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How to choose the right colours for graphic design?

A layout with logical colours that matches the target group are important factors for success. Take MacDonalds. This fast food giant has recently chosen to replace the red background with the yellow logo with a green background. With this colour change, McDonalds wants to unconsciously influence consumer behaviour and slowly generate more positive associations in our heads. Green logos are associated with sustainable, healthy, natural and reliable.

Colours have a psychological effect on our feelings and emotions. When creating new designs for, for example, logos or websites, it is useful to be aware of this. In this article a few tips you can think of when you start working with colors.

The meanings of colours:

Each colour brings with it a certain feeling. For graphic designs, one might wonder what feeling it should radiate. Should the design pop out, or should it be businesslike, cheerful or maybe even sustainable? Here you can find matching colours. Here are the feelings associated with the most commonly used colours:

  • Red: passion, love, action, aggression, strength, food, danger
  • Orange: energy, warmth, friendly, comfortable, youthful, cheerful
  • Yellow: light, cheerful, energy, playful
  • White: clean, fresh, pure, simple, calm
  • Grey: neutral, dull, safe, reliable, stylish
  • Blue: fresh, businesslike, reliable, freedom, integrity, rest, wisdom
  • Green: sustainable, natural, growing, reliable, healthy
  • Brown: nature, earthy, durable, power
  • Black: mysterious, elegance, exclusivity, darkness
  • Purple: wealth, luxury, spirituality, wisdom
  • Pink: sweet, innocent, youthful, cheerful, romantic

The latest colour trends

In recent years a number of unwritten design rules have emerged, resulting from the latest design trends. To start with, it is best to avoid unnatural and (too) bright colours. Think of bright green, -blue or -orange. These colours are not really up to date anymore. Clear and bright colours often attract attention, but this can also break the logo or the website. Pastel shades and colours based on ‘flat design’ generally bring a more sophisticated image.

Avoid using too many different colours. Prefer one main colour (and possibly a second colour and a third sub-colour), but no more than that. That makes a website or logo very restless. Applying a full surface is in line with simplicity and makes a clear impression. More and more graphic designers are using mosaic patterns. These patterns contain several colours in several shades of a single colour.

Tips in advance

Ask yourself at the beginning of the design process what you want to look like. Look for suitable colours to match. Do you have an idea which colour you would like to use, but you don’t know which additional colours you need to complete the house style? Then it’s useful to create a color palette. Can’t figure it out for yourself? Then use these handy tools to create the most beautiful color combinations: