Colors aren’t just pretty.

As an optometrist, they taught me to look at colors in one specific way, but as I now create images, planners and journals more often than I examine eyes; I have learnt to look at colors in a whole new way.

Colors give us clues to what group should use a product, the age group the product is for, to denote feelings and much more. In Western culture, we use colors for different types of cancer ribbons. We use colors to describe good and evil, for weddings and funerals and the sex of our children.

Color is a large, and often subconscious, part of our society. But as creators, we also must be aware that cultures put different meanings to colors in the same way they have different words for the same thing. Most of us would not wear a red dress as a wedding dress, but in China, red is the top color for luck and is why my Chinese niece-in-law wore a red dress for her wedding.

Color–Some Science.

Looking at my university roots, I know the eye has three receptor types to pick up color – the trichromatic theory of color vision. I know some people are color blind, well color deficient really so most color-blind people see color but not always the same color as a someone with normal color vision. I know the most common forms of color blindness are problems with either red or green.

I know that color blindness is a genetic problem (unless caused by eye disease, which isn’t common). I know that 10% of all males are color blind to some degree, and less than 1% of woman are.

But what does that mean?

It means

There are over 16 million color blind men in the USA and over 1.6 million women.

This one is worrying – there are up to 18 million Americans who have problems with traffic light colors!

Your husband/wife may not be seeing the same color as you!

Your child’s coloring picture may be as he/she sees the world and not how you see it.

The colors you use to create your journals, planners etc., must provide enough contrast to allow the image or text to be seen. This gets more important if you are creating for an older market as presbyopia (needing reading glasses in middle age) and cataracts will make color perception change.  Cataracts are why Monet painted in the colors he did.

A quick story. When I was at uni. My father told me of a work colleague who couldn’t see color – he only saw black and white. My dad said you always knew when he chose his outfits as opposed to his wife, as he was a riot of mis-matched colors.

Why you should be more color aware as a creator?

You should become more color aware for both your brand and creations.

If you are trying to create a brand, colors help you define your brand. It allows you to harmonize your letter headers, your business cards, and your publicity. It also helps you to state who your customer is.

An example of this is say a planner designer who wants to appeal to the male, over 40, business market. It would not be any good creating a logo or products in pinks or neon green. It would be better to create them in more somber colors and if you want to use the brighter colors, use them as highlighters and use sparingly. Don’t copy Legally Blonde–you must remember it’s a movie.

Likewise, if you want to appeal to an under 30s mummy market, your pregnancy or baby journal would probably sell more if it was in brighter or restful colors. There are exceptions, Goth Moms for example, but they are exceptions. Your logo and brand colors should appeal to the mummy market.

What should you do?

Now is the time to look at who is your market and choose your brand and product colors accordingly. It isn’t too late.

Spend an hour or two, looking at retail websites that sell to the group you want as your customers and then choose a brand color palette that will appeal to THEM.

Next, when you are designing a product, look at the websites again and choose colors that or on trend for them. I like to check the product/color trends every month or so to keep my finger on the pulse.

It doesn’t have to be the whole journal, your tabs or highlighted selections or titles could be in those colors. You could use them with the Pantone Color of the Year which should keep you on trend.

Doing this may not get you a sale, but by giving your customer group a palette that subconsciously appeals to them, they will at least be tempted to look at your product.