How Important is Colour in Design?

Sarah Porter
  • Senior Designer
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I’m a big fan of colour! The more vibrant the better… but that’s just me. Colour is very personal, why else would “what’s your favourite colour?” be one of those cliché questions people ask when trying to get to know someone better?

People react to colours in different ways, depending on their culture, where in the world they live, or just on personal experience. Something as simple as associating a colour with a bad experience can affect your opinion of it.

With so many personal opinions about colours, it can make choosing one for your design a minefield. As with most things design-related, subjectivity often gets in the way. This is why we choose colours based on the emotions they tend to express rather than just based on personal preference. Red for instance, often conjures up thoughts of danger, which is why it is used to indicate warnings and why it is the colour of stop signs all around the world.

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It’s always worth bearing in mind though, that colours have different connotations in different countries. If you’re designing for an international audience, you should be aware of potential hazards. For example, in western countries, white tends to represent purity and innocence and is worn by brides. However, in eastern countries it is the colour of death and is worn for mourning.

Colour conveys a message without words and this is why it is so valuable in design, specifically for branding. Like any other elements of a branding, when you’re choosing colours, they should represent the values and emotions you’re trying to communicate, give a clue as to the quality of your product or service and differentiate from the competition. Choosing a different colour to your competition will help you stand out, which is your ultimate aim.

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Colour increases brand recognition by up to 80 per cent
Maryland Study, University of Loyola
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As colour is so instant, it can affect your mood immediately, whether you consciously realise it or not. So choose well and remember that the reason, “it’s my favourite colour!” is not valid…

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