Now that you’ve chosen the perfect colors for your company logo or your marketing piece—colors that will gently draw your customers in so they can see the many benefits that await them—is there anything else you can do to add that extra nudge? Yes there is. You can learn to utilize neutral colors to augment your message.
Black is a color of mystery, fear, and sophistication. Because it is an absorption of all other colors as well as their physiological and psychological influences, it can have a whole range of effects. It is often associated with mourning which could be because it represents holding onto all light, all colors, just as mourning is about wanting to hold onto a loved one. However, a great deal of the impact black will have on your design depends on the message being conveyed by the other colors you’ve chosen.
Using black with green lends a prestigious quality to the emotional response of altruism or cultural responsibility you may be seeking through your use of green as the chief color in your design. Using black with brown may be too depressive because the earthy aspects of brown will draw out the darker psychological effects of black. Black used with blue, however, can lend an air of sophistication to your message. The contrast of black used with the stimulating effect of yellow provides a necessary emotional contrast. It can keep the eagerness associated with yellow in check so that your full message is conveyed.
White is associated with purity. Purity is interpreted in many ways: clean, fresh, bright, sterile, carefree, innocence, non-threatening. White backgrounds are often preferred to “busy” backgrounds because its purity does not compete with the message of the other colors. However, you have to be judicious when using white against only black. Against black artwork, white is more likely to convey professionalism or sophistication; however, using black text alone on a white background in a marketing piece tends to point toward a lack of creativity, which can negatively impact the customer’s evaluation of your business acumen.
The purity of white can be used within a design to provide the contrast for highlighting the colors you want to emphasize. Too much white can produce the opposite effect, however.
Gray is a color of balance, rest, and retreat. Like other neutral colors, it has the ability to add positive or negative influences to your design unless you are prudent in its use. If you are seeking to tone down the negative effects of black or white, gray can be the balancing color you need. It can tone down the darker influences of black, shifting it toward its more sophisticated side. Gray also works well with the strong emotional colors, such as red, yellow, blue, and green.
As with all the neutral colors, too much can be well...too much! In the last three posts I hope you’ve learned a little about how dynamic colors are. They are filled with their own energies, and your choice of design uses these energies to convey a specific message. Learning more about colors and acknowledging how they impact people both physiologically and psychologically will keep you ahead of your competitors!