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Applying Color Psychology to Sign Design

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There are a number of factors involved in fabricating an attractive and effective sign, including…

But one element that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves is color. This is a huge oversight, as color choice has the potential to make or break a display.

Select the right one and your client’s signage will be viewed by every person who walks into the building.

Select the wrong one and your client’s signage could be passed by without so much as a glance.

Applying color psychology to sign design—even when producing ADA displays—is a useful tactic and one that all sign professionals should keep in mind when developing a client’s signage.

Read on to learn more about the role of color psychology in signage, what color associations to keep in mind, and why color contrast is crucial in ADA signage.

The Role of Color Psychology in Signage

Color psychology plays a huge role in signage; the right shades can help your client better convey their message to those they’re trying to reach.

Most of the time, color is the first thing people notice when they look at a display. If bright, eye-catching hues are used on a sign, the likelihood of that sign stopping people in their tracks is greatly increased.

However, understanding how colors affect human perception is also key. If the wrong color combination is used, it may cause a negative reaction in those who see it…

That’s why it’s so crucial to choose the right shades when designing signage.

When you’re tasked with filling a client’s sign order (be it for ADA signage or not), there are several questions you should ask during the initial consultation, including what color scheme and artwork they currently use in their materials. Chances are they’ll want the signs you provide to complement their existing theme.

If they don’t have a design they use across the board, that’s when you can prove your worth by offering recommendations.

By doing your due diligence and using color psychology to come up with ideas, you can ensure that the best possible color scheme is chosen for the client’s sign design.

Common Color Associations

The following list highlights some of the colors most often used in signage, the emotions they evoke in people, and the industries that typically use them.

It’s important to note that colors can also have negative connotations when used in certain applications, which is why it’s worth doing thorough research beforehand—especially if a client does business in other parts of the world where associations may differ.

The Importance of Color Contrast in ADA Signage

If you’ve been brought on to deliver ADA signage to a client, you can still apply color psychology to the design. Contrary to popular belief, there is a fair amount of flexibility when it comes to the look and feel of ADA signs.

However, where ADA signs differ from, say, trade show banners is that contrast isn’t just important—it’s legally required.

Per ADA guidelines, signs must have a high level of contrast between text and background. The recommended level of contrast is a minimum of 70%. As such, it’s important to choose contrasting colors when designing ADA signage.

Additionally, shiny, ultra-bright colors won’t work on ADA signage, as it will prove difficult for those with visual impairments to read. Fabricators should take this into consideration when selecting shades and make sure that the sign has a non-glare finish, per ADA mandate.


It’s clear that color psychology plays an important part in design, especially when it comes to signage.

When working on a new project, make it a priority to discuss color scheme with both the client and your design team. That way you can decide on appropriate hues that will fit your client’s brand and catch the eyes of those they’re trying to communicate with.

And remember…if you need to outsource an ADA sign order that requires custom work, you can always contact us for a quote. Or, if you’re looking to purchase wholesale signage, consider becoming an official Wholesale Partner.

Filed Under: Design and Customization

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