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The Best Color Combinations for Your Stationery Design

I'm the owner and founder of PIT Designs. I love creating digital presence and creative digital solutions for our clients.

Posted 11 months ago on April 24th, 2022.

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There is no doubt that color affects our emotions and behaviors, and so do color combinations. Colors play a decisive role in the success of any product, and it is no different for stationery design, either.

Color is an element that can be too easy to get wrong, but isn’t wholly difficult to get right. That being said, the benefits one can reap of the right color combination for their stationery design are a topic of their own.

Right now, however, we will focus solely on the best color combinations you can have for your stationery design, as well as dive into some technical aspects as to what makes them tick.

Simple Color Terms to Understand for Stationery Design

Before we provide a brief explanation of color psychology and which emotional response different colors and color combinations can bring, we will provide some technical terms often used in stationery design as well as other design and artistic aspects.

Color is used to describe every encompassing terminology under the color combination or color spectrum charts, from hue and tins, to shades and tones.

Hue – What is It?

All in all, hue is the dominant color in any color family wheel. For example, there are the three primary colors of red, green, and blue, on the RGB spectrum and everything else falls into some combination of that hue. However, in the design space, and especially stationery design, one can say that red, green, and yellow are the three primary colors instead.

For reference, red is a hue, and the color pink is a tint. If you feel confused, not to worry. These things will get clearer as we continue to explain how color combinations work in stationery design!

Tint – Add some Brightness To It

A tint is when the color white is added to a hue. Following the example above, if we add white to the color red, then we get pink. Therefore, pink is a tint, with the color red being the hue.

Shade – You Want it Darker?

By contrast, a shade is when the color black is added to a hue, which darkens the resulting color as well. In the simplest of examples, blue is the hue, and dark or navy blue is the shade, whereas light blue and teal is the tint (which has some green in it too). 

Tone – Let the Colors Speak

A tone is the middle ground between the shade and the tint, because it is produced by added grey with a hue. 

Secondary Colors – The Real Color Combination

Secondary colors are just the color combination of two primary colors. For example, yellow and blue give green, while red and blue give purple.

Tertiary Colors – Another Alternative?

Tertiary colors are color combinations of both primary and secondary (equal amounts) colors. A combination of yellow and green, for example, forms a tertiary color.

Warm Colors – A Bright Light

Warm colors as those colors or color combinations that are bright and represent the sun, or fire. Example of these are red, yellow, orange, green, etc.

Cool Colors – Winter Simulation

Cool colors are those that are similar to water, grass, or a general darker atmosphere. Blue, darkish green, and purple are chief among them.

A Look at Colors and Color Combinations

Okay. We are done with the terminologies. Now it is time to go with the actual colors themselves, and see which emotional impact they have on our stationery design.

  • Red: Red is typically associated with strong emotions, love, passion, and hunger. It can also be associated with danger or anger.
  • Orange: Orange is all about energy and refreshment. It also communicates excitement.
  • Yellow: Yellow is very similar to orange, and represents cheerfulness and warmth. It can also be about frustrations and unease.
  • Blue: Blue is calm, serene, and tranquil. It is also associated with trust and stability. Blue also represents sadness.
  • Green: Green is about abundance, money, fertility, health, and calmness.
  • Purple: Purple is regal and luxurious, associated with quality and royalty.
  • Black: Black is not actually a color, but it can represent sophistication, substance, menace, death, and more.
  • Brown: Brown is associated with the earth, nature, and reliability.
  • White: White is purity, simplicity, innocence, while also associated with sterility or blandness.
  • Pink: Pink is associated with kindness, softness, compassion, and more maternal love than the color red, which is more passionate.
  • Grey: Grey is about emotionlessness, moodiness, while also representing conservativeness and formality.

Color Combinations for Your Stationery Design

As you may have known by now, that selecting the best color combinations for your stationery design is not just about which color looks the best.

Instead, there is a science behind it all, taking into considering aspects such as the brand message, the color’s emotional tone, the color combination and what message it puts forward, etc.

Red will look better for a wedding invitation card than for a funeral. Meanwhile, brown and bright green do not exactly scream ‘luxury’ when you want to invite some guests to a high-class ball or party.

So, here we will dive into some technical aspects of color combinations, and which ones work best for your stationery design.

Monochromatic Color Combinations in Stationery Design

Monochromatic color combinations use only one hue, but multiple shades, tints, and tones, allowing them the flexibility to truly experiment with the color combinations.

The freedom this approach provides to stationery design leaves it as one of the most popular ways of doing so.

These can add some unique flair to your stationery design, because it does not only use colors on the color spectrum, but mixes and combinations of those colors in earnest.

For example, in a monochromatic stationery design aesthetic, you won’t see red or black as much as you’ll see maroon and pink and magenta.

Analogous Color Combinations in Stationery Design

An analogous color combination is one that uses colors next to it on the color wheel for its stationery design. An example of analogous colors is yellow and green, red and orange, blue and purple, etc.

These color combinations can create designs that are pleasing to the eye, and most formal companies use these in their stationery designs as well as internal documents to create a friendly and energetic overall aesthetic in their output.

These can work really great for stationery designs where the vision is already set. For example, a yellow, yellow-green, and green color combinations is an analogous color scheme. So, using that color with stationery that evokes emotions of excitement and calmness in abundance can be beneficial.

Complementary Color Combinations in Stationery Design

Complementary color combinations are those that are opposite on the color wheel.

Designs often uses these opposites to contrast their stationery design, thus providing both vibrancy and more ‘pop’ in their overall aesthetic.

The FedEx logo is one that use such complementary colors of orange and purple together. Meanwhile, the Firefox logo’s blue and orange is quite recognizable as well, which are also complementary colors.

Complementary colors create contrast, and contrast brings attention in one of the best ways. Direct your audience in where you want them to look in your stationery design by using these complementary color combinations.

Tetradic Color Combinations in Stationery Design

The tetradic color combinations give no clear dominance to one color. It is also a twin complementary color combination, as it uses two pairs of complementing colors.

One of the most well-known examples of the tetradic color combination is the Microsoft Logo, which uses red, green, blue, and yellow.

In a tetradic color combination, the distance between all four colors has to be evenly divided.

Triadic Color Combinations in Stationery Design

A triadic color combination has three different colors that are equally spaced in the color wheel spectrum.

As an example, the three primary colors of red, blue, and yellow are triadic color combinations. These can be identified by placing a triangle of equal sides at a primary color of choice, which will result in the triangle landing on the other two points of the color wheel.

This ends up creating vibrant color combinations for stationery designs, and can be quite beneficial for bold designs. Triadic colors are known to be a designer favorite.


As we dive into the more technical aspects of color combinations of stationery design, we can surely see that there is a lot to learn, and that the topic goes far deeper than simply stating that red and white are good color combinations.

The reality is that stationery design also requires situational, and sometimes, purely aesthetic color combinations and decisions. Sometimes, black over white just looks better than any other color, regardless of the emotional tones attached to it. But still, why not take that bonus, eh?