Color Theory Basics in Design

Why do colors affect the way we feel? There’s a reason that people feel more depressed in the winter than they do in the summer: the absence of light. Color theory is constantly used by companies to elicit specific reactions from customers, whether it’s excitement, relaxation, hope or happiness. It takes most people 90 seconds to decide whether they’ll buy a product, and 90% of that choice is based on color.

What is color theory?

Put simply, color theory is the science and the art of mixing colors. Most of us know the terms primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. We’ve heard of hue, tint, shades, and complimentary colors. But how do we go from this basic knowledge to choosing a legendary color combination that wins over our audience? Generally, these are the emotions evoked by certain colors:

  • red: love, passion, intensity
  • yellow: joy, intellect, attention-grabbing
  • orange: energy, vitality, warmth
  • blue: trust, peace, stability
  • green: growth, novelty, wellness
  • purple: royalty, wealth, luxury
  • black: class, power, elegance
  • white: cleanliness, calm, simplicity

These are the common emotions, but note that not everyone will perceive colors in the same way. Their background, culture, age, and upbringing will all influence the meanings they assign to certain colors. That’s why this next point is imperative to choosing the best color palette for your brand.

Know your audience

It always comes back to the people who will buy your product, visit your website, or follow your social account. Always design with them in mind. Before you start throwing together colors, remember who you’re designing for and how you can best grab their attention. It might be helpful here to create buyer personas so you can better identify those who might be interested in your product or service. Also, always make sure your color palette aligns with your company’s purpose.

Creating color combinations

Once you have your company’s purpose down and your audience defined, it’s time to set the mood. Here are some common color combinations that stem from color theory.

analogous colors

Analogous colors are adjacent to each other on the color wheel. The result is a harmonious and natural look.

complimentary colors

Complimentary colors are pairs that are directly across from each other on the color wheel. They usually create a strong contrast and grab one’s attention.

triadic colors

To choose a triadic color palette, pick a color and draw an equilateral triangle. These combinations tend to feel well-balanced.

monochromatic

Monochromatic colors are very “in” right now. It involves choosing a color, then adding various shades of white and black.

What about those fancy color terms?

You should definitely know the difference between color, hue, tint, tone, and shade. They’re actually a lot simpler than we think.

  • Tint: also known as pastel, and is created by adding white.
  • Hue: the dominant, underlying base of the color you’re looking at.
  • Shade: created by adding black.
  • Tone: created by adding gray.

Tools to help you choose

You’re not alone in this; there’s inspiration everywhere. Pinterest or Behance are great places to start and see what kind of look you want to go for. You can also use online tools to help develop your color palette. Adobe color wheel is great for extracting colors from an image, or starting a palette from scratch. Color hunt is great for design inspiration, if you want something a little more readily available. Coolors generates color palettes at the touch of a space bar, and Color Supply is a nice traditional method for choosing as well.

Rebrand with energyhill

Is your brand looking for a breath of fresh air? Check out our services and set up a free consultation to get started.

energyhill brand refresh for the new decade

Over the years, energyhill has evolved a lot as a company. We removed the iconic red and white from our website a while ago. And replaced it with a charcoal gray and a vibrant gradient just last year. As our colors began to feel a little dark, we decided to do a brand refresh to kick off the new decade.

energyhill’s past color palettes

Previous color selections reflected different times in the company’s past. The red and white evoked the passion and clarity with which the company was started. The charcoal/gradient combination symbolized an important transition period for our brand. This year’s colors are a confident selection to better express our voice and messaging.

2020: energyhill brand refresh

For a brand new decade, we wanted to keep some traditional elements while completely revamping others. Drum roll please… here are our new colors!

