Color in Persuasive Graphics


Color is a major consideration in any graphics project, but it’s an especially loaded issue when it comes to persuasive graphics, such as those used as trial exhibits. Some people think that color response is purely subjective. It certainly seems that way when I point out a color that I like to my husband, a beautiful mid-value shade of warm gray perhaps, and his response is “what, you mean beige?” While many factors can influence a person’s reaction to color–including context, mood and good taste (if I do say so myself)—there are certain color connotations that are almost universal within a culture. Across cultures, they can differ. And even within a culture, some of these connotations are contradictory, which is part of what makes color selection so tricky.

Red, for instance is associated with both danger and love. Blue can represent calmness and security as well as depression. Grey can connote prestige or lack of importance. It all depends on how the color is used and in what context.

So while the color scheme of any particular graphic must be chosen for balance, appeal and emphasis, emotional content also has to be considered.

Ady Leverette was a designer and a principal at Fat Pencil Studio between 2011 and 2018.