Revisiting color theory: make your display stand out

Category: Ideas, Strategy

Up to 90 percent of snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone, according to the study Impact of Color Marketing. The colors you choose for your exhibit affect everything from an attendee’s emotional response to your brand to space perception. When planning your next exhibit, resist the urge to simply default to your corporate colors; choosing a powerful complementary color that’s different from your corporate colors can help your display really stand out from the crowd.

If “vibrant orchid” and “tangerine tango” sound less like colors and more like fruity cocktails you might sip while lying poolside on your next vacation, fear not. Our crash course in color theory basics will help you understand the science behind color harmony and how to make 2015’s hottest color trends work for your exhibit.

Warm, Cool, Neutral and Complementary Colors: What Does it All Mean?

Colors are classified as “warm”, “cool” or “neutral.” Red and yellow are examples of warm colors; we associate these colors with sunlight and fire. Blue and green are examples of cool colors; cool colors are associated with the sky or the ocean. A neutral color is one with equal proportions of warm and cool. Neutrals colors do not pop out or attract attention. Brown, beige, taupe and olive are all classic examples of neutral colors. Complementary colors sit directly across from one another on the color wheel. Because of their high contrast, they complement one another more than any other color combination. Red and green are a classic complementary color pairing.

Context Counts.

Colors can evoke a range of emotions as we unconsciously associate certain colors with power, femininity, masculinity, glamour, drama, purity and even death. For color associations, it’s all about context. Consider this: brown can evoke feelings of ruggedness (e.g., an outdoor leather goods company) or feelings of warmth, family and togetherness (e.g., Thanksgiving) or even feelings of luxury and indulgence (e.g., chocolate). Green may be rejuvenating and natural in the context of an environmental product (e.g., Clorox GreenWorks) but connote financial strength in the context of money (e.g., TDBank).

2017 Color Trends for Your Display

Since 2000, the Pantone Color Institute has been selecting a “Color of the Year”. Past colors include combo colors “Rose Quartz and Serenity” (2016) and “Marsala” (2015). “Kale” — 2017’s color of the year — is subdued, muted, earthy. According to Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, the 2017 colors are: “Reminiscent of the hues that surround us in nature… designers applied color in playful, yet thoughtful and precise combinations to fully capture the promises, hope and transformation that we yearn for each Spring.” Other top colors for spring are the warmth of sunny days evoked by PANTONE 13-0755 Primrose Yellow to the invigorating feeling of breathing fresh mountain air with PANTONE 18-0107 Kale and the desire to escape to pristine waters with PANTONE 14-4620 Island Paradise.

Bottom line:

You don’t have to be a graphic designer (though they can certainly help you with color selections!) to apply the basics of color theory to your exhibit. When selecting an accent color for your display, start by thinking about your current corporate logo colors. If your logo is blue, for example, a yellow or orange accent color will bring optimism, innovation, energy and vibrancy to your display. Complementary colors will really make your corporate logo pop! You may also want to select colors based on the product that you’re selling. For example, Masala adds richness and warmth to any environment, and could be a natural choice for upscale luxury products in fashion, beauty, home furnishings, interiors and even industrial design. Don’t be afraid to experiment and have a little fun!



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