How Colors Interact: Tips for Choosing a Color Scheme for Your Banner Stand

by Graham Green - Date: 2007-05-01 - Word Count: 819 Share This!

Even if we're not colorblind, most of us don't have a professional's "eye" for color. It's more than seeing the colors-it's knowing what colors and shapes to combine for the highest-impact graphics possible. If you're planning on designing your trade show banner yourself, there's little room for mistakes-the banner will be big, bold, and right at eye level. A well-coordinated banner will stand out and draw people in, while a poor design won't do your booth any favors. Here are a few tips when working with color at trade shows.

Remember your audience. If you're doing an international trade show, your color situation could get complicated. That's because different cultures associate different meanings for certain colors. For example, purple is the color of royalty, right? Not in the Netherlands-for them, it's orange. And black is a bit funereal-but not in China. There, white is the color associated with funerals. Try to choose colors that don't have a strong cultural symbolism for your audience, just to make sure you're not communicating the wrong message.

Keep it legible. Did you know that purple is the hardest color for the eye to process? Knowing that, it's probably not a good idea to print your banner's ad copy in purple. Yellow, however, is the easiest on the eyes-we tend to "notice" yellows before we notice other colors. This means that yellow is a bad background color, because your eye will process it before noticing the copy you want to showcase-unless you tune it down to a very pale shade.

Contrast is key. The right contrast between dark and light colors not only makes your banner copy legible-it makes your image and message stand out. Make sure the colors you use aren't in the same shade-dark greens and blues, for example. Be sure to contrast any darker color with a lighter color to make it stand out. This is especially important with text-the contrast between text and background colors should be easy on the eyes. If passers-by have to squint to read your banner, chances are they won't put in the effort.

Keep color psychology in mind. Different colors have different subliminal associations. Color psychology is often used by national brands in designing logos and company colors. For example, blue is often used to indicate reliability and strength. Black indicates power, and is often used for very formal, "corporate" companies as well as "hard" companies such as manufacturers, miners, and oil companies. Red indicates passion, creativity, and material pleasures; green is adventurous and outdoorsy; orange and yellow are youthful and exuberant; and brown indicates stability and safety.

Don't do what everyone else is doing. Because so many companies pay attention to the connotations of the colors they use, businesses in the same industry often wind up using the same colors. Don't fall into this trap-especially at the trade show. Instead, choose a color scheme that's likely to stand out. For example, display your logo in colors on the opposite end of the color wheel from those of your usual logo. Or choose colors that project an interesting alter-image on your company. For example, if you're in an entertainment-based industry, the predominant colors might be reds and oranges. Choose black instead to show the power and strength of your company. You'll definitely stand out.

Know where your audience will be. Is your banner stand intended to be seen from a long distance away? Or at eye level and fairly close? If you're using a hanging banner stand or sign that you want people to notice from across the convention hall, you'll need a lot of contrast. Go for big, splashy design and avoid small details. You can go a little subtler with banner stands placed at eye level, and include finer detail as well.

Don't be afraid of white space. White space gives your banner a clean, roomy, organized feel. Don't fall into the mistake of thinking that you have to fill every inch of your banner with some color or design-you don't. White space is very effective in providing contrast to rich colors, and makes the perfect background color for text.

Don't leave out your margins. Some banner designers stretch their text so that it fills the banner from side to side. Don't do this-margins make your text more readable and make your banner look less cluttered. White space keeps the viewer's eye focused on the text; filling up every inch of your banner only obscures the marketing message.

Your banner stand can be a great asset to your trade show display. A striking color scheme placed out in front of your display can help draw your customers to you-it works more effectively than you'd think. Avoid bad design, and your banner stand will keep the customers coming.

About the Author

G Greene is managing director of Just Displays in Essex, supplier of a wide range of banner and pop up stands for exhibitions. For a range of banner stands visit

Related Tags: marketing, display, color, trade, text, customers, graphics, banner, shows, stand

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