“grapefruit” is a great way to maintain the vibrant energy (pun intended) evoked by the red and gradient, but in a more modern way. We chose to keep the charcoal and replace white with a subtle ivory color, similar to the powdery white sand that Florida beaches are known for. “eggplant” is a nice modern accent to “grapefruit”, and “cafe con leche” is a way to incorporate a pastel and tone down the intensity of the other colors (as well as express our love of coffee!).

the process

Our designers first determined what tone would match the brand. Here are the words they came up with:

  • Ambition
  • Energy (obviously)
  • Vitality
  • Passion
  • Creativity
  • Enthusiasm

From there, our designers gathered inspiration from a number of online resources and started making combinations that included a red base or the charcoal. Here are a few of our sample color palettes from which we narrowed it down:

Although we liked the tropical feel of sets 5 and 6, we felt the green would be a little too off-brand. Option 4 was a bit dark for what we were going for, and 3 just didn’t feel as cohesive as 1 and 2. It was a tough choice between 1 and 2, and they are almost exactly the same, but after much debate, we went with choice #1!

new year, new look

Brand refreshes bring with them new expectations of a company, refined messaging, and more specific goals. This year and this coming decade, energyhill’s services are transforming to make sure companies can stay afloat in this fast-moving technology world.

5 Creativity Myths Busted

What makes us creative? It may be the way we approach circumstances or provide solutions to issues. Or it may be the way we concoct a new product using different parts and making them work as one. Whatever it is, as humans, we grow up naturally curious; but as we get older, our creativity is slowly stifled through mundane jobs, health problems, or bills to pay. So, we spend years trying to recapture the effortless creativity of our youth, which now seems to only belong to innovative geniuses or renowned artists. But do not despair because there are a number of creativity myths that show us that not all is lost. Creativity belongs to everyone, not just the select few.

Creativity Myths

The good news is: not everything we believe about creativity is true. It’s not just a product of an inspirational upbringing, and it can be used in every aspect of our lives. The following creativity myths give us hope that it is possible to be creative and there’s no specific formula to attain it.

Myth #1: Ideas Will “Come to You”

We sometimes sit around hoping that the clouds will open up and the perfect idea will float down from the sky. Unfortunately, that belief leads to a lot of wasted time sitting around and doesn’t encourage productivity. We can’t expect wonderful ideas to pop up in our dreams, either. The famously described “eureka” moments usually happen after hours spent deliberating on a problem. In other words, it’s not magic, it’s your subconscious!

Myth #2: Creativity Is Genetic

How could creativity possibly be passed down through your DNA? No data has been found to support this theory of a special “creative gene.” Creative people have been found to emerge from totally non-creative walks of life, the same way that some children in artistic families might lack the qualities themselves. It’s something we can seek and acquire at any stage in our lives, proving we’re committed to the task.

Myth #3: Ideas are owned

Myth #3: Ideas Are Owned

Although some lawyers might argue this, ideas are not proprietary. Since the beginning of time, people have shamelessly copied off each other and developed their own original spin on ideas that already exist. Ideas are constantly recycled in different ways and given a fresh look. There’s no shame in this, and it doesn’t make you any less creative. Therefore, being able to look at a product or service and determine what it lacks so that a better version can be created is what business is all about.

Myth #4: Creativity Is Only About Art

Contrary to popular belief, creativity can come in all shapes and sizes. You don’t have to be a Picasso or Beethoven to preach about creativity; you can find it in anything from scientific breakthroughs to politics. So, if you’re brainstorming non-traditional solutions to common problems (design thinking), you’re being creative, whether you’re Beyoncé or Stephen Hawking.

Myth #5: Creativity can't be learned

Myth #5: Creativity Can’t Be Learned

As humans, we’re all born with some natural amount of curiosity and creativity. Children are always asking questions and exploring their surroundings. As we grow older and learn about the world, our creativity and curiosity fades, but that doesn’t mean we can’t relearn our old way of thinking. Thankfully, you can learn to be creative at any point in your life, as long as your way of thinking is challenged and pushed to create solutions.

