Marketing Color Theory

Marketing Color Theory

When you send out your marketing materials, do you ever consider what your color scheme is saying about your brand to your audience? There are so many components of color usage that as a graphic designer, I find myself constantly researching color theory to pick the correct color combinations for the message we are trying to convey. Often, marketers and office managers consider the text of the message only, not giving a thought to the mood or feeling that they want their audience to have with the piece. This works with promotional products, if you pick a red pen is that telling your audience to be passionate about your products and services? What if you pick a green pen? Does that tell your audience subconsciously that you are Eco-friendly?

Of course all of this is subject to the individual viewer, that’s why they call it theory. Here are the main things I consider when evaluating color in a marketing project:

Warm Colors: Red. Yellow. Orange.

  • Warm Colors tend to be used for calls to action – they can mean passion, vitality, or energy.

Cool Colors: Blue. Purple. Green.

  • Cool Colors can bring up feelings of safety, responsibility, and creativity.  They can bring a soothing emotional response from a viewer.

Neutral Colors: Black. Grey. Beige. Brown. Tan.

  • Neutral colors can go towards both warm and cool color palettes. Sticking to only neutral colors can feel very upscale if done appropriately.


  • Don’t forget to use that “negative” space! White can be very classy as it leads towards feelings of cleanliness, neatness, or purity.

Of course there are more things to consider like Hue, Saturation, Density, Opacity, Composition, etc. If you have a mostly warm color palette, where do you insert cool elements? If your design is mostly neutral, does throwing a pop of color help without changing the feeling you wanted to convey?

One of my favorite tricks in graphic design is using complimentary colors in a design to help push the information forward. An example would be if someone has a logo that is primarily blue, you use orange in the design in a subtle way and the orange and blue will play off each other to help push the dominate one to be the thing that is noticed within the first second someone’s eyes see the piece. The vibrancy of complimentary colors next to each other will literally look like they are vibrating when placed next to each other – that is why so many sports teams use complimentary colors for their branding – it helps intimidate their opponents. Yellow & Purple, Blue & Orange, Red & Green, and all the shades.

I could go on about primary colors and tertiary colors, but instead here is a fun guide to help you when you are thinking about your next project’s color scheme:
color theory graphic designsource: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/01/28/color-theory-for-designers-part-1-the-meaning-of-color/

Need help shopping or a quote?


6888 S Clinton St #101
Greenwood Village, CO 80112

Office: 303.789.4663

Copyrighted Image