Next to the actual words themselves, color is one of the most powerful tools in typographic communications. Not only is color used to enhance the overall look and attractiveness of a design, but it can also help create emphasis and hierarchy, establish and reinforce a brand, evoke an emotion, as well as set a specific mood. In many cases, color is what the eye notices first. It can be the element that attracts an audience, whether it be a magazine, advertisement, logo, packaging or product, signage, brochure, poster, greeting card, and a lot more. Specifically, it can enhance the impact of information when used in headlines, subheads, bulleted lists, pull quotes, initial letters, and other typographic elements. For branding, color can create and/or reinforce an identity, as well as impart a feeling of familiarity to its audience.
Color can be used for the actual type, or used in the background to help emphasize the type, which might be black, white, or a color. It can attract and influence a viewer in both overt and subtle ways: color can create visual excitement and variety while drawing the eye to important words, points, or other information you wish to highlight.
The Psychology of Color
What color is used as well as how and where to use it are critical to communicating a particular message. Color can be used to draw attention to important elements, but it can also be used to communicate specific themes and moods. Red, the strongest color in design, is used to indicate power, energy and urgency; blue for a sense of calm, trust and security; green for prosperity, money, healing and environmental themes; pink for love, romance and femininity, and so on. Keep in mind that colors can have different connotations in other cultures, so be sure to do your research when designing for these audiences.
Tips for successful use of color
Take these points into consideration whenever using color:
Create strong contrast between text and background for optimum readability. Similar colors or close values of any colors (the degree of lightness or darkness) will make the text and background blend together, reducing contrast and ease of reading.
Less is more: Too many colors or too many instances of color dilute effectiveness by overwhelming the eye with too many highlights. Color is like an accessory: the more ‘bling’, the less direction it gives to the readers as to where to look at first.
Maintain a consistent palette and color usage throughout. This will keep the overall look of the design or project cohesive so the viewer knows it is all part of the same article, campaign, brand, or identity.
Keep in mind that any design should work well before color is applied. Color should be used to enhance an already successful layout and design, not used as a band-aid for a poor or weak composition.
Color and Production Issues
For accurate color reproduction with no surprises, observe these guidelines:
- Make sure to accurately set the color mode, color palettes and swatch books within your software to match the output: print > CMYK and spot color; web and digital reproduction (including presentations) > RGB.
- When selecting color for print, take into consideration the viewing surface and its reflective or absorption qualities, all of which can affect color, contrast and readability. This includes fabric, glass, metal, foil, ceramic, porous paper, etc.
- When using color for media other than print (websites, e-readers, smartphones, film, etc.), check the appearance and color contrast on as many devices and delivery mechanisms as possible.
- Never rely upon how color appears when proofed on low-resolution devices, as they cannot be depended upon for accurate color reproduction. Not only do these printers vary wildly from device to device as well as print to print, but keep in mind if you are designing for print which is CMYK, most printers use RGB, which will always reproduce differently. (Make sure your clients are aware of this, and be sure to include an accurate color swatch when making presentations!)
- When setting small text in process (CMYK) or RGB color, avoiding using typefaces with hairlines, thin serifs or other fine details that can lose their sharpness and definition when reproduced.
Used well, color is an eye-catching, appealing means to communicate and enhance your message. When choosing color, do it thoughtfully and with careful consideration to how it affects the entire project. The right choice(s) will attract your desired audience, set a mood and direct the viewer to the important information; poor choices can confuse and distract.Tags