Creativity = Create (Duh)

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where creative tendencies arise (nature vs. nurture), but we do know it’s not something to rely on your DNA for. We also know that creativity can be learned (it’s not too late!), ideas are constantly stolen and recycled, and they most definitely will not float to you in your dreams (unless you’re so obsessed with solving a problem that you’re dreaming about it; in that case, dream on). At the end of the day, creativity is about creating, no matter what your passion is.

energyhill Creative Marketing

At energyhill, we work to put creative solutions into practice for businesses. Our marketing, brand, and design services help companies stand out and thrive. We give your brand the voice is needs to find and connect with your audience. Contact us for a consultation.

7 Tips for Simplifying Design

Simplifying design has never been so difficult.

With the rising importance of usability and the endless distractions surrounding us, brands are looking for ways to ultra-simplify their products and interfaces. One might argue that major apps are all starting to look the same in order to achieve this ease of use. Companies are struggling to nail the simplicity that brands like Apple and Netflix have seamlessly pulled off. Consumers want simple interfaces that do complex things. How do we strike that perfect balance?

1. Think IKEA

What’s the most recognizable thing about IKEA manuals? They somehow provide clear instructions without using words. Studying an IKEA manual may give you some ideas on how to be straightforward and brief. In today’s world of complicated content that easily pushes consumers away, it’s important to think like IKEA.

2. Don’t Overwhelm

With too many options, we run around like chickens with their heads cut off. It’s important for an app or website to remove unnecessary distractions and focus on the product or service they’re trying to provide. Don’t try to do everything; instead, do one thing and make sure you’re the best at it.

3. Facilitate Decision-Making

Consumers don’t always know what they want, or they’re otherwise bombarded with endless choices. Hick’s Law famously outlines what happens when users face too many options: they run away. To address this, eliminate as many choices you can that aren’t required, or provide recommendations. You can also use progressive disclosure to hide irrelevant information until it’s needed.

4. Create Hierarchy

Use distinct typefaces, weights and colors to encourage consumers to read things in the order you want. Similar size fonts or colors don’t stand out and get lost within a layout. Aim to focus the attention on one spot, and then use hierarchy to create movement that is clear and intentional.

Avoid: Too Many Fonts

Too many fonts can drive our eyes wild. Select typefaces that compliment each other to enhance the visual experience of the reader.

Avoid: Too Many Colors

There is a way to effectively use many colors in design, but for the most part, you want to stay away from too many bright colors. It’s best to choose only one or two to catch the reader’s attention. The rest of the content should compliment, not detract.

5. Split Up Large Content

Even if you simplify the number of choices consumers have, there still might be too much going on. To fix this, try laying out the content in one column and break it up into smaller sections. This should help to facilitate decision-making (as noted above in Rule #3), and create a more appealing visual layout.

6. Declutter and Organize

As our dear friend Marie Kondo would say, discard everything that does not spark joy. Consumers don’t want to spend a lot of time figuring the layout or hierarchy of your content. The more there is on the screen, the less a consumer sees. Clean up your interface to include beautiful bold titles and plenty of tasteful white space. Organized content not only simplifies your design, but it’s more memorable.

7. Use Already Familiar Design Techniques

Many apps and websites like Airbnb, Twitter and Instagram have adopted the clean, colorless, bold typeface look. Truthfully, a lot of companies are copying this style from the big brands because they know it works. Huge images, text, and videos which easily translate to mobile are what we now associate with quality brands. These are the little things that make them more credible in our eyes. By using familiar design patterns, we can keep users in their comfort zone, make it easy and pleasurable for them to navigate an app or website, and increase conversion.

Read: The Law of Simplicity

The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda is a wonderful tool for understanding usability and simple design. Maeda outlines 10 laws that help you organize your content and understand the relationship between simplicity and complexity.

energyhill’s design expertise

Our team can help your brand stand out by simplifying your design. If your interface needs a fresh look, or you’re looking to build a user-friendly app or website from scratch, we can build, style, and maintain it to increase your ROI and conversion rates. Contact us for more information.

#36daysoftype Project, the ‘World’s Fair’ of Typography

Every field and industry has its own event where works and/or products are showcased. Well, that is what 36 Days of Type is in the world of type. It is an international typography project that encourages illustrators, animators, and artists to give their interpretation of the letters of our alphabet. View it as an open invitation to endless creativity, for 36 days. A friendly creative challenge at its core, this international typography project sheds a light on the art of type and lettering design.

