Color Theories to Back-up Your Design
  by:  |  Jan 3, 2022
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Last updated on January 23rd, 2024 at 12:48 am

There is more to color than what initially meets the eye; it is how people react to it. Color is essential in any design, and we should know how to make the most out of it. In truth, once we know what colors represent whom and what a particular color works with what, we can take advantage of this single design element to make people respond.

Colors and Their Meaning

To help further discuss how to use colors, let me enumerate insights on how the general public relates to and perceives color. Here are the primary colors and how most people generally relate to them. However, note that these may change depending on the color’s saturation and intensity.

Warm Colors

These are the colors that we often associate with fire and energy. These colors tend to elevate forward in space and attract attention. It is helpful to note that it can overwhelm your content if not utilized properly.


This color is often associated with fiery passion or anger and an overwhelming sense of danger or excitement. Along with orange, red is a very appetizing color. Thus, designers use red in countless food advertisements. People regard red as a lucky color in the east, especially in China. As a color that one can associate with power, energy, and speed, it can be best used for sports items and for parts of the design that needs to evoke action from the audience.



Red’s usually strong character is subdued when white is added to red, and fiery and powerful becomes associated with gentleness and femininity. It is even used to signify tenderness and love.



A mixture of red and yellow is almost as fiery as red and as joyful as yellow. It is associated with autumn, summer, and citrus fruits (thus the color’s name) and can stimulate appetite reasonably well. Orange usually represents happiness, enthusiasm, encouragement, and energy. It may also mean creativity and affordability.




The color of sunshine. It is associated with joy, intellect, optimism, liveliness, and energy. It is also associated with food. Among warm colors, yellow (in its pure, bright form) grabs the most attention. That is why most road signs and taxi cabs are yellow and black. Also, due to its liveliness, you can use this color to promote products targeting children and youth.

However, this color can become unstable and too bright at times and cause people to become overwhelmed. There is a rumor that babies cry more in yellow rooms than older ones tend to want to get out more often.


Cool Colors

If warm colors advance in space, cool colors do the opposite; they recede and rarely overpower other elements in the design. These colors are often associated with the sea and the sky and indicate stability and serenity.


The color of nature. You can always use it to promote environmental products and fresh, healthy food. This color symbolizes hope, growth, fertility, and youth. Many people associate this color with money and worldliness, as people would go “green” in envy.




Blue is the color of the sky and the sea. It symbolizes tranquility, truth and trust, security and unity. If warm colors can boost appetite, blue tends to suppress it since almost no food comes naturally in blue. This color also has a calming effect and is usually used as a background color for countless print and online designs.




A vibrant red and stable blue mixture is often related to mystery and wealth. This color can signify power, ambition, creativity, wisdom, romance, and magic.



As the name suggests, they neutralize other colors, both warm and relaxed, which could be overpowering on their own. They are subtle and often give a sense of space, thus highlighting other elements with more robust qualities. Neutrals go best with anything and could be used in almost any design.


This color represents peace, purity, and simplicity. It lends a sense of space to your design since any color (except perhaps for yellow) would be highlighted. It also signifies cleanliness, thus its usage in hospitals and many health-related products.



Brown can be associated with stability and reliability. Being the color of the earth can signify feelings that are of rustic and sentimental nature. It can also indicate reliability, safety, endurance, and a sense of home. Different tones of brown or near browns make perfect backgrounds since they can help other colors stand out.



This color is often related to evil, mystery, fear, and death. It might be because no one can see in the “black” of the night where many things cannot be explained, thus the fear of the unknown. But undoubtedly, this color lends all sorts of design the sense of elegance, formality, prestige, and power.


Designers use black in high-end beauty products, clothing lines, and products targeting the male audience. It can also be used as a background to give depth. In this case, there will be a need to make the text much lighter for readability.

Color Combinations and Schemes

Now that we have a background to what colors our targeted market would likely associate our products with, let’s take a short course on color combinations.


Monochromatic– This color scheme uses just one color and its different tints and shades.



Achromatic– technically, this scheme does not have a color other than black and white and all tones in between.

achromatic color scheme


Complementary– these are colors that sit 180 degrees on the color wheel precisely right across from each other. It does not necessarily compliment (check the spelling), but the colors compliment or complete each other. It is rather hard to use since many people do not appreciate the combination.





Split Complementary– One color across from two other colors that are equally spaced from each other.





Double Complementary– 2 pairs of equally spaced colors that sit right across each other





Analogous– a relationship wherein colors are adjacent to each other.





Triad– three colors that are equally spaced from each other.





Color Scheme Generators

You could have decided on what colors to use in your logo design, but selecting what colors would go with it in your print materials could be another problem.

If all else fails, use a color scheme generator to make your tasks easier. Color scheme generators help users find the colors that work with an initial bloom of their choosing. Even professional designers dry out of ideas every now, and when they do, they get some help. Check what the professionals use in generating color combinations that work pretty well for them and their clients.

Why Should You Care About Color?

As mentioned earlier, color is an essential part of a design. It represents your company, branding, and representation. The color you use can influence the meaning of the text, how you want your company to be defined, and controls what your customers feel.

Your color can kindle emotions, soothe users, or even annoy them. So if you don’t use the correct color in the process, your design might affect your company’s B2B Marketing Plan, Advertisement, and even revenue.

We hope that we were able to help inspire you in designing your custom print materials. For more design ideas, subscribe to our RSS feed. Also, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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