Color matters. It's often the most important consideration when designing your labels. Certain colors mean certain things to your consumers.
Consider color. Within your product segment, there may be a range of colors that are more representative of your product line as a whole. Depending on the product category, color combinations like black & white may be perceived as higher value offerings, while more colorful labels are associated with products of lower value. In other categories the exact opposite may be true.
Colors are often associated with moods, feelings and emotions, and can be separated into three main categories – warm, cool and neutral (with some crossover between them). Cool colors can have a calming effect, but when overused can create a sterile, impersonal, almost antiseptic feeling. Warm colors can convey a broad range of emotions from joy to anger. Neutral colors typically serve to enhance the emotional impact of the warm or cool colors. In this sense, black, white, ivory, and beige could be considered neutral colors. Some colors that are considered neutral can possess the traits of either warm or cool colors.
The following is an overview of some common perceptions of colors and their meanings, with examples.
Green means growth, fertility and nature, freshness, and a sense of the environment (predominant in nature, soothing in lighter shades).
Brown is an earthy color, the color of simplicity, practicality, reliability and dependability, wholesomeness and friendliness (leather, age, cigars and chocolate).
Red is the color of love and passion, and can convey heat, power, anger or even joy. Red can command attention and spur action. Red is believed to spur appetite (stop sign, sports car, lipstick, fast food).
Pink conveys a playful attitude, a delicate sweetness, sentiment, calmness or romance (bubble gum, candy, valentines, blossoms).
Yellow is a happy and cheerful color that can inspire joy or remembrance. It's also an attention getter (like orange, the other color of taxi cabs).
Gold equates to riches and extravagance, with a sense of the traditional, and is also associated with wisdom. Gold is notoriously difficult to reproduce as a design color (gold metal, jewelry, candlelight).
Orange is the color of urgency, excitement, vitality and energy, and is very appealing to children. Despite being very eye-catching it commonly ranks as people's least favorite color (warning signs, fire. Also common yet still eye-catching even in nature – fruit, vegetables, flowers).
White and Gray communicate a sense of calm, peace and tranquility (cotton, parchment, bedding, feathers).
Blue communicates respectability, authority, intelligence, power, trust and dependability (steel, rushing water), as well as a peaceful feeling in lighter shades (sky, calm waters).
Purple is the color often worn by kings, conveying elegance and majesty. It's relatively rare in nature. Purple is a complicated color, where bright purple is a favorite amongst children while deep purple is a favorite of religious organizations (fruit, vegetables, flowers).
Black is a conservative or formal color that can be seen as sophisticated or mysterious, luxurious and sophisticated (darkness, coal, oil, ink).
White, silver, ivory and gray are considered formal in many circumstances, and can communicate elegance, purity, calm, and sophistication (silver metal, lace, weddings, jewelry, classical architecture).
Beige is a relaxing color with emotional implications similar to brown depending on the shade (sandy beaches, woods, textiles).
Get to know your neighbors
Beyond color basics and their common meanings, it's also important to consider your neighboring product on the shelf. Your product needs to stand out from your competitors or risk blending into a sea of hundreds of others.
A good use of color is one that allows your product to stand apart as eye-catching without appearing garish or jarring to the browsing consumer. In an environment where the product shelf looks like a jumbled Rubix Cube, a conservative, understated or neutral color scheme may be the way to go. It's more than a question of personal preference – color choice can make or break your shelf presence, the perception of your product and the image of your brand.
If you'd like more info on how the correct use of color can improve your labels, the Advanced Labels NW full-service Art Department is always at your disposal during any stage of the creative process.