Color Counts: how to make sure you’ve picked the right one

Starting with the basics, think of colors as primary or secondary, warm or cool, and complementary or contrasting. From a designer’s point of view, here are two key points:

  • The human eye is most comfortable looking at warm colors.
  • Complementary and contrasting colors should work to visually enhance your strategy.

Whether you’re using warm or cool colors or engaging complementary or contrasting colors, you also need to keep in mind the social and cultural connotations attached to each color. Just as with words, colors can have multiple meanings. Think of the social and cultural meanings of each color. Then weigh those meanings against the brand, the colors associated with the brand, and its competitors. Also consider your audience’s sensibilities when making color choices. Finally, remember color may be applied to many elements of a layout: type, line, and backgrounds. Visual images too have an expressed color palette.

Adapted from Advertising Creative: Strategy, Copy, Design, 4th edition, Tom Altstiel and Jean Grow


Data source: “The Psychology of Color in Advertising”


For more detailed information about correct color choices contact Bruce Prom, President/Senior Art Director at PKA Marketing.

Watch for Advertising Creative,
4th edition–
January 2016.