If you can use the color theory in photography and painting, then surely you can use it in designing. I explain it in this article with examples of my own work. Read “7 Ways to use color in photography” for the practice of colors in pictures.
Limiting yourself in using colors is a very nice way to add an extra dimension to your way of making designs.
1. Primary and secundary colors
Because of the printing technique I used to limit the colors in a corporate design to 1 or 2, but nowadays with the modern techniques it is just as cheap or even cheaper to print in full color.
Still I will mostly use satured, bright colors. That is to make sure that the logotype can be applied in all kinds of techniques. After all, a corporate design will not just be printed in offset.
In this example of the logo of Exceed Expectations I used the 3 primary colors plus green.
2. Complementary colors
The clearest examples of complementary colors are the pairs red-green, yellow-violet and blue-orange. Red and green together can cause a problem for people that are color blind (and 5% of the male population is!), so you’d better not use that combination in a corporate design.
In the housestyle of Stadsherstel Breda I have used the pair yellow-violet and for Blauw Photography (blauw is Dutch for blue) the color pair is blue-orange.
A color can be mixed with white to make it lighter and with black to make it darker. The funny thing is that we call blue mixed with white light-blue and when mixed with black dark-blue, but we don’t call red with white light-red, neither do we call yellow with black dark-yellow. Those colors completely change character when mixed. So we call red with white pink and red with black turns into brown. Yellow with black becomes olive green.
In my house styles, shades of a corporate color are very common. For instance my own corporate design has shades of purple.
In the pre-computer period, we used a colorsplash in Electron’s corporate style. Those shapes were cut out of red film and combined with the images when lying on the printing press.
5. Warm and cold colors
In this example of a brochure for an investing company the warm brown and ochre colors are a counterbalance to the cold, businesslike color blue.
Blue and red are the most used colors in corporate designs. Personally I think blue is sometimes dull. But tastes differ.
6. Emotion in color
In some house styles, a pronounced color can add much to the message. As in the example of Team Loto Blanco.
The most used color in martial arts is black. Green, and particularly lime green does not occur a lot in the world of Muay Thai and is therefore very noticeable.
7. The symbolic value of colors
In a corporate style, it is important to realize that a symbolic value of a color is not a global given. Yellow is a symbol of heroism in China, where in the West it is the color of hate or cowardice. It’s something to consider when you have to design for an international company.
I had to design a security program for Dow Chemical. Most of it was for the Dutch factory, so I could safely use red as an indicative color for danger.
Do you take differences in colors into account? What are your thoughts? Tell me in the commentbox below.