The Hype of #36daysoftype

energyhill’s first time participating in this typography project was in 2017. Read the article about this first time experience. But basically, the creative team loved it so much that they participated in 2018 and again this year.

“This project allows us to get really creative and provides a nice break from the norm of daily work. It’s a free time to do whatever we want with the design, not abide by any strict rules.”

Gloria Lowe, energyhill Creative Lead

In a nutshell, 36 Days of Type started as a personal side project for designers based in Barcelona, Nina Sans and Rafa Goicoechea. And just like any modern competition, the 36 Days of Type got popular very quickly. Consequently, it resulted in even more exposure, which then resulted in partnership with Adobe.

The 36 Days of Type project keeps expanding and gaining more recognition, which also makes room for more structure. Now, designer participants can submit their work beforehand and with the help of prominent designers, submissions are judged and featured on social media.

[Hashtag] The Biggest Typography Project on Social Media

Hashtags are now an important part of social media. Actually, there is a “science” to it. So, when implemented well, the user can see results and 36 Days of Type is no exception. A space to push the boundaries of creativity and personal expression, contestants create and share their letters using the typography project’s hashtags: #36daysoftype, #36days_(letter or number of the day).

Also, one of the benefits of participating in this project is that it puts unknown designers on the map. Kind of like how some artists get discovered thanks to their YouTube videos. Eventually, these hashtags result in exposure.

energyhill’s Participation

This year for 36 Days of Type 06, energyhill chose the theme of “Around the World in 36 Days.” So, our team of designers assigned a country or city to each letter. That approach was the inspiration behind every design along with facts about each country!

“We were really excited to take on this project with the ‘around the world’ theme. We have such a diverse team and we loved being able to showcase everyone’s home countries and favorite places. It was challenging, educational, and rewarding.”

Nataly Capote-Torres, energyhill Graphic Designer
https://www.instagram.com/p/BvyzpWlD0Aj/

The energyhill team is diverse and multilingual, so “Around the World in 36 Days” was the perfect theme.

#36daysoftype project /
Around the World in 36 Days

The Heart of energyhill

At energyhill, we are passionate about marketing and creating concepts that reflect the heart of brands. We are team of diverse members working together towards one goal, to help businesses grow through creative marketing. Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Contact us today and learn about our approach.

Color Gradients Are The New Black

There are few elements of the natural world more evocative than color. Perhaps second only to smell, seeing or experiencing certain colors causes a visceral reaction. Much research has been done in the realm of colors and what they mean. Red often equates to anger or passion; blue offers a sense of calm. Whatever the colors might mean, advertising and marketing professionals have long stressed the importance of color when designing logos and branding.

Color Gradients Are The New Black

However, singular colors appear to be so 2016. Gradients are now a popular design element. Is it possible that color gradients are the new black? Let’s examine why using a color gradient for your next design project might be the best choice.

A Rainbow of Options

Gradients provide so much more depth and interest than a simple, flat color. In general, people can identify about 20 standard colors. But with a color gradient, you have added a unique look and color element to your advertising, packaging, logo or more. Instagram’s logo might be the most readily identifiable use of gradients in logo design.

A More Realistic Approach

The world isn’t simply flat – it features dynamic dimensions and contours that gradients help to reflect. Natural objects have shades of color – flowers, fruits and more – making it easy for our eyes to see and interpret color gradients.

A Standout Choice

As of right now, few brands use gradients as their primary color palette. Hence, using a gradient at this point can truly help set your organization apart. Branding with a gradient is just another way for your company to rise above others in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

A Bold Hue

Choosing color gradients in bold tones can give your design a more modern feel. Using a gradient is a clear indicator that you and your organization have moved into the 21st Century, with a progressive perspective.

