When it comes to creating eye-catching signage, color is extremely important. While it may seem like a simple aesthetic choice, picking the right colors for a particular sign can seriously impact effectiveness. It’s not enough to use green or blue just because those are the hues you think are the nicest. Even a beautiful sign can be easily missed if it doesn’t command the right type of attention.
Any artist or designer will tell you that different colors provoke certain reactions in onlookers, but you may be surprised to find that psychologists have extensively researched the subject too. Below you’ll find common color associations as well as advice for how to apply this information to your business’s signage.
The color red calls to mind anger, passion, excitement and extreme emotions. One of the most physically arresting colors, it’s also known to promote impulse buying, increase heart rates, and convey a sense of danger.
Given these associations, red is an excellent choice for safety and warning signs, as it’s sure to attract attention and stop onlookers in their tracks, giving them time to absorb important messaging. It’s also great for advertising sales or promoting exciting events. It’s best to stay away from red when creating signs for what is supposed to be a calm, quiet environment, such as waiting rooms, offices or classrooms.
Green is fresh, giving off a cheerful vibe, with the added connotations of safety and healing. It has been known to relax onlookers and relieve tension and, thanks to traffic lights, is also seen as a universal sign for “go”.
For signs, green can be used for its calming effects, a popular choice for the Healthcare and Financial industries. It can also be used to designate safe spaces or entrances.
Similar to red, yellow is typically vibrant, highly noticeable and difficult to miss. However, unlike red yellow is seen as a joyful color, and it stimulates mental activity.
Yellow is best used sparingly, as when there’s too much of it the effect is often jarring. It is typically used for signs that mean caution, or for traffic signs. It’s a great, highly noticeable color that really makes outdoor signage pop.
The calmest color, blue signifies tranquility. It has been known to slow human metabolism and often acts as a symbol of purity and serenity.
Restaurants should stay away from the color blue due to its tendency to stifle appetites. But for many other industries, blue is a very attractive color with a wide variety of uses. Incorporating blue into your general branding can have a very positive effect on customers and clientele.
Orange is the color of heat and warmth, not as jarring as red or yellow but still attention-grabbing. It’s been known to stimulate happiness and enthusiasm.
Orange has very high visibility, but it is often rated as a “least favorite” color. So it is best used sparingly, on elements of signage that really need to capture the audience’s attention.
Thinking critically about color from the start of the design process will help you achieve a final result that’s as effective as it is pleasing to the eye.