A Colourful Design

Colours have different meanings to different cultures. The western meanings are given below.  


Red is a symbol of blood and fire. This colour is second to blue as people’s favorite. Red is the hottest colour with the highest “action quotient”, meaning that most consumers are drawn to this colour. Red strongly appeals to masculinity and is therefore a great colour to select for men’s products. It is also known as a “hunger colour” – and is a good choice for food packaging and specifically, hot or warm foods, such as meat and soup.


Black, a captivating background colour that conveys elegance and sophistication. It is often used to encourage consumers to buy expensive products. Used with white and one or more colours, black can be a startling use of contrast, ideal for invitations, reward programs and other high-end merchandise items.


Although blue is a cold colour, it is the most appealing colour of all. It can be used to exemplify either ice cold or sweetness. Blue is a calming colour and because its easy on the eyes makes it ideal for websites and promotional materials.


Green is a symbol of health, new growth and prosperity. It shows freshness and opportunity and is often associated with plants, health food products and pharmaceuticals.


Depending on the shade, yellow can either be a high-impact, bright colour, or a soft, easy-on-the-eyes one. If the wrong shade is used, yellow appears cheap – so be careful.   Properly used, yellow can exude practically any feeling – from sunshine and fun in the sun to a snuggly new baby product.


Orange tends to make people think of food, and is often included in chocolate wrappings and other edibles packaging.


Long associated with royalty, purple is predominately a feminine colour that creates a luxurious, classic feel. Consumers tend to be drawn to richer shades of this colour.


Brown is traditionally a masculine colour and is also associated with many “good things,” such as earth, gardening, chocolate and coffee. Brown is associated with traditional feelings.

Colour combinations also evoke various reactions. Dark colours are often used for contemplation, while bright, fun, colours are more applicable to impulse purchases. The seasons also play a role in colour selection. Using a non-traditional colour can make a design stand out. For example, if everyone is using pale yellow chicks in April and your mailing piece is bold violet, it will likely stand out from the others. Relaxing and reflective colours should be used when you want a customer to make a purchase, while brighter groups of colour should be used to sell an idea or an event.  

Also, keep in mind your market group. If you are targeting a young crowd, you will likely choose vibrant, fun colour combinations. If you are marketing to a wealthy clientele, consider choosing a combination of burgundy, gold, black or silver – colours that appeal to that customer group.

Colour is all around us. Stop for a moment and consider how colours make you feel as a consumer and transmit these feelings into your next design project.