In my last post, I began discussing the basics of selecting the right colors to fit your business/organization/group/competitive riverdance troupe.  As promised, I’m now going to delve a bit deeper into how color can really be used to enhance a design (logo, website, print materials, etc.), with some real world examples.  If used intelligently, color can be so much more than just a decorative element.  It can:

1. Create a Mood

The most effective designs have the ability to make us react a certain way, to feel happy or sad or comfortable or on edge or whatever the situation calls for.  With innate emotional connotations, the right colors can be the single most important factor in creating the right feeling for a particular project.

McDonalds Website

The McDonalds website makes great use of its iconic red color.  Red, besides being one of the colors most effective at stimulating the appetite, can also create a feeling of energy and happiness if used in the right palette.

GLAAD Logo

The logo of the The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation uses a warm palette of orange, gold and pink to create a real feeling of positivity and energy, which combine with the lively icon to create a real message of forward movement.

2. Make an Association

In addition to making us a feel a certain way, the right colors can also make us think of and make associations with certain things, an important consideration if you really want to create the right look.

Skys Guide Service Website

With its deep brown and dark rustic red, the Sky’s Guide Service website immediately makes you think of rough and tough outdoorsmen.  The rich textures enhance the site to create a great visual for the visitor.

UKE LogoDesigned by Jacob Cass, one of our favorite reads on the web, the logo for UKE utilizes a strong, deep purple to make a visual connection with royalty.  Selling chocolate gift baskets to an upscale market, the logo effectively communicates a refined, sophisticated image.

3. Create Emphasis

Through brightness and contrast, color can also be valuable tool to create visual interest in strategic areas and direct the viewer’s focus.

Taami Berry Website

The Taami Berry website utilizes a simple layout and soft, earthy, off-white background augmented with punches of red to direct the visitor’s eye to key elements such as the logo, slider and shopping cart.

UK Space AgencyThe colors of the British flag are used cleverly in the UK Space Agency logo.  Juxtaposed with blue, a calmer, more static color, the powerful red directs your eye to the UK and the focal point of the upward-pointing arrow.

4. Unify a Design

One of the most important functions of a strong and consistent color palette is to unify a design, to give it the appearance of being a single, purposeful, cohesive unit.  Furthermore, across a variety of different materials, a consistent use of color can really strengthen a brand.

Product Superior Website

Product Superior Business Card

The Product Superior logo, website and business card all make use of a bright, distinctive blue and green to create a strong brand for the business.  Perhaps more importantly, these colors are used consistently across all of their materials to create a unified message.

5. Define Structure

Color can be used for organizational purposes as well, to define certain elements of a design and distinguish them from others.  Especially in web design, this can be a useful strategy for creating a clear site structure and hierarchy and for clearly communicating to the visitor where they are within your site.

Business Card Ninjas

Poster Ninjas

White Paper Ninjas

Cubicle Ninjas has a collection of six different one-page websites, each devoted to a different type of print material. The sites make use of a common navigation across the top of the page, but each site is assigned a prominent background color to clearly separate it from the others.  We also see a good selection of color in terms of connotation and emotional reaction; the brown of the white paper site immediately communicates a more restrained, professional tone than the intense red or punchy blue of the poster and business card sites.