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Retail Signage and the Psychology of Colors

Retail signage is a visual medium with several jobs to do. One obvious job is to provide information to customers on such things as sale items, product details or special promotions. The other job, a more subtle one, is to drive sales.

retail signs - sale red

What is the psychology of colors?

Color has been proven to have a significant influence on people’s thoughts and emotions. Studies have found that different colors invoke specific responses in people. Using that knowledge can help guide business owners when they choose colors for their retail signage. Below is a table the shows the general meanings associated with different colors and how the colors can best be used in signs.

color associated emotion or imagery best uses in retail signage
black power, ele­gance, class, for­mal­ity, wealth
  • Black works well as a back­ground to bright text or images or as text on a bright background.
  • When combined with other bright colors, black makes a strong statement, and it fits with almost any other color.
white light, peace,  purity, good­ness, freshness,  inno­cence
  • White works well as a background for bright text or images.
  • Conversely, white is also suitable as text on a dark background.
red love, passion, power, strength, energy
  • Because red is bold and easily noticed, it’s good for drawing attention to the most important details.
  • Red often appears in “sale” signs.
orange fun, warmth, energy
  • Orange stimulates appetite, so it’s good for signs relating to food.
  • Orange is accepted by young people, so it’s suitable for retail environments catering to that age group.
yellow fun, joy, energy, youthfulness, intelligence
  • Yellow is the brightest color to the eye, so it draws attention to the most important details.
  • Although yellow makes a good background for dark colors, it’s hard to read yellow with white due to low contrast. It’s best to avoid putting these two colors together without another color.
  • Yellow letters on a white background or vice versa can work if a black outline is added around the text.
blue truth, trust, wisdom, loyalty, confidence, intelligence, creativity
  • Blue is popular with men, so it’s a good choice in retail environments catering to them.
  • Blue suppresses appetite, so it should be avoided in signs relating to food.
green the environment, nature, health, wealth
  • Green is suitable for signs in health food and other health-related stores due to its association with nature.
  • As a relaxing color, green is also suitable for retail environments that feature products for relaxation.
purple prestige, power, nobility, luxury
  • Purple works well as a background for light text such as yellow or white.
  • It also works well as text on a white background.
grey practicality, timelessness, sturdiness
  • A dark grey can be used in similar way to black.
  • As a lighter color, pale grey does not function the same way.


Combining Colors

Combing colors based on psychology is not a precise science. Retailers should consider the subtle messages they want to send with the colors they choose to combine. Several approaches can be taken to combining colors in retail signage.

The first approach is called the monochromatic scheme. It incorporates multiple shades of the same base color, such as navy blue with sky blue. This can be a clean look that many customers will find appealing and even soothing, especially in shades of blue or green.


Another approach that pleases the eye is called the complementary scheme. This approach to retail signage combines a warm color, such as shades of red, yellow or orange, with a cool color such as shades of blue, green or purple. A combination using this scheme might be blue with orange.  In either of these schemes, or any other combination, white, black and grey serve as neutral colors that can be added without affecting the balance of the scheme.

A final note about combining colors in retail signage is that these suggestions are not set in stone. Retailers can experiment with other combinations they like and see if those are appealing and easy to read.


The Colors of Persuasion

As a visual medium, retail signage relies on color, text and imagery to get its point across. A major function of store signs is to subtly persuade customers to make purchases when they are in the store. Retailers can take maximum advantage of their signs as persuasive tools by applying the psychology of colors to their signage choices.




Now that you have the tools for great looking signs don’t overlook, the importance of how those signs are placed in your store.  Using a self leveling retractable signage system will ensure that your signs are hung at the right height and are never crooked or off centered.  Retractable retail signage systems are the safest method of hanging interior signage since it involves no ladders or heavy lifting.


About the Author :

Reel EZ display has the retail signage system you need to increase workplace safety. Our easy-to-use retractable signage system will have your place of business looking great with evenly hung signs that one employee can safely and efficiently manage. Contact us today to learn how you can benefit from our safety signage systems.



  1. It sure is nice to know that color psychology is not only used when it comes to branding and advertising products or service, but it can also be used to influence a person’s thoughts and emotions, as different colors invoke specific responses in people. My wife wants to set up a business and she wants her brand to evoke joy whenever people hear of it. I’ll suggest to her that he should get touch with people who know about color psychology so that she can introduce a brand that is not only enticing but also evokes emotions.

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