotion, panic, temptation, hunger, and danger. Red is the most physical color in the spectrum. Red is untamed and unrelenting. Red is so powerful that it must be handled extremely judiciously. However, red, while a color associated with blood, action, passion, aggression, and such, can also be cooled with complementary colors, the same as blue can be warmed. For instance: as color compliments, red and green come together to conjure images of winter holidays. In this case, red is less of a hot color and more of a symbolic color of that particular holiday.
When paired with purple, red sheds some of its aggression for a more regal feel.
Another important point about the red spectrum: suggestions such as “seeing red” or “rolling out the red carpet” each have opposite meanings. But they each get their point across equally as effectively, due to their application and association.
A Color Case Study
But what colors define my products and services, you ask? Good question. To answer this, we must first define the message we are trying to convey.
As we’ve just completed a brand new website for Watts Family Dental in Overland Park, Kansas, I thought that this would be an excellent chance to provide an example for illustrating the use of specific colors in marketing to a specific type of consumer.
In the dental industry, you balance two main messages that you always want to relate to your patients. The first message is Professionalism (quality, skill, accomplishment, dependability, achievement). The second message is Trust (calm, clarity, balance, health, reassurance). Any book on color theory will point you to a couple of colors that encompass all of those messages. They are blue for Professionalism and green for Trust.
Blue is not only the color that elicits a feeling of serenity and tranquility, but it is also associated with high authority, justice, honor, quality, skill, and moral behavior. If you are in the dental profession, you can hardly avoid noticing ads in magazines for toothpaste, floss, mouthwash, toothbrushes, and whitening products. Chances are that each of these advertisements will be predominantly blue. Take a walk under a clear blue sky, down along the shore of a calm sea, and think Lapis, Azure, Sky Blue, Cerulean, Cobalt, and Periwinkle. Blue is authoritative. Blue is respected.
Green is a color that is so plentiful in the surrounding natural world that people respond on a highly-emotional level to the presence of greens. Green is the color we associate with health, trust, harmony, reliability, vitality, balance, as well as refreshing and cleansing thoughts. Step into a field of wind-swept grasses on a bright spring day and think Emerald, Turquoise, Teal, Viridian, Celadon, and Jade. Green is good for you. Green is stress-relieving. A great color for dental websites indeed, wouldn’t you agree?
In the end, these are colors that are consistent with dental (and some other healthcare) industries. There may be a color that defines your industry and business as well. Don’t be afraid to experiment with color, just be mindful of what kinds of emotional responses may be triggered by your selections.
Understand Color Theory
A good designer with the right knowledge about color theory and the emotional impact of color can easily create a color palette to meet the business needs of your marketing materials. They may also add contrast and color compliments to color schemes, websites, marketing materials, etc. that can be used to set off colors in one’s identity or to draw attention around aspects of a page (like guidelines for the viewer’s eye).