It stands to reason that colorful brochures should get more attention over the monochrome variety. That seems almost so obvious as to be something of a cliché.
And yet it's a much more complicated topic than that. Research studies have shown that color perception is an extraordinarily complex topic. There are some groups of people in various parts of the world who have been vision-tested under scientific conditions and who are clearly shown to perceive all shades of green and all shades of blue as essentially the same color!
Scholars who have studied Homer's Iliad in detail have shown that there are very few colors mentioned in the text: almost everything is red, black or green, and green encompasses a number of colors that we would today consider to be separate. (This fact was actually discovered first by William Gladstone, a British prime minister, who was an amateur classics scholar.)
The reality is that the perception of color is subjective to a great degree. What that means to you as the designer of a brochure promoting a product or service is that you can use this incredible subjectivity in order to make the impact of your brochure much greater than would be the case if you gave little thought to the matter.
As an example, suppose that you saw a brochure that was printed on glossy paper and was bright red. This is a combination that screams for attention. But what is the subliminal message here? If somebody has to scream for my attention is it possible that what they have to offer is something which is hard to sell? Maybe.
On the other hand, suppose I see a brochure which is a textured paper colored a light grey. Maybe there's an icon, a small drawing, or a word which is bright red, but which hardly dominates the front panel. In that case, the eye might be drawn toward the image and there may be considerable curiosity as to what that image represents. Might I pick up the brochure and look at it? I might, because my eyes have been drawn in by the less blaring, much more subtle design on the front of that particular brochure.
There are some color combinations that might be perceived as clichés. For example, bright colors in rainbows or balloons might send a signal to someone that "this is designed to brighten my day or make me happy." Some people might view this as emotional manipulation on some level, and may put up defenses against it.
And so the lesson here is that colors used in conjunction with thoughtful design can be far more powerful than just bright or loud colors. A single line of a bright color set against a soft pastel - at an odd angle - suggests thought and nuance, and some people are going to be drawn to that just because they want to see what the thought leads to. This is always the goal, then: enough color to draw attention, but not enough to telegraph the wrong message.
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Article Added on Thursday, August 9, 2012
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