Helpful Tools for Great Sign Design: Color
Color is an extremely important aspect of your sign design. Not only does color get the attention of the viewer, but it also elevates your message and connects your sign with the brand it represents. Choose your color scheme carefully, however, as a boring scheme will get overlooked and a wild-and-crazy color scheme will turn viewers away. It’s all about finding a balance that produces an attractive design that motivates your reader to call your business or come into your store.

If you don’t have brand colors or you’re not sure how to choose a color scheme, know that you’re not alone. Rather than just guessing colors, however, do some research into color theory to determine which colors will help you convey the message you want from your ads. Research, you ask? Well, you won’t have to look that far, because here are some great resources for determining what colors to use for your custom signs.

Like with fonts, you’ll want to do a little reading before going crazy with color. It will help, I promise! Here’s a great article from the always helpful Smashing Magazine. Author Cameron Chapman offers fantastic insight into color theory, showing real examples of how color is used in ads. It’s a must-read for those looking to establish a brand color.

I know some of you don’t have the time to read an article that long, so here’s a simplified version from

If you’re looking to be inspired (who isn’t?), check out the Design Seeds blog. Jessica uses visually-stunning pictures to create unique color palettes called “seeds”. You can search by style and by color, and if you find one you like, there’s an iPhone app to use for color-matching. For those ultra-creative sorts, here are a couple of great theme creators.

Adobe’s Kuler is simply-fantastic. Choose from presets, or create your own. At the bottom, notice that your color codes are listed (HSV, RGB, CMYK, LAB, and HEX)—so whether you’re using this online or to print on a custom banner or window decal, you’ll have the specific color codes you need to match your theme.

ColorBlender is another great choice. With both an AutoMatch and Direct Edit mode, you can create until your heart’s content. I also love the Variations, so if you are almost there, one click produces a slight adjustment that takes you the rest of the way. You can even download the colors you need in Photoshop or Illustrator—your sign printing company will need these codes to make sure your sign matches the theme you created!

Ok, it’s time to turn you loose. Let’s see some great color—just remember, be unique, choose colors that send the right message, and don’t go color-crazy!
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