The Essential Guide to Colors and What They Communicate

Color usage can either make or break your designs. When new visitors land on your blog, the first things they interpret are colors. Before they read a single character, their brain is registering colors which are subconsciously (or consciously) tied to emotions, states of mind, or preconceived ideas. If you do a poor job at putting together the colors in your blog design, it can be detrimental to the growth of your brand.

Here’s an essential guide to what colors communicate.

Red                               

This happens to be my favorite color– as if you couldn’t tell. Red is the most eye-catching and exciting color in the entire spectrum. It’s eye-catching, exciting, and demands attention. But did you know that the color red actually increases your heart rate?

It is perfect for accent colors, calls to action, or anywhere you want to draw people’s attention. Be careful though, because overuse of this color can cause a negative emotional response.

Orange                     

Probably my second favorite color. Orange is also an attention getter. Distinct from red, orange is a color that is mostly associated with fun, ambition, and youthfulness.

It is also a great color to use for accents and calls to action. Unlike red, it is not as easily overused.

Yellow                     

This is the official color of optimism and happiness. Maybe that’s why smiley faces are always this color. Studies have shown that the color yellow actually causes the release of serotonin in the brain, which is a chemical that positively stimulates your brain. Basically, it produces “happy” chemicals!

This color is also best used in small amounts. Too much yellow can be overpowering and shouldn’t be used as a dominant color in a scheme.

Green                       

This is the easiest color for the human eye to process. It’s easy to look at and is associated with growth, nature, and money. It can also be a very relaxing color for some, which is why you’ll see it used in a lot of leisure and “zen-like” design. If your goal is to communicate growth this is the color you want to use.

Blue                           

The color of trust and loyalty. Blue is associated with calmness and security. Most people would say that blue is their favorite color. It has been documented to lower heart-rate, foster relaxation, and increase productivity. Maybe this has something to do with why a billion people trust Facebook with all their information.

This is a very safe color to incorporate into your design. Since it’s most people’s favorite color, you’ll immediately appeal to a wider audience.

Violet                      

A color that has traditionally been associated with royalty and prosperity. Studies have shown that the color purple actually stimulates problem solving in the human brain. That’s interesting.

Caution though, studies have also shown that overuse of this color can give people the impression of falsehood, or being fake. Use this color as an accent, and sparingly.

Grey                         

A solid, timeless color that communicates strength, sturdiness, and longevity. Likely because things that are grey have these same attributes: steel, concrete, stone, Apple products, etc..

You can never go wrong when incorporating this color into your design project. It can be a great alternative to white, and give things a modern, yet timeless, look.

Brown                    

Earthy and organic is what best describes this color. Dirt, trees, potatoes– all things found in the earth. It’s also the color of my favorite beverage– coffee! When used properly, it can be a soothing element and give an organic feel to your design.

White                      

The lightest color both visually and in psychological weight. It gives a light feel to your design, and is best used to give your design breathing room. Associated with purity, cleanliness and clarity I think white is a great color to incorporate into any design.

Black                     

The color of elegance, power, and authority; boldly stated and seemingly unshakeable. If you’re trying to communicate strength be sure to incorporate black into your design.

I am of course talking about all these colors in their most basic form. Surely a neon green will be more attention getting than a dull red any day of the week. So these are merely a starting point and general guide to what colors communicate.

About the Author

Hello, I’m Dustin W. Stout and I am an entrepreneur, digital marketing consultant and speaker who’s learned how to make a living from doing things I love. From home. Feel free to check me out on Facebook. You can read more about my story here.