AUG '15




Color Matters: How Color Influences Digital Design

how color influences digital design

Imagine the world without colors

A world without colors would be such a dull place. There would be no zing in our life, nothing to underscore our moods and no joy in our existence. Nobody would become green with envy, or red with anger or with a pale white deathly complexion when ill. Colors have a language of their own and they form an important part of our perception of our world and environment. Colors make our world beautiful. Imagine how the world would be like without a blue sky or dusk without an orange tinge of the setting sun? Colors thus form a very important link with our life in the form of our moods, our perception of the world and even our memories.

Sociology is the backbone of color

Colors, besides invoking lots of feeling within us, also influence our thinking and consequently our actions. Certain colors are tied to our cultural, social and emotional experiences and therefore, assume a larger than life aura in our perception. Colors thus become embedded in our subconsciousness. Hence choosing colors keeping the social and cultural significance in mind becomes a very important part in the color design theory. You should be thoughtful about what the chosen color means to your intended audience. For example if you are running an international campaign, you should be sensitive about what a particular color means for a particular audience. If we take the example of red, we know that in western countries, red symbolizes danger, love, passion, excitement and sacrifice. However, the same color in East Asia signifies celebration, happiness, and long life. In the Celtic community, red corresponds with death. In the East European countries, especially Russia, Red symbolizes communism.

Understanding color theory in digital art and design

As per the social scientists, the division between warm and cool colors seems to be woven in the fabric of human existence. Take a look at the logo of coke. Would you prefer to drink coke if the logo was green and purple instead of red and white? This is how the perception of color is tied to the emotional side of our brain and even the perception of tone matters a lot, and consciously or subconsciously affects the choices we make. Anthropologists Paul Kay and Brent Berlin have studied the evolution of color terms in languages around the world. As per their research, European languages have about 11 or 12 basic terms to describe colors. Yet some so-called primitive languages, such as the Newe Guinean Dani, have only two basic terms. Yet it doesn’t imply that speakers of Dani language had poor vision.

Anthropologists suggest that as the languages evolved, it developed the first word concepts around the most psychologically important groupings. For example, cool colors invoke the feelings of winter, night, sky, sleep, and ice. Hence the color blue suggests peace, quiet, rest, and serenity. On the other hand, warm hands such as red, orange and yellow make us think of fire, energy and hot spices. Hence, advertisers use all these warm and bright colors for fast food companies.

How big brands pick their colors carefully?


Take a look at the logo of Amazon. We can observe how the bright orange color on the solid black indicates that it sells everything from a to z and also indicates a smile beautifully. It not only gives the range of products that the brand is selling but through the clever placement of orange smile, gives a welcoming and a warm look to the logo of Amazon.

hidden meaning behind amazon logo


Now let us look at the logo of Vaio. Although the logo is just monochrome, there is a lot that the logo is saying if we look at it carefully. The solid black v and a letters, in the shape as specified in the logo symbolizes the analog, while the remaining i and o letters in the logo symbolize the digital. What an innovative way to represent the range and evolution of a particular company! Kudos to Sony for developing such a thoughtful logo.

hidden meaning behind vaio logo


The peacock in the NBC logo is a great example of how colors can be used to depict a logo vividly. The peacock in the NBC logo stands for beauty and pride, and the different colors in the peacock add to its beauty. From the different colors of the feathers of the peacock emerges its form and shape, which is subtle and yet bold. This is a clever use of colors in the logo. hidden meaning behind nbc logo
Baskin Robbins

Last but not the least, let us take a look at the logo of Baskin Robbins. Can you make out how cleverly through the interplay of colors has the company highlighted the number 31 in their logo, that indicates the number of flavors that the company is offering in its ice creams. Through the use of contrasting colors and by cleverly using the positive and negative spaces, the company has managed to emboss its initials in their logo, while also highlighting a number.

hidden meaning behind baskinrobbins logo

Choose the colors keeping in mind our diversity

Our biology and physiology play an important role in how we perceive color. While designing, you should keep in mind the fact that some people are color blind. Some people may have trouble in reading text up close. Also, while designing for the web, make sure that you take into consideration all the cultural diversity that humans have, especially while choosing colors for international campaigns. In addition, you should choose colors in such a manner that makes your content easy to read. Hence, you should avoid a neon yellow font on a light gray background. Colors inspire us to great things. All of us have our own perception and see the world through our own eyes, and as designers, one should remember the fact that their aim is to make this process as easy as possible.

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