However, these concerns shouldn't have surprised me. Color is an important element of a presentation. Not only can color affect mood, it can communicate your brand and set the tone for your presentation and marketing materials. Color is one of the first details chosen when setting up your corporate logo, website, letterhead, and presentation templates. Finding colors that work well together—and fit with your message—can be a challenge even for seasoned designers.
Before I give you suggestions on how to choose colors, let's review the color wheel:
When speaking with a designer about colors, here are terms to help you communicate your color needs more accurately:
- Hue – where on the color wheel the color appears
- Saturation – the intensity of vibrancy of the color
- Value – the lightness or darkness of the color
- Analogous – colors that appear next to one another on the color wheel like blue, green, and yellow
- Complementary – colors that are across from one another on the color wheel like red and green
So, how do you determine which colors to use?
As with designing a graphic, you need to determine your primary objective when choosing a color. If you are trying to win new business with a presentation, then integrate your potential client's colors into the template. People like to see themselves, especially their businesses, in your presentation. Seeing something recognizable in your presentation promotes feelings of trust and partnership. Consider if the two slides below were being presented to the U.S. Army. Which slide communicates that you understand this client?
On the flip side, if your goal is to brand your company, then use your corporate colors. I know you may not like those colors or are probably sick of using the same colors, but think about this: When you picture a Coke ad what color do you primarily see? If you saw a color other than red—maybe purple—how would that make you feel?
What if you need to choose colors to complement your brand or maybe you are creating a new brand, how do you find the right colors?
Colors evoke different feelings in your audience and confer different connotations based on subject matter and culture. See how unappealing this pie slice becomes when the wrong color is applied.
Below is a list of colors and their meanings specific to many Western cultures. Keep these in mind when choosing colors to help properly convey your message.
- Red = empowering, bold (Red needs to be used sparingly. In studies, it has been shown to raise blood pressure and increase respiration rates, which will negatively impact mood.)
- Orange = warmth, happiness
- Yellow = happiness, energy
- Green = balance, refreshing
- Blue = relaxing, cool
- Violet = comforting
- White = pure, cleanliness
- Black = authoritative, shows discipline