Psychology of Color in Design

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Psychology of Color in Design

Lemon Yellow. Mango Tango. Robin’s Egg Blue. 

Color has some powerful properties, not only in its ability to visually add to a design, but also in its ability to evoke emotion. 

Whether it’s designing a study brand, poster, or any other collateral, color choices can drastically affect the overall tone of a design. The use of color can be broken down into a science, known as Color Theory. 

A great deal of information about specific color relationships can be seen with a color wheel. A basic color wheel contains 12 different hues, which include primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. Primary colors are yellow, red, and blue, which are mixed together to create the secondary, and later, tertiary colors. 


The science behind the psychology of color is vast; some may prefer certain colors due to personal preference, yet specific colors tend to evoke certain psychological responses. For example, the color yellow creates a feeling of joy or optimism, and is known as the happiest color in the color spectrum (Ciotti, “The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding”). 

The variations of colors can be separated into four categories: hue, tint, tone, and shade. Hue refers to the brightness of the color, and means that these colors have not been altered with black, gray, or white. Tints refer to colors that have been mixed with white. Tone refers to colors mixed with gray and shades of color mixed with black.  These slight variations can make or break a design, and emulate completely different feelings. 

For example, if you love the color red and would like to use it in your branding logo design for a research study, it would be wise to choose a shade of red instead of bright hue. Pure red can evoke feelings of violence and aggression, yet a darker red brings out feelings of strength and courage (Voices Magazine, “ Psychological Properties Of Colors”). 


Overall, color is often the first thing people notice in a design, and it is also what they will remember most about your brand.  When choosing color palettes for specific designs, certain websites can provide a great deal of help. Adobe’s site, Kuler, contains an interactive color wheel that can help you choose specific color harmonies for all your designing needs. Similarly, showcases color trends and palettes created by their community of designers and artists. 

Color is important to clinical trials as well. When attempting to reach patients do you know which colors are the most effective in establishing trust and grabbing attention? If you’re curious about how color and design play into your study or research site's website-watch our webinar on website branding by clicking the button below! 

Register For Our Webinar On Website Branding


Gregory Ciotti. “The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding”. Help Scout. Web. 1 Mar. 2018.

Voices Magazine .“ Psychological Properties Of Colors”. Voices. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

Georgia Barrett

Post by Georgia Barrett -

As a member of ClinEdge Engage, Georgia helps design national patient recruitment campaigns, study websites, and innovative print collateral. “I love being able to show clients what thoughtful design can achieve for their research site or trial.”

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