Colour me crazy – how to understand colours


Of all the steps in any design process, choosing the correct colours can be the most challenging. Because colour is such a subjective feature, it’s incredibly hard to pinpoint what works best. What is appealing to one person may be completely off target for another.

Poor colour choice can negatively affect your message. Get it wrong, and your whole design could easily be ignored or heartily disliked. So, what to do?

Psychology behind colour

The right colour choice will get your audience to see, feel, and act on your message. That’s why it’s best to brush up on what you know about colours and the emotions they evoke. Have a look at this helpful infographic via

If at first you don’t succeed – return to the colour wheel

The colour wheel or colour circle is the basic tool for combining colours.

Did you know? The first colour wheel has been attributed to Sir Isaac Newton, who in 1706 arranged red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet into a natural progression on a rotating disk. Click here to read more about the history of the colour wheel.

The colour wheel is a visual representation of colour theory. The wheel arranges colours according to their chromatic relationship. Primary colours are positioned equidistant from one another and are connected by a bridge using secondary and tertiary colours. Source:

Did you know? Blue is one of the most preferred colours, with the most positive connotations.  Source:

Dig a little deeper

There is no harm in explaining to your client the effect personal biases can have on a chosen colour scheme. Once your client becomes aware of his/her own personal colour connotations, he/she will be able to differentiate between an emotional and a logical choice. By helping your client become aware of their own colour prejudices, you will help them to make a decision from an objective point of view. Take the following into account when talking to your client:

  • Personal preference
  • Upbringing
  • Context
  • Cultural background

Have a look at this clever infographic via Louise Myers Social Media Marketing Tips:

The first step to any successful design is through understanding, and respecting, the significance behind colour.  Without giving thought to the meaning of the colours you choose, you risk losing the impact of the message you are conveying.

 Don’t get lost in translation. Learn the language of colour!

Check it out

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