Airport Signage

Color Contrast for Signs


A few things to think about while choosing colors for signs.

Signage is still very much a necessary marketing tool, and when choosing colors for signs there are some important factors to consider to make them successful; one of the most critical is color contrast.

The higher the contrast, the more visible & eye-catching colors will be together. Having high contrast for text, logos, & directional symbols on signs is critical for readability at a distance. 

Different color combinations have varying levels of contrast. The best combinations include a color of darker value, and one of lighter value. Value refers to the relative lightness or darkness of a color. It is the contrast in values that creates visual difference.

High Contrast Airport Signage in Black & Yellow


White & black have the highest contrast, having the lightest & darkest values respectively. White on black, or the reverse, are great standard options for signage. Black & yellow together is another popular high contrast pair.

Opposite color pairs (diagonal on the color wheel) typically have high contrast if their values are different. Purple & yellow are a good example of this. Purple is naturally a dark value, & yellow is a light value, so these opposite colors have high contrast & high visibility. Harmonious colors similar in value, like green & blue, have low contrast & low visibility.

Opposite colors with similar values can create a visual vibration effect. This is difficult to read & uncomfortable to look at. Red & green together are an example of a vibrating color combination to stay away from.

It is possible to choose colors that are close together on the color wheel (harmonious colors) & create contrast with different values. Experiment with the values of colors to see what gives you the most contrast. As a result, you can create a harmonious color pair with high contrast.

For example, take a look at these samples – the green text is the same color on all squares, but the value of the blue background changes from dark to light. Because of this, the text becomes less readable the lighter the background gets.

Color contrast is a critical factor to think about to ensure your signs are both appealing and easy to read! 

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