color wheelColors are non-verbal communication. They create a physical and emotional reaction. Understanding the meaning of color is important when designing your company’s logo, website, literature and other promotional materials.

Color is an interesting element of graphic design because it can be applied to any element, changing it dramatically. It can be used to make an image stand out, and to evoke emotion.

Cool colors like blue and green tend to have a calming effect. At one end of the spectrum they are cold and impersonal. At the other end, the cool colors are comforting and nurturing. Blue, green, and the neutrals white, gray and silver are examples of cool colors.

Positive attributes of cool colors:

  • Blue – strong, important, peaceful, intelligent
  • Green- growth, health, environment, harmony

Warm colors convey emotions from simple optimism to strong violence. The warmth of red, yellow, pink, or orange can create excitement or even anger. The neutrals of black and brown also carry attributes of warm colors.

Positive attributes of warm colors:

  • Red-  love, passion, heat, joy, power
  • Pink – sweet, nice, romance, playful, delicate
  • Yellow – happy, joy, cheerful, remembrance
  • Gold – riches, extravagance, bright, traditional
  • Orange – energy, warmth change, health

Colors with attributes from both the warm and cool colors can calm and excite. These are colors derived from amix of a cool and warm color such as blue and red or blue and yellow. Typically considered cool, green is really more of a mixed warm and cool color.

Positive attributes of mixed warm and cool colors:

  • Purple –  royal, precious, romantic, sacred
  • Lavender – grace, elegance, delicate, feminine
  • Green –  growth, health, environment, harmony
  • Turquoise – feminine, sophisticated, retro
  • Beige – conservative, relaxing

Neutral colors help to put the focus on other colors or serve to tone down colors that might otherwise be overpowering on their own. To some extent black, brown, tan, gold and beige colors are considered warm. While white, ivory, silver and gray are somewhat cooler colors. These warm and cool attributes are flexible and more subtle than that of reds or blues.

Positive attributes of neutral colors:

  • Black – conservative, mysterious, sophisticated
  • Gray – formal, conservative, sophisticated
  • Silver – sleek, glamorous, rich
  • White – purity, innocence, softness
  • Ivory – quiet, pleasant, understated elegance
  • Brown – earthiness, wholesomeness, simplicity, friendliness
  • Beige – conservative, relaxing

So, what message is your company sending?