Why Event Lighting Color Schemes Matter More Than You Think

Posted by Jon Young on Oct 11, 2018, 1:56:19 PM

Event Lighting Retailers and office building owners spend thousands of dollars to get their interior lighting just right because color and intensity matter even when you don’t overtly notice the light. But what if you want visible color? The right color scheme can transform your event whereas the wrong event lighting colors can send the wrong message.

Here’s what you need to know when it comes to event lighting color schemes.

Color and Branding are a Big Part of Your Event

After all, you're not only trying to show people a good time, you're trying to promote your business. It may seem obvious, then, to select your brand's color scheme to light your event. But have you thought about colors that would complement yours? Don't limit yourself to your company colors. Throwing in a different hue or contrasting color can really make an event stand out.

Color Makes a Powerful Statement

The most successful events immerse attendees in a multi-sensory experience, and color can contribute mightily to that. Colors stir emotions in all of us, affecting our mood and our behavior. So you want to choose carefully to create an atmosphere that fits your venue, type of event, and audience. How do you want people to feel as they enter your event and spend time there? Elegantly sophisticated? Energized to participate? Passionate about your cause or products? Calm and relaxed to take in information?

In general, colors evoke these emotions:

  • White – light, spacious, calm, purity
  • Black – sophistication, power, boldness, elegance, mystery
  • Red – power, intensity, excitement, passion
  • Orange – intensity, energy, excitement, playfulness
  • Yellow – warmth, cheerfulness
  • Blue – calm, soothing, loyalty, trust
  • Green – calm, tranquility
  • Purple – wisdom, wealth, royalty

Pro Tip: Take a look at this helpful chart.

Color reinforces your branding

It makes perfect sense to use your branded colors to light and decorate your event. You might want a wall wash in one of your colors. Or you can use a gobo to project your logo in color, either decoratively or as a key background element. But you might want to use contrasting or complementary colors as well, to create a more complex, interesting palette.

Choose Your Color Scheme Wisely

Pigmented color (such as in printed graphics and paint) and Lighting color work in completely different ways when we start talking about mixing colors. It can get quite technical, and we’ll save that for another blog. For the sake of simplicity, let’s limit our scope to pigmented color (remember your kindergarten watercolor paints?) knowing that many of the same color theories apply to lighting as well. You may want to reference the chart on this web page as you read the following descriptions.

Colors can be bold or nuanced:

  • There are three primary colors on the color wheel – red, yellow, and blue.
  • There are three secondary colors – orange, green, and purple – which combine two primary colors, such as red + yellow = orange.
  • There are tertiary colors between each of these, and so on.

Any of these colors can be made lighter or darker with the addition of white or black. We know you won’t be mixing paint for your event, but it helps to understand how all these shades relate to one another. The way you combine colors will dramatically affect the overall look and feel of your event lighting:

  • Analogous colors sit next to one another on the color wheel, so there is minimal contrast. This creates a soft look.
  • A monochromatic color scheme uses a single color in a range of shades and tints. This creates a clean look.
  • A triadic color scheme uses three colors equally spaced around the wheel. You get strong contrasts but in a single tone. This creates a vibrant look.
  • Complementary colors sit opposite one another on the wheel, so they are as different as possible. This look works best if you emphasize one color over the other.
  • A split complementary color scheme uses one key color and two adjacent complementary colors rather than just one. This look is high-contrast but with greater depth and complexity.

Knowing what colors trigger certain emotions and the effect you can create with different combinations, you can work with your AV team to produce the ideal visual (and visceral) event lighting experience.

webinar recording

Topics: Event Production, Event Technology