Tips for a Successful Promotional Sign - Design Color
by Sheila Maas
CROSS & OBERLIE - Henry Ford said you can have any color Model T as long as it is black. A while back a survey by the University of Florida claimed that a yellow background with black lettering was the best color combination for a sign for attracting attention. In the packaging industry "red" is the favored attention getting color down the supermarket aisle. So there you have it! The experts agree to disagree.
So what color is best for your promotional sign? Answer: Take your pick as to what suits "you" or your event or business best. Here are some other helpful suggestions as to what not to do.
Consider Color Value
Never use a low value color (light color) with a low value color. For example, light yellow lettering on a white background will not show up. All pastels (e.g. pale blue, yellow, pink, light green) will not contrast against white backgrounds. Interestingly fluorescents, though appearing very bright, will not contrast on white. Choose a dark (high value) color (e.g. black, navy blue, burgundy, red, forest green)
Similarly never use a high value color with a high value color. For example black lettering on a navy blue background will not show.
Lettering and background must always be of contrasting value in order to be readable.
First remember white is the principal base stock color - and it is free. Blue (or for that matter red, green, orange, etc.) lettering on a white background is a one color print. So also is white lettering on a blue background a one color print. The blue is printed as what is referred to in "reverse".
For Northerners, avoid white signs in winter. To not have your sign "lost" against the white snow, use reverse printing (i.e. bright colored printed background with white letters). Similarly green backgrounds can get lost in more lush territories and/or seasons, as yellow signs can against arid backgrounds. For a sign to be recognized it has to be a color that is "out of place" in its environment. Avoid khakis, gray and brown background colors for that reason. For standard ink colors consult a screen printer's ink colors gallery.
Two Colors vs. One Color
There has never been a one color design that can not be improved by adding a second color. Remember white, as a base stock color, is free. Two color printing to produce a yellow/black sign or a red/white/blue sign or a fluorescent green/navy will always stand out with greater impact.
For the printer, two colors require two films, two screens, two setups, two runs and two cleanups. This costs money. So for a two color sign always expect to pay more per sign - but it may be worth it.
Hopefully these suggestions will aid in your color decisions for promotional signs. For a wide range of ideas, it is helpful to consult galleries on a screen printer's web site. If you have questions, do not hesitate to consult directly with your screen printer - they have the expertise to help.