A Look at Color Contrast in Sign Design

For both exterior and interior signs, color contrast is a key component of effective design. Without careful attention to color contrast, a sign can become unreadable and ineffective. Often, your sign company will help you with the design process so that you can avoid the complications of poor color contrast. As you consider your design, here are some things to keep in mind about using contrast to make your sign more readable and impactful.

Basics of Color Contrast

Contrast refers to how different colors are from each other. Low contrast colors are the most similar to each other, while high contrast colors are very different. Contrast between colors doesn’t only depend on the actual hues but also the tint, shade, and saturation of the colors. Generally, mixing high contrast colors works best for readability—this is why websites and printed pages often use white backgrounds with black text—but in some cases, very high contrast design can also look messy. There is actually a scientific formula that designers can use to calculate the contrast between colors. Working with the experienced designers from your sign company will help you make the right choices.

Choosing Background and Foreground Colors

When you choose contrasting colors for your signs, it’s important to consider which one should be a foreground color and which should form the background. Generally, the eye sees cool colors, such as blue and green, as far away, and warm colors, like red and yellow, look closer. For this reason, cooler colors make better backgrounds, and warm colors should be in the forefront. For instance, a blue background and yellow text is easier to read than the reverse.

Incorporating Color Moods

In addition to providing sufficient contrast, the colors on your sign should also convey the appropriate brand messaging. Consider the moods of the colors you’re using in your design. For example, blues and greens suggest calm and relaxation, which could work well for a spa business, while fiery red is energetic and may work well for a gym.


Our experienced designers at Olympic Signs will help you craft indoor and outdoor signs near Chicago that offer maximum exposure for your business. Take the guesswork out of signage and let us assist with design, installation, and maintenance. Get the process started today by calling (630) 424-6100.

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