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What's in a Color

Strawberry red. Ocean blue. Spring green. Everyone has favorite colors, and they’re an important part of your company’s logo, printed materials, and website. Interestingly, researchers have determined that people’s reaction to color is so personal that there aren’t reliable universal guidelines for how to use them in marketing. What matters most isn’t the use of a specific color, but the way your colors promote a brand image (read more). So what do you need to know about color? 


What Is Color? 

Let’s start with what color is. Most dictionaries define it in technical terms: color is how an object appears to the human eye after a spectrum of wavelengths of light are reflected on the object’s surface. How the color is perceived depends on factors like its hue, value, saturation, shade, and tint. But what are those? 



Hue refers to the basic color family we associate with a color. Technically, Wikipedia defines it as “the degree to which a stimulus can be described as similar to or different from stimuli that are described as red, green, blue, and yellow.” Less technically, all this means is that hue refers to the basic color we associate with a particular shade. For example, we would attribute the hue “blue” to its various shades of navy, sky, or sapphire. 



Value is a measurement of the brightness of a color. The brighter the color, the higher its value. If two colors that have similar value are placed next to each other, neither one stands out. An example of this is red and black. If you photocopy a red-and-black image, you’ll find that you cannot distinguish between the red and black since the colors are so similar in value. Two colors with very different values are yellow and black, with yellow being much brighter (having a much higher value) than black. This contrast in value makes them easy to distinguish, which is why many road signs use a yellow-black combination. 



The purity and intensity of a color is called its saturation. High saturation colors appear rich and full, while low saturation colors look dull. Technically, it can be understood as a measurement of how far the color is from true gray. Many glossy print ads use high saturation. 


Tint and Shade 

Tint and shade describe how a color varies from its original hue. If black is added to the original color, this is called a shade, and the color appears darker. When white is added, the lighter color is referred to as a tint. According to one study, males tend to prefer shades, and women are more drawn to tints. 


How does your company use colors, and what message do they send? Contact Waterfront Graphic Design today to have us create the perfect color scheme for your business. Call 608.592.6501 or reach us by email at


 608.669.4677        W10994 Eagle Drive, Lodi, WI 53555

Located 30 minutes north of Madison, WI, on beautiful Lake Wisconsin.

We were honored to be awarded the Small Business of the Year award from the Lodi & Lake Wisconsin Chamber.