Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holiday Schedule

Happy Holidays from Creative Characters!

To give our valued staff a well deserved rest
and time to spend with their family and friends,
we will be closed
Friday, December 21st through
Tuesday, January 1st.

We will re-open promptly at 8:30 am
on Wednesday, January 2nd.

Please check your documents, forms and stationery to see if you will need anything while we are away. As always, we are eager to help, so please give us a call now at (215) 923-2679 if you need anything.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Psychology of Color

This post is about color. Usually we talk about color theory – the science of color – or how color can differ based on visual perception, light source and color output device.

In this post, we’re presenting something new: the psychology of color. Marketers have long used color to influence customer behavior and choice, and color is a very important concept in branding (think of Coca Cola red or IBM blue). And while you may think color has the greatest importance for consumer products, it is also critical for a business or organization’s visual image in printed marketing material, their website and web-based communications.

If your marketing materials were developed years ago, it may be time for a color tune-up to create consistency, uniformity and to take into consideration the psychology of color. And if the existing colors of your logo and marketing material were selected based solely on someone’s personal preference, a tune-up may be critical. For a free color focused evaluation, just give me a call at (215) 923-2679.

Can you provide some guidelines for selecting the color scheme for my website?

Because color is the first thing a visitor to your website will notice, it is important to choose the color scheme wisely. Select the wrong colors and your website may be so difficult to read that the viewer leaves quickly, or the viewer may subconsciously form an impression of your company, product or service that isn’t favorable.

The first choice is a background color, followed by two other dominant colors for the site. Here are four color schemes to help you organize your choices:
  • Monochromatic. Uses varying shades of a single color.
  • Complementary. Uses colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. Side-by-side complementary colors make each color appear brighter. Some complementary colors (like red and green) may appear to vibrate when side-by-side.
  • Analogous. Uses colors that are next to each other on the color wheel, sharing the same undertones. Analogous colors harmonize when placed next to each other.
  • Triadic. Uses three colors on separate ends of the color wheel. Determine triadic colors by selecting a color, then drawing an equilateral triangle with the selected color as the base point.
Two other tips for web design: a high contrast between elements (like the background and the text) guides the reader’s attention and is more easily readable; and the brighter the colors, the more mental energy will be required of the viewer.
In the Fabric Land example above, there is little contrast between the yellow letters and red background of the box in the center. The bright yellow homepage background with red elements is too vibrant, causing eye strain. On the other end of the spectrum, the mobile website for Aim Academy has high contrast between background colors and text. It’s easy to read and viewers are likely to stay on the site longer to explore.

Influencing Buyer Behavior With Color

Our world is rich with color – in nature, in our homes and offices, in our clothing, in the visual images on our computer screens and personal communication devices, and in the printed materials we read. Not so long ago using full color in business printing added expense and time to production.

Not anymore. Digital printing devices have dramatically changed the economics of full color printing, leading to expanded use of color in branding, advertising and printed products. This change means that business owners and marketing executives need to understand the psychology of color and how it can be used to influence buyer behavior.

Colorful Facts

Color results from energy waves grouped together in a color spectrum. In 1666, Sir Isaac Newton observed the visible spectrum – violet, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. A rainbow is a familiar representation of the visible spectrum.

Color has three dimensions – hue, value and chroma. Hue is warmer and cooler. Value is lighter and darker. Chroma is clearer and grayer.

Colorants are the materials used to produce color – inks, toners, pigments, dyes or phosphors.

Color influences moods, feelings and behavior

Just as graphic design enhances the power of ideas being communicated to an audience, the color choices used in a design also work on the audience to invoke a response or influence behavior. For an example, look at the difference between these two logos:

NOTE: This makeover appears in the new book “Logos Redesigned:
How 200 Companies Successfully Changed Their Image” by David E. Carter.

The psychology of color is the study of emotional response to color and has become an important consideration in advertising and product design. In fact, color is so important in branding that in 1985 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that colors can sometimes be a trademark-eligible designation of origin (think Coca-Cola or IBM).

Color psychology

How an individual reacts to color is influenced by culture, ethnicity, gender and age as well as the specific shade of the color. Kate Smith, CMG, CfYH, a recognized color expert and the founder and contributing editor of, explains the general responses to color for people in the Western Hemisphere in her article, A Glimpse into the Meaning, Symbolism and Psychology of Color. According to Kate, the responses are based on research, historical significance of color and word association studies.

Invoking human emotion to sell a product or service is not new. Just be sure you consider the psychology of color and its likely effect on the audience. Kate’s analysis can be found below.
  • Red has more personal associations than any other color. Recognized as a stimulant, red is inherently exciting and the amount of red is directly related to the level of energy perceived. Red draws attention, and a keen use of red as an accent can immediately focus attention on a particular element.
  • Orange, a close relative of red, sparks more controversy than any other hue. There is usually strong positive or negative association to orange and true orange generally elicits a stronger “love it” or “hate it” response than other colors. Fun and flamboyant orange radiates warmth and energy.
  • Yellow shines with optimism, enlightenment, and happiness. Shades of golden yellow carry the promise of a positive future. Yellow will advance from surrounding colors and instill optimism and energy, as well as spark creative thoughts.
  • Green occupies more space in the spectrum visible to the human eye than most colors, and is second only to blue as a favorite color. Green is the pervasive color in the natural world, making it an ideal backdrop in interior design because we are so used to seeing it everywhere.
  • Blue is the overwhelming “favorite color.” Blue is seen as trustworthy, dependable, and committed. The color of ocean and sky, blue is perceived as a constant in our lives. As the collective color of the spirit, it invokes rest and can cause the body to produce chemicals that are calming; however, not all blues are serene and sedate. Electric or brilliant blues become dynamic and dramatic – an engaging color that expresses exhilaration. Some shades of blue may come across as cold or uncaring.
  • Purple embodies the balance of red’s stimulation and blue’s calm. This dichotomy can cause unrest or uneasiness unless the undertone is clearly defined, at which point the purple takes on the characteristics of its undertone. With a sense of mystic and royal qualities, purple is a color often well-liked by very creative or eccentric types and is the favorite color of adolescent girls.
  • Pink can be youthful, fun, and exciting, and some have the same high energy as red; they are sensual and passionate without being too aggressive. Toning down the passion of red with the purity of white results in the softer pinks that are associated with romance and the blush of a young woman’s cheeks. It’s not surprising that when giving or receiving flowers, pink blossoms are a favorite. Pink is the color of happiness and is sometimes seen as lighthearted. For women who are often overworked and overburdened, an attraction to pink may speak of a desire for the more carefree days of childhood.
  • Brown says stability, reliability, and approachability. It is the color of our earth and is associated with all things natural or organic.
  • Gray is the color of intellect, knowledge, and wisdom. It is perceived as long-lasting, classic, and often as sleek or refined. It is a color that is dignified, conservative, and carries authority. Gray is controlled and inconspicuous and is considered a color of compromise, perhaps because it sits between the extremes of black and white. Gray is a perfect neutral, which is why designers often use it as a background color.
  • Black is authoritative and powerful; because black can evoke strong emotions, too much can be overwhelming. Black represents a lack of color, the primordial void, emptiness. It is a classic color for clothing, possibly because it makes the wearer appear thinner and more sophisticated.
  • White projects purity, cleanliness, and neutrality. Doctors don white coats, brides traditionally wear white gowns, and a white picket fence surrounds a safe and happy home.