Even in the wilds of nature, color plays an intensive role in behavior, attraction and aversion. Color is informative. It tells a creature whether or not something is probably safe to eat, as well as whether or not another creature is weakened, sickly or healthy. Color has the power to alter moods. Softer oceanic colors can soothe frazzled nerves, high energy neon colors dazzle and delight the night life crowds, and power colors adorn the workspaces of professionals that understand the profound effect their surroundings can have on their productivity and focus. With so much to be communicated via proper coloration, and with certain tasks being better suited to certain colors, any professional working in commercial printing would do well to put extensive thought into the subtle or explosive messages they are sending with the palette they select for each project.
Successful commercial printing first requires a clear and goal-oriented identification of the overall mood or schema of the project at hand. Publishing with the intent to advertize will usually require a far different set of shades than that required by publishing with the intent to inform. Taking a moment beforehand to clearly define the project goals and intentions will pay dividends down the road in terms of successful and relevant visual themes.
Once the goals are defined, it’s time to choose the best colors for the particular job. Advertizing material, which is always designed to be eye-catching and visually distinct from information surrounding it, benefits greatly from oppositional colors that create strong contrast to the human eye, and thereby increased reactive interest. Notice how often advertizing materials feature dichromatic balloons, banners, or bubbles in yellow and red.
Because these two colors are naturally strong signals for the human brain, due to their wide prevalence in the wild as indicators of food edibility or the shock of blood, they cast a powerful spell all their own upon modern readers. At the same time, their placements on the light spectrum cause them to be mutually enhancing. Red and yellow trimmed informational boxes are even more noticeable than either solid red boxes or solid yellow boxes.
The overall effect achieved by these two colors when synthesized by the human brain is one of heightened attention. Countless other such combinations exist, each with their own varying thematic message. Deep greens, when commingled with dark or soft browns suggest earthy peacefulness, growth and the natural world.
Tinkering with these combinations and allowing time for various color themes to show their ultimate thematic effects can greatly enhance any commercial printing project. Likewise, identifying the target audience of any particular publication and making educated guesses as to their thematic expectations or moods will increase the overall effectiveness of assembled content. Brochures designed to woo potential retirees to a beach community, for example, should display the area being promoted in soft, relaxing, pleasant hues. A mixture between the tranquil blue comfort of sea and sky and the entrancing sherbet swirls of a sunset will strongly deliver the message that it’s time to buy tickets.