The following is an exclusive guest contributed post to Merch Momentum from Hillary Dunks of Dunks Design.
Finding the right color combination for your design can seem a bit daunting since there is an unlimited amount of colors to choose from. Today, we are going to simplify the process and my hope is to make it the most fun step when designing.
Some designs work really well in just black and white, however, if your whole store is just black and white, your brand may not be as effective as it could be.
Colors bring out emotions and make us feel a certain way, this is called “color psychology”.
What is color psychology?
Color psychology is the study of how colors affect perceptions and behaviors. In design, color psychology is focused on how colors impact consumers’ impressions of a brand and whether or not they persuade consumers to consider specific brands or make a purchase. This may sound complicated, but I promise it is not! Let’s break it down.
Each color of the rainbow evokes a different emotion. What emotion or “vibe” are you going for in your design? Are you looking for a positive, uplifting color?
Perhaps a trustworthy, serious color? Maybe you want a fresh, organic look? Or maybe a fun, playful vibe? Check out the color emotions below to see what fits your design message best:
Red: Passion, Excitement, Danger, Energy, Action, Bold, Strength, Motivation, Powerful
Orange: Creativity, Adventure, Enthusiasm, Success, Balance, Cheerful, Strength, Fun
Yellow: Happiness, Positivity, Optimism, Fun, Youthful, Clarity, Warmth, Energetic
Green: Growth, Prosperity, Health, Generosity, Peaceful, Organic, Fresh, Natural
Turquoise: Fresh, Creative, Calming, Healing, Compassionate, Cool, Dreamy, Cleansing, Soft
Blue: Calm, Patient, Cool, Dependable, Credible, Open, Loyalty, Tranquil
Purple: Thoughtful, Luxurious, Intriguing, Romantic, Spiritual, Creative, Visionary, Prestigious, Strength
Pink: Nurturing, Romantic, Intimate, Gentle, Affectionate, Compassionate, Sweet, Delicate, Youthful
Brown: Honest, Wholesome, Earthy, Reliable, Rooted, Warm, Rustic, Organic, Confident
Grey: Cool, Neutral, Timeless, Sophisticated, Modern, High-end, Calm, Serious, Trust
Black: Sophisticated, Serious, Expensive, Dramatic, Mysterious, Elegant, Powerful, Classic, Modern
White: Clean, Pure, Innocent, Simple, Modern, Clear, Sophisticated, Pristine, Airy, Bright
Interesting right? Colors play a HUGE role in how we subconsciously feel about brands, designs and every day objects. Here are some examples of how to apply certain colors to specific designs and their message.
1. For our first example we will be using the phrase, “But first, wine” (A light-hearted, playful women’s shirt). When thinking about this phrase and audience, here are a couple words that come to mind that will help us decide on what color ink and t-shirt to use so this design is effective: Sophisticated, simple, feminine, passion, bold, fun, simple. Based on the color emotions above, we could incorporate a shade of red (perhaps darker/maroon), a shade of pink, grey, white, black. Colors like green, orange, blue and purple would not flow with the emotions we are trying to portray. Remember, you can play with shades of a color to better fit your design. In this case, we would not use a fire engine red, but rather a deeper red like the color of wine. Play with the color of the shirt! Perhaps you have a beautiful maroon colored shirt that would look clean & sophisticated with a white design. Or maybe, a cream colored shirt with a rose colored ink could look nice.
2. For our second example we will be using the phrase, “One more rep” (a CrossFit or workout themed shirt for men & women). When thinking about this phrase and audience, here are a couple words that come to mind that will help us decide on what color ink and t-shirt to use so this design is effective: Strength, motivation, powerful, bold, success, energy, serious, enthusiasm.
Based on the color emotions above, we could incorporate red, orange, yellow and black. Colors like purple, brown and turquoise may not be as effective with this specific message and audience.
3. And lastly, for our third example we will be using the phrase, “Plant Based” (a vegan themed shirt for men & women).
When thinking about this phrase and audience, here are a couple words that come to mind that will help us decide on what color ink and t-shirt to use so this design is effective: Health, organic, fresh, natural, wholesome, earthy, rooted, confident, compassionate, serious. Based on the color emotions above, we could incorporate green, turquoise, brown and grey.
Colors like red, orange, pink and purple would not flow as well with our audience and message.
- Of course there will be some exceptions to this rule! Perhaps your design includes many colors and is not limited to just a couple for a specific message.
- That is fine! Just makes sure the colors flow well together. Using bright neon colors along with earthy, natural colors could throw off your design. Stay consistent with your overall vibe.
- Have fun with color shades. The colors above are just a general guide. Of course there are many shades of each to work with. Explore them and see what looks best with your design.
- Make sure you consider your t-shirt color as well. Perhaps you want your design to be in all white, explore different blank t-shirt colors to see what works best with your message.
Have fun and start thinking in color!