From workbooks to handouts to maps, assignments and more, schools print a lot of materials, and you’re always on the lookout for simple, cost-effective ways to boost their effectiveness. Here’s one you may not have thought of: adding a dash of color. Black text on a white page may be an efficient way to communicate basic information, but teachers, students and administrators want to do more than inform; they want to inspire and engage students.
Color can be a cost-effective way to form connections that tap into emotions. In fact, research has found that color is the most powerful stimulus to our brain and can aid in learning.1 When something attracts a student’s attention, it goes into his or her working memory–and color is what the brain notices first.
Here are nine color choices that can bring new life to your printed materials.
If optimism was a country, the national flag would be yellow. Studies have shown that yellow actually triggers the release of serotonin, one of the chemical’s responsible for happiness and contentment. Maybe that’s why smiley faces are always bright yellow!
Tip: Yellow is a potent color, so use it as an accent. Too much yellow can be overpowering. Think of it as a highlighter and use it to draw attention to important information on classroom posters or handouts.
Orange symbolizes strength, playfulness, ambition, and youthfulness. Orange has the much of the same feeling of cheerful exuberance as yellow. If your institution is for young children, this may be the color for you!
Tip: Consider using orange for the “call-to-action.” For example, if teachers need students or parents to sign up or take a next step, using orange in the text or border can encourage them to take action.
If you want to command attention, red is the color for you! Red is the color of alarms and flames. It’s energizing and can create a sense of urgency.
Tip: The attention-getting nature of red stimulates people to take action — and that’s a good thing when you need to get students to act! For example, use red to call attention to registration deadlines or upcoming events.
Combine blue and red and you get purple: the color of kings. Purple can make your students feel cool and calm. It also sparks the imagination. Consider using purple to promote your creative classes or programs.
Tip: Purple also signifies credibility. It’s an excellent color to use in a flyer with a student or family testimonial.
Blue creates a calm, contemplative atmosphere. It’s the color of a pristine lake, or a cloudless sky. It’s also most people’s favorite color, evoking a sense of trust. While it doesn’t always stand out, blue is a good go-to choice for adding color to basic printed materials.
Tip: Blue appeals to a wide audience, imparting a sense of balance and harmony to any printed material. Use it when sharing information about your school mission and values.
As the most dominate color in nature, green represents fertility and abundance. It’s associated with growth involving that other kind of green — money. And it’s one of the easiest colors for the human brain to recognize.
Tip: If your goal is to communicate growth, green is the color you’ll want to use. This can be a good choice in your fundraising materials or development project updates.
Brown is a conservative color, representing humility and quiet confidence. The right shade of brown is reminiscent of fine wood and leather.
Tip: As a neutral shade, brown is useful in balancing out stronger colors. Use it to communicate a feeling of authenticity, telling the history of your institution.
As the ultimate neutral color, gray selflessly intensifies any color next to it, helping adjacent colors to “pop.” Gray communicates strength, sturdiness and longevity.
Tip: Gray is a great alternative to black or white. Use dark gray text to communicate instructions and details on otherwise colorful handouts, creating separation between direction and workspace.
Every detail helps when it comes to printed materials. Colors effect mood and can help engage students and their families, getting them excited about your school and about learning. Carefully plan your schemes when designing your next classroom poster, event flyer, or handout. Using your hues as a force multiplier can help to increase the success of your important visual communication tools.
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