Color, or its absence, is one of the most defining aspects of graphic design. The process to create a color palette for a design can be very time consuming, as there are many aspects of color choice, both aesthetically and practically.

Terms to Know

  • Palette: A specific set of color options. Chosen to be harmonious and elicit certain emotions.
  • Contrast: The amount of difference between black and white in colors. High contrast is essential for body text.
  • Monochromatic: Colors that are all tints, tones, and shades of a single hue.
  • Analogous: Colors that are adjacent on the color wheel. Typically one is the dominant color, while the other two play a supporting role.
  • Complementary: Colors that are opposite on the color wheel. Not appropriate for text.
  • Triadic: Three colors evenly spaced around the color wheel.
  • Compound: Also known as split-complementary, there is a base color and two complementary colors. The other two colors fall to either side of the color opposite the base color.
  • Tetradic: Also known as a rectangle, this palette uses four colors.  Two colors that are two spots apart on the color wheel and their complements.
  • Square: Four colors that are evenly spaced on the color wheel.

Importance of Color

Color has played an important role throughout history. It is used as a means to identify one’s self with an idea, a brand, organization, or other affiliation. In the United States, the two main political parties are identified in red and blue. UPS’s tagline is “What can brown do for you?”  People wear pink ribbons to show support for breast cancer. This is why having a good graphic designer is crucial. He or she will understand the meanings and associations of specific colors and how they relate to each other.

Color Meanings

  • Red: Highly emotional, represents love, power
  • Orange: Inviting, welcoming
  • Yellow: Happy, Cheerful
  • Green: Growth, Sustainable, Natural
  • Blue: Corporate, Reliable
  • Purple: Regal, Modern or Classic depending on shade
  • Black: Luxury, Neutral
  • White: Purity, Neutral
  • Gray: Complementary, Neutral 

If you ever need help with your graphic design work or marketing materials, please don’t hesitate to contact The Belford Group. We’d love to hear from you!