- Choices for sign color depend greatly upon the environment.
- Consider colors that have contrast and stand up to the elements.
- Choose colors that convey your desired emotion.
Picking a color should be simple, right? Preschoolers do it every day! Unfortunately, there are a lot of factors that make the issue of color choice far more complex than finger painting.
It’s time to cut through the clutter. When it comes to choosing the right color for your sign, psychology and color theory can often be boiled down to two simple questions.
Can You Read It?
There is no question more important than that. If people can’t make out what’s on your sign, then absolutely nothing else matters.
The first step to ensuring legibility is high contrast. You need your text to be as different from your background as possible, in terms of both color and brightness.
The obvious answer is black text on a white background. It works, but can be a bit boring. Don’t forget that very dark and very light versions of any color can work almost as well. For example, a florist might use a very deep red background with very light pink lettering.
Another factor to consider is distance. How far away do you expect someone to be able to read your sign?
The further away you need your sign to be readable, the more you should consider making your text white against a dark background. This combination is easy on the eyes while remaining highly visible.
What if your sign is outdoors? What’s the best color for sunlight? How about night?
It turns out the human eye is great at spotting a particular color no matter what time of day it is: green. So if you need an outdoor sign to be visible from a distance, outdoors, day or night? Try white lettering on a green background.
Ever wonder why highway signs use those colors? Now you know.
It does you no good to have a beautiful green sign if the surrounding area is a very similar shade. Always scout ahead and think about what will stand out in the exact spot you plan on putting up your sign.
Finally, you need to consider the local angle. On a broader level, purple might be associated with things like creativity and royalty. But in your town? That might be the color of the high school football team. Better to rethink your design than to cause confusion.
How Does it Make You Feel?
Now that the practical part is handled, we can start having fun. From a creative standpoint, color choice is all about getting an emotional reaction from your viewers.
Want people to come buy some of your ice cream on a hot day? Design with blues and purples to give them a sense of cold.
Earthy greens, browns, and yellows are great to make people associate your sign (and therefore your business) with calm, peace, and natural beauty.
How about letting customers know about your fun atmosphere. When they see pops of bright colors, they might not realize that they’re associating your sign with confetti and party streamers. But that’s okay. You’ll know.
All that being said, there are some final practical considerations to discuss. You have to know your sign’s environment.
You Are the Driver
In the end, all the color theory in the world is just a handy guide. The choices are yours, and you’ll need to trust your eye and your instincts to make them. And with this handful of practical considerations, you’re well on your way.
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