Welcome to part three of my series on the importance of color usage in design. This week I’ll talk about creating a killer color palette. When you are choosing a single color, as we talked about last week, it is vital that you know the meaning that the color holds. This becomes even more important when we start to talk about combining colors with each other to create a palette that has color harmony. Color harmony is when
colors complement each other, and work to bring emphasis to your message. Not only do you have to keep in mind the meaning of each individual color, but you need to be aware of how the colors are perceived when they are combined together. Knowing how to choose combinations of colors is something that will create value for your services. Your choices should be a cohesive part of your concept. When researching your color palette, the most important factors to consider are your target audience, your concept and message, and your client themselves. If you remember all of these, choosing colors and creating a dynamic palette will come relatively easily. Choosing your colors can be one of the most exciting parts of being a designer; to be able to “make” people feel what you hope they will without saying a word, is pretty amazing.
One of my clients is a company that manufactures playground surface safety testing equipment. My research showed that there are other companies who make similar devices but neither have logos that speak to what the company does. I found that the target consisted of city officials, school superintendents, as well as anyone who may have a playground. The ParkLab is a safety tech company with fresh new ideas and the owners have years of experience in the playground industry. After my research I was able to choose the colors for this logo carefully and thoughtfully. So when I presented to the client there was no question about my choices. My mastery of colors to create a harmonized color palette gave them the confidence that what I presented was the very best choice. I proved my expertise by being able to explain the reasons I chose each color.
I decided to use three different shades of green: a lime green that feels friendly and also embodies the youthfulness of a playground; a bright green to represent that the company will always be growing (green is obviously associated with grass/parks also), and a dark green to show that they are trustworthy and reliable. The grey grounds the logo and conveys stability, security, trust, and maturity. Playground safety is serious business but parks are also fun, so I wanted to be sure to incorporate not just the serious but also the playful.
The colors I picked work together to form a cohesive palette that strengthen the concept that ParkLab is approachable and growing with fresh ideas, but is also trustworthy and experienced.
The target will be attracted by the bright and somewhat playful greens but be reassured that the company knows what they’re doing by the more grounding grey and dark green. The client was thrilled with the color palette and logo because it reflects who they are and sends the all the right messages. In the end, I was able to make a palette that works to achieve the goals for the client and appeals to the target.
Research was the key to the success of this logo and is the foundation for every single one of my design choices no matter what the project may be. Your colors should be a part of a well-integrated process; from research to implementation. Even if multiple color palettes could potentially work in your design, your research will help your choices to be drastically narrowed and you can make your best educated decision as a designer.
When you know what you’re trying to do, why you’re trying to do it, and who you’re trying to do it for, your colors will practically choose themselves.
Creating a killer color palette is as simple as doing your research. While black and white designs can be very dynamic and engaging, adding color to a design will breathe life into it. Your colors should be chosen wisely,and used cleverly and imaginatively; this will make the most effective palettes. Be an intimate observer of your surroundings, process the colors you see used all around you-collect them. By combining unexpected colors to create a cohesive palette, you can make something excitingly unique. Unique color choices can make your designs stand out and in turn, you will stand out.
I hope this series on color has been enough to show you the importance of color, the meaning of color, and how you can use color to create a killer color palette by using research. If you haven’t already I would love for you take the time to read Part 1 & Part 2 of this series. More posts on color are sure to come at some point in the future so stick around. Design is a wonderful world, I hope you’ll join me here. Because design matters.
Sea is actually my given middle name. I believe that my name has helped to shape who I am as a person and as a creative. It makes me unique and gives me a desire to create interesting and brilliant design solutions for my clients. Independent Creative Director, Graphic Designer, Typophile, Brand Strategist, Business Owner, Writer, Photographer, Professor.
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