The Science of Color: The Right Hue For your Sign
Next time you’re in a store, restaurant or office, take a good look at the colors around you. How do they make you feel? Are there red “SALE” signs that grab your attention? Maybe light green walls that evoke feelings of relaxation, or orange table tops that make you realize you’re hungry. These color choices aren’t just haphazardly selected. Color plays a huge part in the way we perceive and process the world around us, so choosing the right color for your sign or graphic is an important decision.
Color and Influence
It’s probably something you’ve never thought about before, but whether you notice it or not, color plays a significant role in your decisions. Extensive research has been conducted on the effects of color on the human psyche, and the results have profoundly changed the way retailers market to customers. For example, a study conducted in the early 1980s found that the color “Baker-Miller pink” — a shade named for two U.S. Naval Officers who held the first studies with the color — showed that the pink calmed anxious or aggressive students and decreased distractibility. It’s no wonder the company that produces Pepto-Bismol chose a calming pink for their product. Specific colors are known to evoke a particular emotion and should be taken into consideration when you are selecting a color scheme.
Complementary and Analogous Colors
Let’s do a quick review of the color wheel. Complimentary colors are colors on opposite sides of the color wheel, and analogous colors are those colors on either side of a chosen color. So, the Christmas colors red and green go well together because they are complementary. If you’re not into abrupt color changes, try using the same color family and a slightly monochromatic look to utilize analogous colors. When you’re choosing colors for your graphics or decor, be sure to reference the color wheel.
Contrast is an especially important concept in the printing world. Choosing contrasting colors for your background and text is imperative for readability. You don’t want an orange background and red text, as this would be incredibly hard to read. So how do you know what will work? In the 1992 book Wayfinding, authors Arthur & Passini introduced a formula based on light reflectancy to calculate the contrast between two colors.
Using light reflectancy readings combined with this formula, you can quickly determine which colors are the best option for your signage to get maximum legibility. This is why you’ll often see a red sign with white text instead of black- the white is a better contrast.
With just these tools you can start on your design. Have a sale coming up? You know that red makes people react more quickly. You know that red with white text holds more contrast and better readability than red with blue text. You know you need a straightforward font in a size that’s easy to read. Knowledge is power! If you’re still not sure, check with your graphics printers. Most printing companies, Ferrari Color included, offer design services to make sure you’ve got what you need.
So go with color confidence, and happy printing.