03.23.17

Embrace the Rainbow

This is an exciting time in color trends. We’ve seen “minimalist” design in recent years (by “minimalist,” we mean “black or gray on white” — Think Apple’s Think Different). Designers are beginning to rebel against the ultra-minimal by creating sleek websites and visuals that employ louder, brighter color against a blank white canvas.

Using in-your-face color refreshes the minimalist look and creates a color-oriented visual identity for brands that are paying attention. Google, Instagram and Spotify are examples of companies  embracing bold, vivid color. With unifying color, a brand’s icons, logos and photography style can convey the same visual identity no matter the space. This works especially well for the small display area of smartphones, where color can communicate so much more than copy. With an excellent screen and the processing power of a computer in almost every person’s pocket, there’s no longer a need to dull things down for mobile users.

As fun as this all sounds, it’s not easy to successfully jump on the trend. It takes a trained creative eye to spot a good color combination versus a complete flop. For instance, using duotones (a combination of two bright and often contrasting colors on an image) can be funky and on-trend or a complete disaster. Whether creating a website, social media graphics or print materials, a color scheme can be innovative, unique and beautiful…or headache-inducing, unreadable and confusing.

A trained designer understands how color helps convey nonverbal ideas and feelings. You’ve probably heard that red is a passionate color and blue is calming, but color theory goes much deeper than the basics. So much so that it may have you seeing yellow (used in insane asylums to calm the crazy). Depending on the shade, intensity and other colors used alongside it, blue can evoke feelings of peace, sadness or energy. Deep purple can communicate luxury, while lighter shades may seem romantic and imaginative.

The same hue can take on a different feel when combined with other elements of color. Lime green with a dark terracotta orange gives the impression of earthiness and stability. However, when you add lime green accents to a black design, you’ll achieve an edgy look.

Remember that colors look different depending on the lighting and colors around it. Do you recall “the dress” debate in early 2015? Did you see black and blue or white and gold? In reality, “the dress” was blue with black lace, but due to lighting, differences between screens and even differences in the way individuals perceive color, a piece of clothing sparked a worldwide debate. Who knew blue and black could leave so much to interpretation?

Even as color makes an exciting comeback, remember that it’s a complex tool in the world of design. There’s more to color than meets the eye. But, if you’re in the market for a fresh new look, this is a great time to transform your brand’s website or visual identity!

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