Color and typography is an important part of our daily interactions with the world around us. In fact, when you wake up, you probably look at either your alarm clock or your phone to check the time. Do you remember the color of those numbers? Is your clock analog or digital? Did you wake up to an actual clock-face or a numerical readout? My alarm clock readout looks similar to this.
If we do a bit of research, based on historical designs of alarm clocks and clock faces, the colors of your household timepiece would probably be high contrast compared to their background, so red, green, blue or white numbers on a plain black background (or black numbers on a white background) is a fairly typical color combination for both analog and digital watches and clocks. Of course, clocks and watches these days come in all colors of the rainbow, so these colors ultimately boil down to personal preference and the availability of different colors.
On a similar note, color definitely has a psychological effect on people. If my clock had light blue numbers and a white background, I might go right back to sleep instead of waking up because light blue and white colors remind me of clouds and the sky, imagery which relaxes me. My alarm clock is anything but relaxing with its bright neon green LCD numbers and it’s loud “beep beep beep”-ing until I physically get out of bed and switch it off. By the time I finish that routine, I’m awake. The alarm clock has done its job and I’m starting my day…
As we have learned, and I’ve noticed time and time again as a marketing professional, the use of specific colors is influential in advertising and encouraging (or discouraging) people’s consumer habits. For example, bright green, neon orange, and neon yellow are excellent eye-catching “signal” colors when selling food or grocery items. The colors naturally draw your eyes to the item being sold. (Even if you don’t want to look at something but the color catches your eye…such as these blue and white cans of “Pocari sweat” for sale at the local Asian supermarket.)
See the price tags? Black font on a bright yellow background!
How many times have you walked into the supermarket while you’re hungry (big mistake by the way) and bought something to munch on from the baked goods, cookies, and/or the chips section? You know you didn’t need to buy it, but you ended up getting it because 1. you were hungry and 2. it was “on sale” with a big neon yellow sign next to it with the big words “SALE!”? This is only one real-world example of how colors DEFINITELY drive the effectiveness of marketing and advertising campaigns.
Fonts are another aspect to the effectiveness of marketing communications since clear, legible, high contrast, appropriately sized font styles are more likely to be well-received by your audience compared to tiny, highly stylized elegant calligraphy. Imagine seeing cursive, neon red, 10-point font on a sign for an item on sale. Would you even bother to read it? You’d probably become momentarily annoyed at the illegible signage, ignore the item, then move onto the next part of your shopping trip. (That’s what I would do.)
I’m sure many people don’t even realize HOW significant colors are in their lives until they take a basic psychology/sociology class, a visual design class (shameless course promotion here^^), a marketing class, or a fundamentals of art class to get slapped with the concept that “hey, the colors in my life MEAN something!”
There you have it, folks, colors are significant. If you don’t know what certain colors mean or what they signify, it’s your duty as a responsible consumer to take the time to do your own research on how colors influence your life and how they impact your buying habits.
*Side note: If the person who’s reading this is color-blind, or has partial color-blindness, I can only say one thing: Life without seeing the actual color wheel and having to learn colors by inferring what gray-scale level red or green might be tougher for an artist like me who has experienced the world in full color since I can remember opening my eyes.
On a different note, I’m friends with a color-blind graphic designer who makes beautiful multi-colored artwork with the help of friends and digital tools (i.e. the colors on the image editing screen are named, not just shown as a 1×1 box). Just by watching him draw or sketch, I can see that having color-blindness takes extra effort to be able to exist in a world where other people are color “aware”. To relate this back to online communication and our visual design choices, it’s important to think about our ongoing roles as communication professionals when choosing fonts and colors for our work, since different people perceive our messages in different ways. Not everyone can see the colors, the colors!