Perfecting your campaign colors (Part 1)

The colors we associate with people and institutions in our everyday lives are not accidental. They are intentional – intentional because a flash of color has the ability to quickly and efficiently communicate messages and invoke physiological reactions in people faster than words.

Red – the burning fire, the dramatic fight, the firetruck conveying passion, power and strength.

White – the clinical doctor, the sterile surgery, the lab jacket conveying cleanliness, simplicity and purity.

What this means is that the colors you use for your campaigns – whether they be for advancing your political standing or spreading the word about your new fair trade, single-origin coffee beans – matter. The colors you use more than matter, actually – they define your campaign. They will communicate ideas and emotions to your audience before they even have an opportunity to read your platform.

So – how do you use color to bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses* communicate effectively? Let me explain.


Lesson #1: every color has an equal and opposite emotional reaction. (Keep in mind that some emotions overlap between different colors.)

Black invokes mystery, formality, sophistication, power and elegance.

White invokes purity, innocence, fresh starts and simplicity.

Silver invokes illumination, reflection, responsibility and intelligence.

Yellow invokes happiness, friendliness and warnings.

Orange invokes playfulness, energy, adventure and friendship.

Red invokes energy, action, passion and aggression.

Blue invokes communication, peacefulness, trust, wisdom and honesty.

Green invokes growth, harmony, balance and rejuvenation.

Brown invokes stability, structure and security.

Purple invokes spirituality, royalty, inspiration and empathy.

Pink invokes love, compassion, calmness and hope.

Gold invokes luxury, success and self-worth.


One word: clarity.

Consider your message and your brand and your campaign. What is the one, clear message that you want to send out to your audience? Before you write your message in stone, though, let’s look to the Greek philosopher, Aristotle. He may be dead, but his theories are effective. His three artistic proofs – ethos, pathos and logos – will give your message a reliable structure.

Ethos appealing to the ethics of your audience.

Pathos appealing to the emotions of your audience.

Logos appealing to the logic of your audience.

When you are defining your message, the most compelling combination of words will consider the three variables – ethics, emotion and logic – and address all of them. So – ask yourself:

1) What component makes your campaign ethically credible?

2) What is your best emotional connection to your audience?

3) Why do your ideas matter?

The answer to these questions are your campaign foundation – you should already know them.

Now, using all of this pretentious Greek philosophy – fuse your foundation and your message into a short phrase no longer than a sentence. One sentence, one statement – this is the summary of your summary. The first and only line of your miniature elevator pitch.

Great. Now that you have a short sentence that is five-ish words, use those five words to match yourself up to your hero color – which is step #3 of this riveting, fascinating, life-changing blog.


Make your campaign stand out from the crowd by mixing and matching colors from step one using shades, tones and tints.

Hue is a pure color from your color wheel.

Shade is mixing black in with your pure color.

Tone is mixing grey in with your pure color.

Tint is mixing white in with your pure color.

Your designs will stand out among the rest if they aren’t pure primary colors – but rather unique colors that you have chosen that may be blends of two colors that hold the emotion you want your brand to convey. For example, you could use a red-orange blend that is tinted a little lighter than your standard red-orange because you want the fire and passion of red but the friendliness of orange – with the white mixed in to tone down the alarm.

Two great resources for this are: and


Now that you know your message and you know what kind of emotion you want to pull out of your audience – you can choose your hero color. It’s really that simple. Refer to step #1 if you’re confused about how the emotions in step #2 combine with colors to help you make a decision, and refer to step #3 to bring a unique flair to your campaign.


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