Colour as a topic is a very large terrain that cannot be totally addressed in a short article.
People decide whether or not they like a product in 90 seconds or less. 90% of that decision is based solely on color.
Color is perception. Our eyes see something (the sky, for example), and data sent from our eyes to our brains tells us it’s a certain color (blue). Objects reflect light in different combinations of wavelengths. Our brains pick up on those wavelength combinations as a phenomenon we call color.
When you’re strolling down the soft drink aisle scanning the shelves filled with 82 million cans and bottles and trying to find your six-pack of Coke, what do you look for? The scripted logo or that familiar red can?
People decide whether or not they like a product in 90 seconds or less. 90% of that decision is based solely on color. So, a very important part of your branding must focus on color.
RGB: the additive color mixing model
Humans see colors in light waves. Mixing light—or the additive color mixing model—allows you to create colors by mixing red, green and blue light sources of various intensities. The more light you add, the brighter the color mix becomes. If you mix all three colors of light, you get pure, white light.
TVs, screens and projectors use red, green and blue (RGB) as their primary colors, and then mix them together to create other colors.
Why should you care?
Let’s say you have a very distinct brand with a bright yellow logo. If you post the logo on Facebook, Twitter or your website and don’t use the correct color process, your logo will appear muddy instead of that bright yellow. That’s why, when working with files for any screen, use RGB, not CMYK.
CMYK: the subtractive color mixing model
Any color you see on a physical surface (paper, signage, packaging, etc.) uses the subtractive color mixing model. Most people are more familiar with this color model because it’s what we learned in kindergarten when mixing finger paints. In this case, “subtractive” simply refers to the fact that you subtract the light from the paper by adding more color.
Traditionally, the primary colors used in subtractive process were red, yellow and blue, as these were the colors painters mixed to get all other hues. As color printing emerged, they were subsequently replaced with cyan, magenta, yellow and key/black (CMYK), as this color combo enables printers to produce a wider variety of colors on paper.
Why should you care?
You’ve decided to print a full-color brochure. If you’re investing all that money into your marketing (printing ain’t cheap!), you expect your printer is going to get the colors right.
Since printing uses the subtractive color mixing method, getting accurate color reproduction can only be achieved by using CMYK. Using RGB will not only result in inaccurate color, but a big bill from your printer when you’re forced to ask them to reprint your entire run.
The color wheel
I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, the best part about going back to school in the fall was getting that new, pristine 64-count box of Crayola crayons. The possibilities seemed endless. Until I’d inevitably lose the black crayon.
Understanding the color wheel and color harmonies (what works, what doesn’t and how color communicates) is just as exciting as that new box of crayons. No really.
Being able to understand the terms and processes that go along with color will help you knowledgeably communicate your vision with your designer, printer, or even (maybe) an Apple Store Genius.
Here are eight basic design principles to keep in mind when working with visuals and creating graphics.
References: 99designs.com, www.rasmussen.edu, www.colourtherapyhealing.com
Thanks for reading!