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The Rainbow Connection - Communicating with colors

Whether you know it or not, color perpetually sends subtle and subconscious messages, and it is everywhere. However, it may be one of the most overlooked aspects of designing communication collaterals like brochures, leaflets, etc.

The Audience

Depending on what your life experiences are and where you come from, the messages that color sends out can vary. So when deciding what colors to use on a brochure, one should be sensitive to the target audience and apply colors accordingly. For example, the color white may be positive in some cultures, but negative in others.

Color Wheel

If you are not sure what this is, do a search on the web and read up on it as it is an important tool. Color wheels present the basic colors and the many shades of each color.

Color Complements

These colors set each other off as they complement each other by color contrast, and are opposite on the color wheel.

Color Harmony

As the term suggests, focus on colors that go together well. You will find these colors next to each other on the color wheel. Believe it or not, our instincts work well here. Humans have a knack (well most of us anyway) to decide what colors go well together when we prepare our clothes ensemble for the day.

Color Depth

Colors can either be in the background or be placed in the foreground. For example, colors like black, dark blue and brown seem to be perfect for a background while other colors like red, orange and white will seem to step into the foreground. As an illustration, imagine a poster with bright blue background with an image of an apple. These two elements will seem to be in conflict as each will fight for your attention.

Culture and Lifestyle

Just because two colors go together or complement each other doesn’t mean that you necessarily want to use them on your project. I opened this article with the meaning of colors, so here is an example, keep in mind that this is just one example from a western culture’s perspective.
Happy = Yellow   Inexpensive = Brown
Pure = White    Powerful = Red
Good Luck = Green   Dependable = Blue
Good tasting = Red   High Quality = Black
Dignity = Purple   Nausea = Green
Technology = Silver   Deity = White
Sexiness = Red   Bad Luck = Black
Mourning = Black   Expensive = Gold

So in designing, it’s important to know what colors mean and how they are perceived. You can now see why a black background with green type could be bad especially if your target audience thinks that black represents mourning and green makes them sick. There are exceptions to every rule of course.

You may want to include some research in what colors mean to your target audience. For example, colors that would get the attention of an older person may not attract a young teenager and vice-versa. For example, black and green (Movies like “Shrek” popularized green!) may be received by a younger target audience as cool.

So work on it and use your research wisely, applying it to your background and accent colors. Remember to also pay attention to the colors used on your photos.

If you need professional helpwith your brochures, leaflets or awareness/marketing campaigns, contact Nota Bene Communications so that we can help you get started. Consultation is FREE and there are no strings attached. Call us now at +65 684 11291 or send us an email at

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