If you want to find out more about color gradients and how you can use them in your design, contact Energyhill today. Our team of branding experts looks forward to demonstrating this rising trend and how your organization can benefit from unique and progressive design elements.

We Took the Challenge – 36 Days of Type

At Energyhill, we are always looking for ways to expand our imaginations, learn something new, and innovate. Not only does this help us become better designers, marketers, and advertisers, it also helps us become better client partners. Recently, the design team at Energyhill participated in the international 36 Days of Type. Two graphic designers (Nina Sans and Rafa Goicoechea) from Barcelona first conceived the event. Nina’s last name is Sans… born for this! Their goal was to challenge themselves to create one new thing every day while still balancing their normal responsibilities. And of course, they had to post these new creations to social media. Through the help of their friends, 36 Days of Type became a global event. Now, multiple participants around the world take the type challenge every year. In 2017 Energyhill joined the fray.

#36daysoftype

What is the Type Challenge?

The type challenge is essentially a 36-day commitment to think outside the box. The goal is for designers to create a new letter or number every day. It can be as abstract or literal as the designer wants – the point is simply to imagine these familiar characters in novel ways.

Why did We Participate?

The creative team wanted to participate because it was an interesting side challenge. However, our designers discovered that a friendly environment of competition was quite productive and fun. Our team made friendly bets over morning coffee. Likewise, our creative team was very inspired by interacting with designers across the world.

What did We Learn?

Our designers learned quite a bit by participating in the type challenge. We learned about ourselves. Our internal processes are fairly structured. We also have a clean workflow with project management playing a role. This challenge was open ended. Working without guidelines or parameters was challenging, but also invigorating. The passion was real when we started combining organic and graphic elements. Even Ryan, our president, joined in and helped with the stop motion piece.

All of our design team’s entries can be found on our Instagram page. Also, we invite you to take a look and see what you think of our type challenge entries. We’d love to hear from you! Contact us today for information on how our creative team can go to work for you.

3 Tips for Sourcing Stock Photography

Looking for the perfect picture to represent your brand? If you don’t have the budget to hire your own photographers, models, etc., stock photography is the way to go. But what sort of stock image should you choose? Gloria shares her top 3 tips for sourcing images and finding the perfect photo for your ad.

3 Tips for Optimal Image Sourcing

1. Know the difference between Rights Managed and Royalty Free – and choose wisely.

2. Remain conscious of the crop.

3. Look for luscious lighting.

Rights Managed vs. Royalty Free

To keep it simple, most people think of Rights Managed images as pay-per-use, whereas Royalty Free are one-time-fee images. This oversimplification can make Royalty Free images seem like the go-to in all cases. What a deal! But depending on your use of the image, the presence of your competition in the marketplace, and your budget – Royalty Free may not always be your best choice. For example, if your market is saturated with competitors and you want to stand out, you might not want to take the chance that your competition could use the exact same image as you – don’t laugh. It happened to Dell. And if it happened to Dell, it could happen to you.

Rights Managed images may cost a lot more, but they come with the guarantee that you, and only you, will have the rights to use this particular image. So if competition is fierce and you have a fierce budget to match, this may be the way to go.

Here’s a great article where you can learn more on this topic.

Conscious of the Crop

When you’re looking at potential images, keep your cropping in mind. For example, if your ad is going to be a long, horizontal rectangle, then you probably want to steer clear of portrait images. Similarly, if you want to feature a person with some copy off to the side, you’ll want to source an image with a clean background. Sure, you could pull the image out and do some photoshop magic – but the less work you have to do on the back end to make your image perfect, the more real and impactful it will be for your audience.

Luscious Lighting

This goes back to that photoshop comment we made above. Today’s audience is photoshop savvy – there are entire websites devoted to pointing out photoshop fails in advertising, and you don’t want to make that list. Look for lighting that supports the overall feeling of your message. Be particular on this point, bad lighting is difficult to fix. Keep the image light and bright if that’s the mood, or dark and brooding – whatever your goal, your lighting can make or break it.

Use these tips to find the best possible image for your brand. Check out the video or design page to learn more.