Many colours have messages that are internationally recognized and symbolize various actions, warnings, or products the world over. The most obvious example is the code for traffic signals: red for stop, green for go. Although it is very easy to fall into the trap of generalizations, colours do have certain properties that remain the same through the pendulum swings of fashion which affect other aspects of colour, such as acceptability and popularity. it is these properties that convey the message of each colour.
By ‘properties’ I mean aspects such as volume, excitement value, temperature, and symbolic value. Let’s start with volume. There are quiet colours, such as light blue, light pink, and soft grey, and there are loud colours, such as bright reds and
bright greens. Their ‘volutme’ comes from their dominance (how much they seem to jump out at you), or from their recessive ness (how much they sink into the background). Dominanant, or loud, colours are aggressive, whereas recessive, or paler, colours are passive.
You might use quiet colours for a product such as a fabric softener, with its connotations of soft blankets and woolens, but it is unlikely that you would use loud colours for such a product. Youâ€™d might use loud colours for a food product, such as a salt, which will appear on the supermarket shelves among containers full of the same product, and choose bright colours such as red and bright blue
on white, simply so that your product will standout from all the rest.
Of course there are other considerations to be taken into account when choosing a colour, and they all combine to create the final product, but each must be assessed on its own before the whole is put together. So, onto the next – excitement value. ‘Excitement’ can refer to warning, danger, risk, and
fear. The colours used most commonly to signify excitement are red and orange, used extensively ill the areas of poisons and lethal chemicals, explosives and road hazards; but, particularly in the case of red, they also represent blood, horror and revolution. Conversely, for products with no – excitement value, a designer may want to put across the opposite image and use safe colours.
These are usually blues, browns, dark greens or greys.